Do you love little fluffy cute creatures known as rabbits? Do you like the idea of their roaming around here and there, eating food and having friendly behavior? And what if they suddenly hop into your lap, not one or two but hundreds at once? If these things are enough to excite you, then you must be in Okunoshima in Japan.
Yes! There is a rabbit Island, Okinoshima in Japan, better known as Usaga Jima. As the name explains, this is an island of rabbits. Rabbits outnumber the human beings living there. There are many species of rabbits drifting around aimlessly. They get caught in videos; feed with love and food by tourist. As no dogs and cats allowed here, they lounge around everywhere freely. If you show affection to them they will plop down next to you and climb on your arms.
Where is Okunoshima?
Okunoshima is a small island located in the Seto Inland Sea of Japan, 3 km away from the city of Takehara, Hiroshima. You can enjoy campsites, walking trails and sites of historical interest there. You can get there by ferry from Tadanaumi and Omishima.
Okunoshima is a haven for friendly rabbits. Japan is the birthplace of kawaii but Okunoshima is a home to them. Also, it is a popular tourist resort with a small golf course, camping grounds, and beautiful beaches.
Do you know the dark history of Okunoshima?
The island which shelters thousands of rabbits had once a very dark history. During World War II, the Island was selected for the construction of secret chemical munitions plant in 1927-1929 by the Japanese Imperial Army. Even though it was prohibited in the International treaty, it manufactured many poisonous gases like mustard gas, phosgene and others to make poisonous weapons.
Rabbits were used in the chemical munitions plants to test the potency of chemical weapons. What is more interesting here is that everything was done under so much confidentiality that the island Okunoshima was removed from the world map at that time.
The working conditions in the plant were quite hard and exposure to toxicity of the chemicals could cause acute illness. However, the residents of the island were not informed about this and those who know these things were threatened to remain silent. After the World War II finished, this plant was closed and all the documents relating to this plants were burnt down. Decades later, the government provided aid for the treatment of victims of the toxic chemicals.
Where did the rabbits come from?
There is no evidence of where so many rabbits came from. Some say that In 1971 a primary school outside of the island released 8 rabbits onto the island. These very eight rabbits matted with each other and grew into a large family.
It must be noted here that the rabbits which were used as sentinels of toxic chemical exposures were all killed. They were about 200 in numbers. Hence the rabbits living there today are not their descendants.
Problems in today’s Okunoshima
Today, Okunoshima is a very popular tourist place. People visit here to have a playful and good time with cute little bunnies. However, there are some problems that have developed recently on this island. Like, the visitors feed the feral rabbits with undefined amount and quality of food which has led to the uncontrolled and unsustainable growth in their population. This has adversely affected the ecosystem of the island.
The type of food that the bunnies are being fed with has a bad effect on their health. Visitors feed them with cabbage and other foods that are not bunny-friendly and it results in bad health.
Moreover, reliance on tourists for food means that rabbits end up gorging themselves on sunny days when lots of people visit the island and virtually starve when it’s cold and rainy and no-one visits. Due to all these factors, the lifespan of rabbits has reduced to two years only.
So when you visit Okunoshima next time, take care that you buy good bunny food packets for them and feed them with bags of love, too.
Have a good time with bunnies!