Ainoshima: Fukuoka’s Cat Island (Looking Back)
Last year (2015), it was a cold January weekend and we had a habit of going out and having an adventure every weekend, and so I went on several blogs of the top things to do in Fukuoka and I finally found something that was viable: Ainoshima (相島）, Fukuoka’s cat island and it was close enough to where Nami lived, so we decided to take a train out and visit for a day. To get there take the train to Fukkoudaimae station (福工大前)on the JR Kagoshima Main line. From there you can either take a bus or a long walk to the port where there are only 6 ferries a day to Ainoshima (so you’ll have to look at the schedule ahead of time. Prior to departure we stopped by a Family Mart and got some かにかま (fake crab meat) to feed the cats, this was completely successful, as the cats loved it and you can tear off as big or as small pieces as you like. As soon as we got off of the ferry there were a few cats already waiting for visitors.
The cats for the most part seemed to have different territories on the island, areas where they seemed comfortable. I easily saw several hundred cats that day, but no more than 15 at a time, they’d follow you a little bit for food, but give up if they they felt they entered another cat’s territory. About half of the cats seemed shy of people, but there were plenty that would go up to people, mostly for food, but a few stuck around for attention as well. Some of the cats seemed a little sick or injured with wounds or missing eye and I tried to stay clear from those. When we say down for lunch by the boats, there were no cats nearby, but after only a few minutes we were already surrounded by 10 or so cats hoping to catch a bite of their own.
The island apart from being known for cats, is also popular among bird enthusiasts or so I’ve read. I didn’t see to many smaller birds, but I did see a huge population of black kites (sea hawks) flying all over the island, it is pretty hard not to spot one of them on the island. I guess it is not unheard of for one to swoop down and take some food. Going Southeast, the island also has a more nature-y side that doesn’t get enough coverage, I was so surprised to find such a beautiful stone beach away from all the cats, it was a shame that there was so much garbage washed up on it, but that’s the case with most beaches nowadays unfortunately.
Along the Northern coast of the stone beach area, there are a lot of several hundred year old stone tombs, which made for an interesting and surprising visit, it has been completely unlike anything else I’ve seen in Japan. Another interesting thing that I saw was the rock called megane-iwa (眼鏡岩/literally: glasses rock) which is a large sea arch made of stone just a little away from the island, you can see it when they ferry comes towards Ainoshima. After seeing the stone tombs, we walked back to the city area and hung out with the largest amount of cats we had seen all day while waiting for our ferry to come in to go back to Shingu port.
Length of trip: 1 day (Sun, Jan. 18, 2015).
New cities visited: Shingu, Ainoshima (technically part of Shingu).