Bunny island is the best place in Japan
Imagine a place where in the absence of humans, bunnies have repopulated…
There is an island called Okunoshima (also called Ohkunoshima, Ohkuno island, or 大久の島) in the Seto inland sea off the coast of Hiroshima prefecture where this has taken place. There are humans on the island, but they are all visitors (as far as we know). The island belongs to the bunnies, and we were fortunate enough to have spent a day there last week.
We had been planning to go to bunny island for the past few months, and in that time we have only come across a couple of people who had heard of it before we told them – even our Japanese friends were confused when we described an island full of bunnies practically in their backyard.
Bunny island (before the bunnies) housed a secret poison gas manufacturing facility during World War II. We were able to explore the ruins of artillery posts, scorched gas storage buildings, a power plant and an air raid shelter. The history stuff was neat, but that wasn’t what we went to bunny island for.
We brought 2 heads of cabbage and 9 carrots with us in a backpack so we could spend some quality time with the bunnies. The Bunny (that’s a proper noun now) had the time of her life feeding lots of little bunnies. She preferred to give her attention and her food to 1-3 bunnies at a time, she did not enjoy it as much when they formed hordes. She had never experienced so many animals up close – and I can’t think of another place in the world to interact with so many wild rabbits in their natural habitat. Readers, do correct me if I’m wrong about that – we’d love to go if there’s another bunny island somewhere.
There were hundreds of bunnies to feed and play with around the island. We toured all 4km of the circumference. The largest concentrations of bunnies were at the ferry dock and in front of the resort hotel, presumably because that’s where most of the tourists are. The ones at the hotel were quite lazy. They didn’t bother to get up unless we stuck food right in their face. I tried to count them at one point, and I lost track at 50.
Once we got away from the lazy bunny area, we saw groups of them on paths and trails everywhere. The ones we came across while we walked around were always happy to hop over to us from afar and greet us with hungry eyes. In most places if we stopped for a moment it wasn’t hard to get a crowd of 5-10 gathered.
The best part of visiting bunny island was playing with our Bunny and the wild bunnies together. When little kids get to safely play with animals in nature, there’s a joy that can’t be replicated in man-made habitats. Zoos are great fun, and there is a place for them when done right. Tiger, snake, or velociraptor island (should they exist) might not have been as enjoyable, though Jurassic park was a good idea in theory, right?
Bunny island was a perfect fit for our family, and it has been the highlight of our traveling experience in Japan so far.
Want to see more pictures of the bunnies? Of course you do: