Rabbits and War Remains: Two key attractions to enjoy and make the most out of your trip to Okunoshima (Hiroshima).

Rabbits and War Remains: Two key attractions to enjoy and make the most out of your trip to Okunoshima (Hiroshima).
About 15 minutes by ferry from Tadanoumi Port in Takehara City, Hiroshima, "Okunoshima" is a small island 4km in circumference located a little bit off to the west of Shimanami Kaido.
In this article, we introduce the top attractions in Okunoshima, a designated part of Seto Inland Sea National Park, where many tourists both within Japan and abroad come to visit.

Did you know? “Okunoshima” has two contradictory tourist attractions.

With around 700 rabbits inhabiting the island, it is also known by the name “Usagi Shima” (Rabbit Island). There are various theories to this. The strongest one is that the rabbits that were originally raised at the local school were intentionally released, and then they naturally increased to their current number.
In contrast to this peaceful image, there was once a poison gas factory in the island—Okunoshima is, in fact, one of the islands in Japan that was literally erased from the map long ago.

The island is small enough for a day trip, but to enjoy the attractions leisurely, we recommend spending the night at Kyukamura, the only accommodation facility available in Okunoshima.

Key Attraction 1: An overwhelming 700 rabbits will welcome you as if they are fighting for your attention.

  • Okunoshima
  • Okunoshima

|Rabbits all over the island. Anywhere you go, there are rabbits, rabbits, rabbits!

Once you set foot on the Okunoshima Port, a huge group of rabbits will welcome you! Many tourists visit the island to see these rabbits, so they are very tame and will approach humans—especially those who are holding their favorite food. No doubt about it—these cute rabbits will surely capture your heart!

These rabbits are found everywhere all over the island. From the "Power Plant Ruins" which we'll discuss later, to the Observatory found 100 meters above ground, and even in places you'd never even think of, there are rabbits to be found!
Also, you can still find the rabbits hopping about even if it’s raining. As long as it is not a heavy downpour, you can schedule a trip to the island during the rainy season without worries.
  • Okunoshima
  • Okunoshima

|Rules in feeding the rabbits

With these many cute rabbits, you really can't help but want to feed them vegetables, and some bread and sweets that you have, but that's not allowed. Unlike humans, when rabbits eats various things, they can easily get sick.

Since rabbit food is not sold on the island, make sure to board the ferry after purchasing rabbit food products in the convenience store or supermarket near Tadanoumi Port or Tadanoumi Station. Once you come across the rabbits, please do not chase after them or hold them in your arms.

Key Attraction 2: World War II Remains that will tell the history to future generations

In contrast to that paradise of rabbits, there are also many war remains in Okunoshima. During World War II, the Geneva Protocol banned the use of chemical warfare. At the time, the island was used as a location to manufacture poisoned gas, and hence, they went as far as to erase the island's existence on the map to keep it all a secret.

After the war, most of the facilities such as tanks that stored poison gas were disposed, but many remnants are still on the island. Their presence seems to call out to us, asking questions about war and peace.

|Power Plant Ruins

  • Okunoshima
  • Okunoshima
Among the ruins of the war, these remnants of a large, 3-storey power plant is particularly noticeable. At the time, 8 diesel generators with heavy fuel oil were installed; these seemed to supply electricity to the poison gas factory.
The residues are long gone and only the power plant foundations remain, along with traces that it was once used as a power station. Although the building is deteriorating and the interior is off-limits, visitors are permitted to enter up to the front area.

|Poison Storehouse Remains

▲Nagaura Poison Storehouse Remains
Okunoshima was once a peaceful island with a mild, temperate climate good for crops. To protect military capital Hiroshima and military port Kure, 16 guns were installed in the island after the Sino-Japanese war.
Thereafter, the island was turned into a poison gas factory. It is said that 1,200 tons of poison gas was produced per year at the time, with 1942 as the peak of production. Among them, the Nagaura Poison Storehouse held the largest reservoir in the island, with 6 poison gas tanks containing about 100 tons.
The materials and tools used at the time are on display in the Poison Gas Museum, a place that tells us the misery of war and the preciousness of peace.
  • Okunoshima
  • Okunoshima
▲Sangenya Gas Storehouse Remains(left)/Poison Gas Museum(right)
While wandering around the numerous remnants of war left destroyed in the island, you will get to realize how painful and horrifying war is. On the other hand, Okunoshima also has a lot of rabbits as well as a wonderful island scenery that seems to have the power to heal all wounds.
With these contradicting attractions you can never find anywhere else, visiting Okunoshima will surely be worth the trip.
【Address】Okunoshima, Tadanoumi-cho, Takehara, Hiroshima 729-2311
1.From JR Mihara Station, go to Tadanoumi Station via JR Kure Line.
2.From Tadanoumi Station, walk 5 minutes to Tadanoumi Port.
3.From Tadanoumi Port, ride the ferry 15 minutes to Okunoshima.

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