Rabbit Island: Okunoshima

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If you’re near Hiroshima, or if you just love rabbits and want to make a trip to Japan to see more of them, consider going to Okunoshima! 大久野島

We made Okunoshima the destination for a two-family with kids trip and it was a good time. It’s basically an island rabbit petting zoo where the rabbits run free and come and go as they please. Great for the kids! The location is also interesting enough to keep the adults busy as well. You can also swim in the ocean as there is a nice beach, and there are also historical spots to check out. The island was a secret location used to produce and test poison gas during WWII. Apparently rabbits were used as test subjects. Now it’s a rabbit paradise!

You can get to Okunoshima by taking a 15 minute ferry from Tadanoumi (忠海). Tadanoumi is about 30 minutes from Mihara (三原) on the Kure Line, and Mihara is about 30 minutes from Hiroshima on the bullet train (Kodama), or about 1.5 hours from Hiroshima on regular trains.

Mihara is known for octopus, otherwise not much is going on there really. We travelled to Mihara and arrived at about 5pm after spending the day sight-seeing Hiroshima. We stayed the night in an inn in Mihara, and then left the next morning at about 8am to take the 30 minute train to Tadanoumi to catch the 9:30 ferry to Okunoshima.

You can find the Tadanoumi to Okunoshima ferry schedule here. Click to enlarge. It may change over time, but this is current as of July 2014.

ferry-schedule

After spending the better part of the day with the rabbits we left the island on the 2:30 pm ferry. The return ferry was MUCH smaller than the ferry going out to the island. The ride is only 15 minutes, but if you’re traveling with young children get to the ferry port early so you can be sure to get a seat. We travelled straight back to Osaka the same day we left Okunoshima and were home by about 7 pm. It wouldn’t be easy, but you could probably day trip Okunoshima from Osaka if you got an early start!

An elderly man working the ferry stop at Tadanojima started chatting with me and asked how I found out about the island. He then said that this year (2014) they have been getting a large number of foreign guests, especially from Northern Europe. He says they mostly claim to have simply discovered the island on the web, and have come to see the rabbits. That’s a pretty maniac trip if you ask me! From Northern Europe to see some rabbits?! I posted some links to media coverage of Okunoshima at the end of the article if you want to see what hype is being created.

The island itself is a good time. You can’t miss the rabbits, they are everywhere. You can buy food for the rabbits on the island, but you can also bring your own cabbage, lettuce, or carrots to feed them. We even saw one guy carrying a huge bag of rabbit food that he brought in himself… Probably to save money.

  • The rabbits are so used to people that' it's easy to get up close.
  • Waiting for the ferry to Ookunojima at Tadanoumi.
  • This man working the ferry at Tadanoumi explained that there have been a lot of tourists from Northern Europe visiting the "bunny island' Okunojima this year (2014).
  • Trains going in both directions arrive on the same side of the station at Tadanoumi.
  • Tadanoumi station! Note the rabbit. Ookunojima island is probably one of the only reasons people from out of town come to this station.
  • Mihara is the "octopus town."
  • The island is mostly void of traffic other than the island buses and other small working vehicles.
  • You can also take a dip in the beach if you bring your gear.
  • harvey's photo
  • It's easy to become a bunny celebrity with some rabbit snacks that you can buy on the island, or some carrots or cabbage that you bring from home.
  • harvey's photo
  • harvey's photo
  • harvey's photo
  • The abandoned power plant.
  • harvey's photo
  • harvey's photo
  • harvey's photo
  • harvey's photo
  • harvey's photo
  • Waiting for the ferry to Okunojima on the Tadanoumi side.
  • The ferry heading to Okunojima from Tadanoumi is pretty large. The return ferry was much much smaller.
  • harvey's photo
  • harvey's photo
  • harvey's photo
  • 忠海 (tadanoumi) 大久野島 (Ookunojima)

Planning to visit Okunoshima? Here are some tips:

– Bring human snacks. There is only one real restaurant on the island and their service is incredibly slow. It took us about 30 minutes to get our food, and the beers came out like 20 min before the edamame. Guess they are on island time. At lunch time the place gets very crowded, so plan to eat early if you’re going to eat there!

– Rabbit Poop. There is a lot of rabbit poop everywhere, so consider wearing shoes instead of sandals if it’s not too hot. So, you know, you don’t get rabbit poop on your feet.

– Rent a bicycle. You can rent a bicycle to get around the island. It’s a pretty significant walk from one location to the other, so a bicycle is a good way to get around.

– Bring a stroller. If you’ve got kids, bring a stroller. The walk ways are nice and smooth, so it’s great for wheeling around. The ferry boats are also big enough to take your stroller over on.

Links:
Okunojima – Wikipedia
Okunojima Rest Villiage Official Site – This is the largest and only hotel on the island.
Buzzfeed – Pics of Bunny Island
CBS News on Okunoshima Island

A medley of fan films…