The world has heard a lot in regards to the getting old and shrinking of Japanese society, a course of that has created ghost cities like these we’ve beforehand featured right here on Open Tradition. However nevertheless critically Japan’s inhabitants could also be contracting, its love of cats abides undiminished. Therefore the substitute of individuals by felines — successfully, anyway — on the island of Aoshima, visited in the CBS Sunday Morning section above. “Right here, cats outnumber people greater than ten to at least one,” says correspondent Seth Doane. Its “tiny fishing village as soon as had a inhabitants of 800 folks, however the sardine fisheries depleted, jobs moved to cities, and human residents left the island.”
Such is the way in which, it appears, of any post-industrial society — however as all the time, Japan has methods of setting itself aside. On Aoshima, Doane says, “the large second of the day is when the vacationer boat exhibits up. It’s 45 minutes of bliss for all concerned,” together with the cat-lovers bearing treats in addition to all of the peckish animals awaiting them on the dock. However Aoshima is just one of ten such “cat islands” round Japan. The a lot bigger (however nonetheless small) Tashirojima boasts not simply over 100 resident cats, but additionally Neko-jinja (猫神社), actually “Cat Shrine,” considered one of a bunch of such feline-dedicated spiritual websites within the island’s Miyagi Prefecture.
Whether or not Japan’s angle towards cats quantities to worship stays a matter of debate. However the reality stays that cats have confirmed to be the salvation of extra locations in Japan than just a few of its islands: take Tama (actually “ball,” however the Japanese equal of “Kitty”), a calico whose assumption of the place of “station grasp” introduced a prepare cease in Wakayama Prefecture again from the brink of closure. Within the previous days, Japanese cats did the soiled work of killing rodents that will in any other case infest fishing boats and destroy silkworm farms; at the moment, their ancestors drum up tourism. The Japanese might love cats with an enthusiasm unknown in the remainder of the world, however clearly they nonetheless anticipate them to earn their maintain.
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Based mostly in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and tradition. His tasks embody the Substack e-newsletter Books on Cities, the guide The Stateless Metropolis: a Stroll by way of Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video sequence The Metropolis in Cinema. Observe him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Fb.