Ōkunoshima, Hiroshima Prefecture

Hi everyone, I am Gerard from Northern Ireland. I am reading a master’s degree at the Prefectural University of Hiroshima.


Recently some friends and I went to Ōkunoshima also known as Usagi Jima or Rabbit Island. Situated in the Inland Sea of Japan in the city of Takehara, Hiroshima Prefecture. It is accessible by ferry from Tadanoumi and Ōmishima. Ōkunoshima is occupied by hundreds of wild rabbits that roam the forests and paths, chase tourists, appear in viral videos and just generally lounge around.


A theory as to why the vast number of rabbits inhabit the island is that eight rabbits were brought to the island by schoolchildren in 1971, where they bred until they reached their current population, which is potentially in the thousands. And with the island being a predator-free zone, if the number of rabbits hasn't hit the thousands yet, it's inevitable it will do soon.


However, another theory exists, whilst the island is well known for its fun and cute residents it also has a darker past. Between 1929-1945, the Japanese army secretly produced over 6,000 tons of poison gas on Okunoshima, which was removed from maps of the area and chosen because of its discreet location and distance from civilian populations. At the time, an unfortunate colony of rabbits was brought to the island in order to test the effects of the poison.


The ruins of these chemical facilities can also be seen on the island. Some dispute this theory as it has been reported that all the rabbits were killed when the factory ceased production. I choose not to believe this theory as it brings down the mood of this article, however, I feel it necessary to report the facts. To cheer you up after that disturbing information here are some pictures of rabbits, enjoy!