Hidden away on the many islands near Hiroshima and Shikoku in Japan is an island where rabbits roam free and have no fear of humans. Okunoshima is the name of the island, but every one else just calls it “Rabbit Island”. Located in the Inland Sea of Japan in the city of Takehara in Hiroshima Prefecture, it is accessible by a ferry near Tadanoumi Train Station. But as cute as the name “Rabbit Island” implies, it holds a dark secret from times long ago.
I finally got the opportunity to check out the island for myself last summer. (Totally sorry for not posting this earlier!) The quickest way to get to the island is take the Sanyo Shinkansen to Mihara Station, then take the Kure Line to Tadanoumi, where you can walk to the ferry and take a boat to the island. Once on the island, you are greeted by dozens upon dozens of rabbits as they charge full speed at you, looking for something to eat. They are very friendly and will walk up to you and even allow you to pet them as long as you have something for them to eat.
The island also has a hotel where you can stay at as well as bike rentals and many other activities. You can easily traverse the perimeter of the island in a few hours and there are many hiking trails scattered about the island. As I went in the summer, it was blisteringly hot and flies were just about everywhere. The rabbits didn’t seem to mind though as everywhere you looked, they were hopping about. I prepped a few snacks for the rabbits to eat and sat down on a patch of grass and was pleasantly surprised at how many rabbits began to surround me to get a chance at a snack.
As I turned the corner though, I was greeted to this large run down building. It turns out that during World War II, the island was used as a Poison Gas factory. Hidden in the foliage of the island, they were able to produce over six kilotons of Mustard Gas and Tear Gas. Luckily, after the war, the factories and stores of gas were dismantled, burned, or buried. What remains are ghosts and hollow shells of all of the facilities. In 1988, the Poison Gas museum was opened on the island to help raise awareness about the truths of poison gas.
After World War II, the island was redeveloped as a park and rabbits were intentionally set loose. Now, there are thousands of rabbits that enjoy a life of peace. That being said, something to note is that cats and dogs are not allowed on the island. So if you have a pet, make sure to make arrangements before visiting the island.
For some video of the island, check out my Youtube page here:
Things to note:
- The Rabbits can and will bite if provoked
- Bring food for the rabbits BEFORE coming to the island
- Cats and Dogs are NOT allowed
- The last train from the island to the mainland is at 7:00PM
- The Kure line has about 1 train every hour. PLAN your route ahead of time
- Bring bug spray during the summer
Aside from that, it’s definitely worth checking out and the views from and on the island are great! Check out the gallery below for more pictures! Thanks for reading!