In case you didn’t know, Japan is kinda known for tiny islands full of cute, furry animals. Which is the most Japan thing ever and we love it. Today we’re focusing on the island known as Bunny Island which is full of, you guessed it, bunnies. But don’t be fooled, things are going to get dark. Let’s get started!
Our story begins in 1971 when an elementary school released eight rabbits on the island of Ōkunoshima. And since rabbits notoriously, well, let’s just say by 2013 there were over 400 rabbits, so you can imagine how many there are now.
Rabbit Island is not a theme park, so these rabbits are really just out there living and ready to chase you. For fun, of course. But it’s important to keep in mind that rabbits aren’t the fastest, so keep a watchful eye if you’re cycling around the island. Don’t feed the rabbits human food, you can buy rabbit food to feed them at the hotel. And while they are cute as buttons, don’t chase them or try to hold them, remember that you’re a guest in their home.
There are a lot of old, abandoned buildings on Rabbit Island (we’ll get to the ‘why’ in a minute) so if you’re a fan of urban history, there are a ton of old buildings from various stages of existence for visitors to explore. There are old, abandoned factories there, forts that have sat empty since the early 1900s, and even a lighthouse. And just a friendly reminder that you’ll be exploring all of this while fluffy bunnies gallivant around you.
There’s more to do here than just look at adorable bunnies, though we wouldn’t blame you if that’s all you wanted to do, but there are also some extremely scenic hiking trails on the island. If you make your way up to the highest point on the island you’ll get a breathtaking view of the sea and even more tiny islands on the horizon.
Okay, now for the dark stuff.
Back in 1929, the Japanese army began manufacturing chemical weapons and incidentally rabbits were brought to the island to test the effectiveness of the poison. Now while some believe that workers may have released these captive animals to roam the island after the war, most experts disagree with this stating that the Americans euthanized all the rabbits that were being used for experiments.
Luckily those days are long gone and now you can visit the island for historical reasons and cute, fluffy reasons.