Ever dreamt of being Alice and finding your wonderland? Or have you ever wanted to own too many cute rabbits you could play with all day long? What if we tell you that your dreams might come true if you visit this small island in Japan popularly known as “the Rabbit Island”?
Well, obviously you won’t become small as Alice from wonderland or you will find a rabbit who would talk, but yes, you will find rabbits, lots and lots of them. And the best part is, unlike rabbits from zoos or forests; they won’t run away from you. Instead, they might come to you hoping you will feed them. So do not disappoint them and take some rabbit food along with you when you visit Ōkunoshima Island.
Where is it?
A very small island situated in the inland Sea of Japan, under Hiroshima prefecture, on the east side of Hiroshima district. It takes almost 15 minutes from the mainland to reach here. You can take a train to Mihara station, and then take another local train to Tadanômi. Here, locals will tell you where from you can take a ferry ride to the island which comes in every 20-30 minutes. And the ferry ride is amazing itself, as it lets you enjoy the beautiful sea and many small islands of the sea. After you reach here, you can roam around even on foot as it is too small. There is a hotel too if you plan to stay overnight, but it is advisable to make prior reservations as rooms may not be available during peak time. Obviously, you can visit it and eat something. Otherwise, you can keep your luggage safe as they have a short term luggage keeping service. There is a museum on the island itself, where the dark history of the island is explained through artefacts and other documents.
What is the history of this island?
During World War II, Japan’s government planned to set up a factory that would manufacture poison gas and tear gas. As they got to know from research that other countries too have set up chemical weapon factories in case of war or any disaster. Because of its location, as can be seen on the map of Japan that it is away from the main city of Tokyo; Ōkunoshima was chosen to be the one. To keep it a very secret project, Japan went to great extents and removed this island from the map. Workers were told to not open their mouths and weren’t completely aware of what they were actually doing inside the chemical plant. Until 1945, this centre of research and production of chemicals was kept a secret, after which, i.e., after the war ended, the already produced gases and other things were either buried or burnt. The rabbits were kept there to test the efficiency of the gases and since the factory had come to a close, the rabbits were set free.
There is no trace of chemical tests on the present-day rabbit population. In 1988, the museum was opened to tell visitors about the chemical factories and also why world peace is the best. The families of the workers have contributed to the artefact gallery of the museum, which is just 2 rooms big! The old buildings and ruins of the factories can still be seen and entries are prohibited owning to the safety of the visitors.
What does the hotel serve?
Yes, you can. The hotel on the island lets you rent towels so that you can enjoy the beach and also enjoy their hot spring which is available at the hotel itself. And when you feel hungry, you can dine on local delicacies or sit and enjoy inside the café. Since rabbits are nocturnal animals, their activities are mostly observed during early mornings or late at night. So if you stay overnight, you can take a bicycle from the hotel and follow the track they’ve made and look at rabbits being their natural self. And what could be more exciting then looking at the sky by the beach and counting stars?
Do they have activities?
Wait, the island is small, but it has got a lot! It has a Rabbit souvenir and gift shop, where you can buy these amazing mugs, bags, lockets and whatnot, all marked with the seal of the island. Yes! They’ve got a seal too and the best part is, you can also buy these seals or get some postcards with the ‘two rabbits’ seal. Lovely right?
As said, the island is small, but it has got a lot. You can choose to go hiking here and reach the lighthouse where you can view the scenic beauty of the place. Or you can chose to take a bicycle and tour the island on it and watch rabbits as they hurriedly crossroads. Or if you are too tired or are a lazy bum, you can choose to stay back at the hotel and enjoy various Japanese delicacies from fresh octopuses to Sushis. And when you leave, you can look at the amazing clock tower that changes colour according to the weather and has a puzzle for you too. And do you know that since bunnies are known to have high fertility, they are considered as a good symbol for childbirth and women’s health? So if you are newly married and you visit this place, someone from the island is definitely going to tell you that you did a great job coming here.
What a beautiful little escape it is. And even after all this, you feel like having more, you can go their official site and keep looking at the oh-so-lovely pictures of bunnies! Yes, they have a website too. And if you are planning to visit here in your next vacation, it is advised that you go to their page once so that you understand how to reach and also their rules that they follow on the island. Visit http://rabbit-island.info/en/ to know more.
Rabbit Island gives hope to the world, in the way that it tells us that, love and peace can change the whole perception of a place. Think of all the nations, cities, and localities start letting Mother Nature be at peace and stop harming animals and forget about wars, fights, riots; what a lovely place to live this world would be.
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