Rabbits, rabbits everywhere!
Okunoshima is a small island located in the Seto Inland Sea within Hiroshima prefecture. This place is a little off the beaten path but thanks to the Internet and social media, Okunoshima is slowly making a name for itself. Chances are you’ve seen some video or article about it on Facebook. If not, welcome to Japan’s very own rabbit island.
Yep, an island populated by rabbits. Just the sound of it had me going “D‘aww…“. The rabbits are wild – they don’t like to be handled or petted but they will approach humans and tolerate some amount of petting for food.
Now let’s get to the twist of the story. Despite the cute and cuddly front, Okunoshima has a dark history. This island was used to manufacture and store chemical weapons during the war. In fact, one theory suggests that the rabbits were originally used for testing chemical weapons and were released after the war was over. Another theory is that the rabbits were released on the island by schoolchildren on a field trip.
The ruins of war time buildings can still be found on Okunoshima. This building was the power plant that used to supply the island’s energy demands. Today, only the outer shell of the building remains. It has been left in a state of disrepair so naturally people are not allowed inside for safety reasons.
Elsewhere on the island, there is also a hotel (where you can buy rabbit food) and a museum on poison gas weapons. Unfortunately, the museum was closed when I visited – it was the end of the year holidays. Oh well, more time for the rabbits.
Finally, there is an observation platform with some great views of the Seto Inland Sea. Getting to the platform requires one to negotiate a rather steep uphill climb though. But you can always take breaks along the way to feed some rabbits. Yes, rabbits are everywhere on this island.
I had a pleasant day at Okunoshima. It was the perfect combination of two things that I like – history and kawaii (that rhymes!). I highly recommend making a day trip to the island if you are in Hiroshima. This would be a great place to bring the kids I reckon.
Getting to the island is a little tricky as you need to time your trains correctly followed by a short ferry ride. I was stuck at the station for 1 hour waiting for the next train. D’oh! For directions to Okunoshima, I referred to this article from ZoomingJapan.com.