Okunoshima Island, arguably better known as ‘Rabbit Island’, is a relatively small island off the coast of Hiroshima. The island is so small that in fact you can walk the entire island, visit the wonderful sights, and get a balanced fill of feeding and playing with the rabbits over just a few hours, making it a great half-day trip to combine with another city nearby.
Whilst no one is really sure as to where the rabbits originated from or how they even got to the island, what’s more important is that now, more than 1000 of these adorable animals exist on the island, and they’re very well cared for. Don’t expect to be carefully avoiding rabbits with every step you take – that’s too many! – but as you make your way around the island to explore its corners and crevices, just know you’ll be joined by some furry friends along the way.
Whilst the rabbits themselves will always be the number one reason why tourists visit this island, the dark yet engaging history of this island has also been known to intrigue people enough for a visit.
In the late 1920s, the Japanese government opened up a top-secret chemical weapons facility on this island to manufacture products for the war. Due to its remote location yet easy access from the mainland, it proved to be the perfect location. The government even went to great lengths of erasing it from certain maps at that time to ensure its secrecy. When founded, many official documents were destroyed and chemicals disposed of to get rid of evidence, but eventually it was brought to light. Sounds like something from a movie, but this actually happened!
Okunoshima Island also hosts a few other activities, such as camping, but if you’re just there for the furries, then a few hours should do it.
How To Get To Okunoshima Island (Rabbit Island)
From Hiroshima, take the JR Sanyo Shinkansen to Mihara. At Mihara, you will need to catch the JR Kure Line to Tadanoumi Station, which is where you will alight and board the ferry to Okunoshima Island. The trip to Tadanoumi will take roughly just under one hour, and cost around 4,000 yen. From Tadanoumi Port (a few minutes away from the station on foot), there are hourly departures to Okunoshima. The trips across to and from the island take 15-minutes and cost 310-yen one way.
If you would like to feed the rabbits, we recommend that you get feeding food on the mainland near the port before boarding the ferry to Okunoshima Island.
If you want to visit Rabbit Island with a tour, we highly recommend to book this cycling trip.
Where To Stay In Okunoshima Island – Kyukamura Hotel
Being the only hotel on the entire island, you’re not exactly spoilt for choice, but in saying that, this 4-star hotel offers such a premium experience that you won’t even need another option – this is the one.
It offers an onsite restaurant which serves up delicious food, a well-maintained garden to peruse as well as its very own hot spring onsen bath. You can rent bikes here and explore the island, which is quite a fun activity for kids and with friends.
The rooms are as spacious as you can imagine, there is a shuttle bus that will take you to and from the port, and the possibility of sleeping near and waking up to the adorable furry island rabbits? That’s simply priceless.
Guest Tips: Don’t worry about getting bored on the island, as the hotel actually organises a bunch of activities for its guest that you can choose to participate in if you’d like.
Book It Now: Kyukamura Ohkunoshima
The Best Thing To Do In Okunoshima Island (Rabbit Island)
Here are the activities you shouldn’t miss in Okunoshima Island:
- Hang with the rabbits
- Visit the Poison Gas Museum
- Explore The Walking Trails Around the Island
- Go Camping
- Go Onsen Bathing
1. Hang with the rabbits!
I mean, as if it’s not the first thing you would do! These adorable animals will rush up to you the moment you step food on the island, their large expressive eyes begging to be fed some food before they flounce off into the bushes to do their own business. These rabbits come in a range of different colours and it’s always a treat to see them travel in groups and bouncing around the wide roads.
If you’re worried about the rabbits being wild, then lay your fears to rest because they’re actually quite tame and easy to deal with. They’re incredibly friendly and because so many visitors arrive on a daily basis, they’ve familiarized themselves with humans and are comfortable around most people. When they hop up, you know they’re begging for food!
When it comes to actually dealing with the rabbits, we recommend you read the Dos and Don’ts signs which will be plastered on the walls around the shops in the mainland, at the terminals, and at various areas around the island. They’re not difficult rules to follow, but they will help to make your experience more enjoyable whilst protecting the rabbits as well.
2. Visit the Poison Gas Museum
This Poison Gas Museum was not opened until relatively recently in the late 1980s, however, it serves as a powerful way for visitors to not only gain an understanding of what was produced back in the day, but also the decrepit conditions in which employees were forced to work in.
The museum is relatively small, but it’s definitely something you should take the time to explore. You will get to see displays of some of the equipment used to create the chemicals, see firsthand experiences documented in workers’ diaries, as well as some very well-preserved historical photos.
On that note, there are also some confronting images of victims of the poison gas that may not be suitable for certain audiences. An appalling fact that you’ll learn is that the uniform prepared for workers here was highly inadequate to protect them against the chemicals, and so many of the employees were left with long-term health implications that sometimes didn’t emerge until years on.
We highly recommend sparing some time at this museum, as it will open your eyes to a piece of history that some believe the Japanese government tried to suppress but in the end truth prevailed.
- Address: 5491 Tadanoumicho, Takehara, Hiroshima 729-2311, Japan
- Access: As the island is very small, once you start walking you will find the museum quite easily.
- Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm
- Price: 100yen
3. Explore The Walking Trails Around the Island
If you’re looking to explore the entire island, there are walking trails which will take you through and around the island. Follow these trails and you will come across some historical landmarks that, whilst not exactly large or exciting enough to warrant a long visit, will make for some cool photo opportunities. However, please note that with the structures which have a sign indicating no trespassing, you will need to strictly follow the rule.
4. Go Camping
Close-by to the Okunoshima Pier is the Okunoshima Camping Ground. It’s actually free so once you step food onto the island, you’re ready to pitch up your tent! Be warned though, because of the number of rabbits on the island, you will most likely experience some cosying up to the flaps of your tent and sometimes even entering your tent at random hours of night. Not sure if this is a bad thing or not!
It’s a well-equipped site with toilets and clear pathways, a bonfire table, a fire grill area where you can cook, and an entire firepit area (but this is only for student groups).
- Address: Tadanoumicho, Takehara, Hiroshima 729-2311, Japan
- Access: It is minutes on foot from the Okunoshima Pier.
5. Go Onsen Bathing
We mentioned earlier that the only hotel on the island (Kyukamura Ohkunoshima) offers a hot spring facility, and lucky for day trippers, this onsen is also open to visitors. There are two types of baths available called Otsukutsu no Yu, and Kotsuku no Yu, that split into two sections for men and women.
It is said that the waters in these onsen pools contain high amounts of radium, and can aid in easing neuralgia, chills, and fatigue as well as joint and muscle pain and strain. Whilst the men’s Otsukutsu no Yu is the larger of the bath, it’s the men’s side of the Kotsuku no Yu that has the best view of the Seto Inland Sea.
- Address: 5476-4 Tadanoumicho, Takehara, Hiroshima 729-2311
- Hours (for day trippers): 8:00am – 6:00pm
- Price: 420 yen
- Towel Rental: 110 yen
Okunoshima Island is a must do for many people simply because of its unique rabbit habitat that’s safe and fun to experience. Whilst some might only be interested in seeing the cute animals, others might want to explore of what the island has to offer, and to this we say – go for it because Okunoshima Island is much more than the adorable furry animals.