By Crystal Chung @crystalkchung

WITH no shops, cars, restaurants or kiosks selling snacks, Aoshima is not the ideal hotspot for tourists - but cat lovers are not complaining

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Cats crowd the harbor on Aoshima Island in Ehime, southern Japan

Aoshima Island is one of about a dozen "cat islands" around Japan ­ small places where there are significantly more feline residents than people. In fact, cats outnumber humans six to one on the island.

Kei said: “It’s mostly home to pensioners who didn’t seek work elsewhere after World War II"

The incredible pictures taken by photographer Kei Nomiyama show hundreds of cats prowling the island, curled up in abandoned houses or strutting about in the quiet fishing village.

Several cats were originally introduced to the mile-long island to deal with mice that plagued fishermen's boats

Recently becoming popular online, tiny Aoshima has seen a steep rise in tourist visits, overwhelming the handful of permanent residents.

Kei said: “Aoshima, a 30­minute ferry ride off the coast of Ehime was once home to 900 people in 1945 now only around 15 people live on the island.

The cat population is nurtured by the humans who feed them for good luck and prosperity

“It’s mostly home to pensioners who didn’t seek work elsewhere after World War II. The only sign of human activity now is the boatload of two times of day­trippers from the mainland, visiting what is locally known as Cat Island”

Nomiyama said: “The massive increase of cats has become a big burden in recent years to the small island"

Several cats were originally introduced to the mile­long island to deal with mice that plagued fishermen's boats, however they stayed on and multiplied.

The cats run around the island in different groups and often 'cat wars' can be witnessed

Nomiyama said: “The massive increase of cats has become a big burden in recent years to the small island. Locals are trying to keep the feline population in check and at least 10 cats have been neutered.

The cats can immediately be seen lying and frolicking about when visitors disembark at the port

“The residents haven't taken too kindly to the tourists either as they don't mind them coming, but want to be left in peace.”

Kei said: "Locals are trying to keep the feline population in check and at least 10 cats have been neutered.”

The cats of Aoshima survive on any food they are given by tourists and local residents such as rice balls and leftover scraps of food.

Apparently no canines live on the island, and bringing them is frowned upon

Kei said: “There are many feeding grounds for visitors on cat island and a great deal of cats gather there. With more than a hundred cats coming towards you for food this can definitely become overwhelming!”