Rabbit Island

Japan’s beloved rabbit island has a dark past

Where is Rabbit Island?

Rabbit Island is located on the small island of Ōkunoshima in the Seto Inland Sea in eastern Hiroshima. Instead of Ōkunoshima, the island is often called Usagi Shima (Rabbit Island in English). The island is home to over 1,000 wild rabbits, who have plenty of fields and forests to explore.

Dark and historical origins

But how do so many rabbits end up in one place? There are many rumors about how these cuddly creatures arrived, some sicker than others.

The first rumors go back to World War II when Okunoshima was formerly used as a chemical munitions plant to manufacture tear gas and mustard. Despite the Geneva Protocol banning the use of chemical weapons in 1925, there was a loophole where these despicable weapons could still be created and stored away. Rabbits were unfortunate test subjects for these experiments, brought to the island to determine the efficacy of the weapons. The remaining rabbits were released by workers after the end of World War II, leaving them to survive in the wild.

Chemical storage area, Okunoshima, Japan. Via Wikimedia Commons.

but, Ellis KrauseD., a professor of Japanese politics at the University of California, San Diego, questioned the rumours. In an interview with Krause, he revealed that the Americans who liberated the island killed all the rabbits used in the experiments.

If those rabbits were gone, how did all those rabbits end up on the island? Another rumor refers to the actions of schoolchildren, who released eight rabbits on the island during a field trip. with no Predators Or fishermen to disrupt them, rabbits multiplied in the large number for which the island is famous today.

Can I visit rabbits?

You can not only visit rabbits, but also create a profile whole vacation get out of it! Visitors can either take a boat ride from the mainland for a day visit or stay at the National Park Resort Hotel, a vacation spot on the island. Visitors can interact with the rabbits, ride a bike around the island, sit in the hot springs, and even visit the chemical plants used during World War II, now converted into the Okunoshima Toxic Gas Museum. It seems to be the perfect spot for any couple’s rabbits.

The island has strict safety guidelines for its furry residents. Rabbit Island prevents tourists from chasing, carrying, or taking home hares. Tourists also cannot release their pet rabbits on the island, as local rabbits are territorial and will not accept strangers as one of them. Rabbit Island also asks guests to refill Water Buckets around the island (more on that soon) and watch out for rabbits while biking or driving.

The Rabbit’s Dark Secret

At a glance, Rabbit Island looks like a paradise with a dark and historical past, but one that also has a very current threat: the tourists themselves.

Due to the lack of sufficient vegetation cover for the island to support its large population, rabbits Reliance on tourists to feed them, which leads to inconsistent feeding times and poor diets. Rabbits are fed on busy tourism days and hardly eat on bad weather days with little foot traffic.

The diet of hares usually consists of leaves, plants and seeds. However, tourists often bring carrots and cabbage to feed their new long-eared friends. Cabbage is deficient for rabbits because they find it difficult to digest, and the food is too low in fiber for their nutritional needs.

Food is not the only problem for rabbits. Due to toxins from Japan’s experiences during World War II, the island’s groundwater was polluted. This is why the island asks tourists to refill the water buckets for the rabbits. All of these factors culminate in a high turnover rate for rabbits, who are only two years old.

lucky be a rabbit

Despite the dark secrets of Rabbit Island, the animals are very important to Japan. In Japanese culture, rabbits symbolize luck, while the Japanese kanji for rabbit is similar to the kanji meaning “get rid of” or “disappeared.” Hence, rabbits will save you from your bad luck!

Rabbits are also associated with fertility and childbirth due to their high reproductive rates. Rabbit Island supports this idea by encouraging those trying to start a family to visit the island to receive good luck from the thriving winners.

If you find yourself hoping to make it to Rabbit Island, remember to think about its hairy past and take steps to create a positive environment for the island’s rabbits and all kinds of rabbits.


Written by James Whelan, Ripleys.com contributor

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