Okunoshima is a small Japanese island, located in the Inland Sea of Japan, in the Hiroshima Prefecture. What’s special about this place is that it is crawling with rabbits, a true bunny paradise. Nicknamed the Rabbit Okunoshima attracts thousands of animal lovers every year. Feeding bunnies can be one of the most relaxing pastimes, and people come here to do just that. The island is a popular day-trip and weekend holiday destination.
In the early 20th Century, Okunoshima, served as the base for the Imperial Army’s lethal gas operation. Over 6,000 tons of about 5 types of poison gas were manufactured on this very island between the years of 1929 and 1945. The mission was top secret back then, so Okunoshima was actually omitted from maps and workers were sworn to secrecy. Today, you can still see the ruins of these factories on the island. Given its history, there are several explanations of the unusually large number of rabbits in this place. Some sources say they were brought over during World War II, and when the war ended, the workers are said to have released the rabbits into the wild. Other sources claim that a group of children were on a field trip at Okunoshima in 1971, when they left behind eight bunnies. Though we may never know how the first rabbits got on to the island, they made sure to leave behind hundreds of their progeny to roam the island today. Hundreds might not sound like a lot, but on an island just 2.5 kilometers in circumference, they definitely make their presence felt.
The rabbits of Okunoshima are wild, but well-accustomed to the presence of humans. Sometimes they approach tourists, especially during seasons when natural food sources are low, hopping on to laps much to the delight of visitors. Carrots, cabbage and rabbit feed (sold at the island hotel for about $1 a cup) are what they prefer the most. Rakuten, a travel company, offers a tour called ‘Let’s Play with Rabbits’, in English and Japanese, because an island full of bunnies is pretty hard to resist. Hunting the rabbits is strictly forbidden, and so is bringing cats and dogs on the island. If you fancy felines, you can visit Japan’s cat island, instead. Okunoshima is all bunnies, all the time.
Photo: Laura Appleyard
Even though tourists flock to Okunoshima to see the rabbits today, the island’s also home to the Poison Gas Museum. The island has been declared safe for tourists now, but are generally advised to stay on official walkways and paths. Generally, if you’re hanging out where the bunnies are, you’re cool. B-)
Photo: Laura Appleyard
Happy Bunday ^-^