Rabbit Island (Okunoshima)

An island of cute animals with a dark history

Located off the coast of Hiroshima, Okunoshima is famous for its large population of rabbits. Many visitors come to the island to see these cute critters, but what they may not realize is that Okunoshima has a dark and tragic history. Despite its dark past, the island has become a popular tourist spot, attracting both animal lovers and history buffs alike.

Okunoshima is accessible by ferry from Tadanoumi, a small town on the mainland. From Tadanoumi, visitors can take a ferry to the island and explore its many attractions. One of the main attractions on the island is the large population of rabbits. There is no way of knowing exactly how many rabbits currently live on the island, but with no natural predators and cats and dogs barred from entry, their numbers continue to grow. Some believe that the rabbits are descended from a small batch of eight rabbits released by school children in 1971, while others say they are test subjects released after World War II. Regardless of their origin, the rabbits have become the island’s biggest draw and are well-cared for by the locals.

Guests to the island are encouraged to buy food and feed the rabbits, who are so used to human contact that they are almost domesticated. However, visitors should be prepared to run when they run out of food, as the rabbits are prone to chase. The rabbits add a healthy serving of cuteness to almost anything you can do on the island, whether it’s enjoying the beautiful beaches or camping in one of the campgrounds.

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But Okunoshima is not just about cute rabbits and beautiful beaches. The island also has a tragic past that it does not shy away from. During World War II, a secret chemical weapons factory was built on Okunoshima. Despite japan being a signatory to the 1925 Geneva Protocol prohibiting chemical warfare, the government went to great lengths to keep the factory a secret. They even removed the island from some maps and kept the locals in the dark about what was being produced.

Mustard gas and tear gas were manufactured at the factory, and the island became the perfect location for these secret activities. Isolated yet still relatively accessible, Okunoshima provided the ideal setting for the production of chemical weapons. As the war ended, the factory was dismantled, and the stockpiled chemicals were disposed of by the Allied forces. It was only years later that the government admitted to their wrongdoing and offered support to those in the area whose health had been damaged by the factory.

To commemorate the island’s dark history, a museum was opened on Okunoshima in 1988. The museum presents the island’s secret past of poison gas manufacturing in unflinching detail. Ruined military outposts can be found scattered around the island, serving as a reminder of the island’s tragic past. Despite its disturbing history, Okunoshima is still worth a visit, even for those who are not animal lovers but rather history enthusiasts.

In addition to the rabbits and the museum, Okunoshima has other attractions to offer. The island has many beautiful beaches where visitors can relax and enjoy the scenic views. There are also campgrounds for those who want to spend the night on the island. No matter where you go on Okunoshima, the rabbits are a constant presence, adding a touch of cuteness to every activity.

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To get to Okunoshima, visitors can take a ferry from Tadanoumi on the JR Kure Line. Another ferry to the island leaves from Omishima. The island is relatively easy to reach, making it a popular day trip destination for both locals and tourists.

In conclusion, Okunoshima is an island with a dark history but is also home to a large population of cute rabbits. Despite its tragic past, the island has become a popular tourist spot, attracting visitors who are interested in both its history and its adorable furry residents. Whether you’re an animal lover or a history buff, Okunoshima offers a unique and fascinating experience that is well worth a visit. So if you find yourself in Hiroshima, don’t miss the opportunity to explore this island of cute animals with a dark history.

Address And Maps Location:

Takehara-shi, Hiroshima-ken

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