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Exploring Ogijima, The Cat Island

  • Cats are synonymous with good luck in Japan and can be found everywhere, in both statue and living form. Ogijima Island, located in Kagawa’s Takamatsu, is one of the many cat islands dotted throughout the country. Cat islands have been increasing in number in Japan, due to the aging population of craftsmen. Cats populate small fishing villages until there are more cats than people. The population of Ogijima is only about 200 people, and most of them have been living on the island for most of their lives. The charming island is easily accessed from Takamatsu and can be explored in just a few hours perfect for a day trip.

    Exploring Ogijima, The Cat Island

    Exploring Ogijima, The Cat Island

    The best way to meet the cats is simply to wander around the two kilometer long island. Cats can be found everywhere, hiding in alleys, sleeping in bushes, or just sunbathing out in the open. The cats are all stray but are taken care of by the locals, so they are well fed and have healthy fur. The felines might look gentle and clean but be sure to take caution when petting them. Be careful with any food inside bags and don’t offer any to the cats. Ogijima is their home and it’s important to respect that. Some island creatures are friendlier than others and are overjoyed to befriend visitors.

    Exploring Ogijima, The Cat Island

    Exploring Ogijima, The Cat Island

    Ogijima is also known for its artwork. It was featured in the Setouchi Art Triennale, which brings together the islands of the Seto Inland Sea through modern art. Installations from the previous triennales are still on display and some public pieces can be seen when the exhibitions are closed. “Wallalley” are vibrant paintings in random alleys that bring abandoned buildings to life. Another famous piece is the port itself, known as “Ogijima’s Soul”. This clear port welcomes visitors and truly expresses the soul of the island, combining artwork with small island life.

    Exploring Ogijima, The Cat Island

    Exploring Ogijima, The Cat Island

    The small island is hilly and green, with vast views of the Seto sea. Rental bicycles are available, but walking is recommended for really taking in the island life. The island can easily be walked around in a few hours while enjoying the sights and petting some cats. The streets are narrow, but the island is so small visitors cannot get lost for long. If riding a bicycle, be sure to watch out for the cats! They frequently hide in corners and dart across streets, which makes them easy to collide with.

    Exploring Ogijima, The Cat Island

    Exploring Ogijima, The Cat Island

    Exploring Ogijima, The Cat Island

    Exploring Ogijima, The Cat Island

    After exploring the art and making new feline friends, take a break at Jouko Cafe. Nestled up in the mountains, the cafe is rustic, with all the furniture made of wood. The outdoor patio is the ideal place to relax and breathe the fresh mountain air. The owner specializes in organic farming on the island and creates dishes based off seasonal island produce . The fresh juices are highly recommended, made from local yuzu and itadori, a knotweed commonly found on mountain ranges in Japan and foraged in Ogijima. Take some time to relax in the cafe and appreciate the pastoral silence before returning to Takamatsu.

    Exploring Ogijima, The Cat Island

    Exploring Ogijima, The Cat Island

    Ogijima is accessed through Takamatsu port via a ferry that runs every two hours. The 40-minute crossing costs 510 yen. The ferry can also be boarded at Megijima island.

    Ogijima
    Address
    Kagawa Pref. Takamatsushi Ogichou
    Phone
    0878730002
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