Okunoshima, or Rabbit Island Japan, has more than just cute rabbits to feed. Whether you camp, swim at the beach or learn its history, this island is a must see!
Okunoshima, Rabbit Island
So kawaii! Japan is known for the many islands or areas that are densely populated by kawaii (cute) animals! There is Zao Fox Village, Okunoshima or Rabbit Island, Miyajima is known as Deer Island and Tashirojima or Cat Island to name a few.
Out of all the animal islands that Japan has, this was the one I was most interested in. When I found out it wasn’t very far from Iwakuni, we planned our trip! We have been twice already and will probably go again if we have friends or family visit who want to see it. I wouldn’t mind going back, especially if we go to Omishima island again!
What is rabbit island?
Rabbit island Japan is formerly known for chemical weapon testing during WWII. Years later rabbits were let loose on the island where today it has become a popular travel destination in Hiroshima Prefecture.
Rabbit Island Video
Rabbits of Okunoshima Island
The first thing I noticed about these rabbits is that they are very territorial. They have an area and they stick to it. They will wait for you to come into their section, then they will approach you waiting for your food. When you walk away they stay in their little area. I thought it was so bizarre. It’s a good thing though otherwise, you would have hundreds of rabbits following you all over the island! There are some rabbits with multiple battle wounds from fighting. My guess is over territory.
I was beginning to wonder if some rabbits were blind because we would set the food down almost right in front of them and they wouldn’t see it. On our first visit to rabbit island Japan, Royce was trying to feed one of them and the rabbit nipped him because he got a little too close. That was the only negative experience we had while feeding the rabbits. Make sure you hold food flat on your hand, set the food on the ground or keep your fingers far away from their teeth!
It was really cute watching the kids interact with the rabbits. Jeannie is so verbal and confident talking to the rabbits, saying “Come here, rabbit!” But as soon as they turned toward her she would run away saying “It’s getting me!” Royce just kept saying how much the rabbits liked him. He would crouch down next to them, let them come smell and nuzzle him, and happily whisper, “They really like me.”
Do’s and Don’ts of Bunny Island:
- Don’t try and feed them snacks or human food.
- Do bring your own carrots.
- Don’t bring cabbage, they mostly avoided it when we tried to feed them.
- Do hold the food flat on your hand or place it on the ground.
- Don’t try and hold the rabbits.
- Do be careful if you drive or cycle around the island.
- Don’t try and take them home as pets.
Food to Feed the Rabbits on Rabbit Island
You can bring your own food to feed the rabbits. We found that they definitely enjoyed the carrots more than the lettuce. We saw people feeding them cabbage as well. I’m not sure how much they enjoyed that. We brought a bag of baby carrots and I would bite them into about 3-4 pieces and give them to the kids to hand out. We found that this made the fun last longer rather than handing out the full carrots. There were also rabbits being fed with a large carrot. They would nibble on the large carrot while a person held it. This is a safe way to keep your fingers from being bitten!
Exploring Rabbit Island Japan
Our second time coming here opened our eyes to a whole new side of the Island, literally. The first time we took a right when we got off the ferry and we didn’t make it very far up that path. This time we went left and were able to see much more than the first time, it probably helped that we didn’t stop at every rabbit to feed it – although it is tempting! There is a free shuttle that you can take you to the National Park Resort Hotel, or the walk will take about 15 minutes.
The Left Fork on Okunoshima Island
Past the store and information center immediately beyond the port, there is a road that leads you along the shore. You can fish along this area. We looked out and were able to see several jellyfish!
You then come upon an open field where you can camp. There is a kitchen area where you can cook and clean food.
Just past this is a visitors center. On the inside, there was a display in the ground beneath a glass floor showing a 3D map of the island. You can stand over it and see all of the highlights of bunny island.
Next there is the beach. After seeing the jellyfish, I would be hesitant to get in! But there were a lot of people there, there was even a lifeguard on duty. They had some areas covered in bamboo slats for shade (¥1000 to rent, only provide shade during the afternoon) and a store where you can rent floatation devices and get snacks.
Just up from here is the Okunoshima lighthouse.
There are a couple of beautiful overlooks along this route but this was the farthest that we made it. The rabbits were scarce and the kids were wanting more bunny action so we turned around. By turning around at this point we missed the Poison Gas Museum and the National Park Resort Hotel with its hot spring.
The Right Fork on Okunoshima Island
Along the beautiful coastline, you will begin to see the groups of rabbits, who stay in their little territories. Through a small tunnel, you come across a very large building which is the power plant ruins. Matt was working on a project and went inside and took some pictures. The place is huge!
Continuing up the path there are so many bunnies to feed! Next, you will come to the gunpowder storehouse remains. It was at about this point that we decided to turn around.
Dark History of Okunoshima, Japan’s Rabbit Island
This has not always been Rabbit Island. The island did not have much going on until the two decades before World War II. It had three fishing families that lived on it until the government took it over. In 1925 they initiated a secret program that conducted research on chemical weapons; the island was taken off of many maps and it was kept a secret.
Many rabbits were used in the chemical weapons tests, but the rabbits that are here now are not descendants of those rabbits. It wasn’t until 1988 when the Okunoshima Poison Gas Museum was opened that people were made more aware of the happenings on this island during WWII. According to the islands website, it is believed that rabbits were brought back to the island after the war to check for poisonous gasses similiar to caged birds being brought into mines.
Plan your trip to Okunoshima, Rabbit Island Japan:
It takes about 2 hours to get to the Tadanoumi Port from Iwakuni. We took the toll road and it cost ¥2,100. There is parking right next to the port, so don’t worry about trying to find parking as you pull into Tadanoumi! There is a little store that has a vending machine where you purchase your ferry tickets, or you can purchase them directly from the counter.
How much does Okunoshima cost?
- A roundtrip ferry ticket for adults is ¥310 (ages 12+) and ¥160 for children (7-11 years old). Children 6 and under are free. Check out the map below to see where to pick up the Okunoshima Island ferry.
The rabbit island ferry ride is about another 15 minutes to get to Okunoshima Island. Make sure to check out the ferry schedule so you know what time the ferry will bring you back, you don’t want to get stuck out there!
What to Know about Bringing a car onto Okunoshima
- You can bring a car to Okunoshima Island, but note that you will be asked to park it immediately.
- The cost to bring a car is ¥1460 each way. Included in the price, one adult is free per vehicle fee.
- Kids 6 and under are free, and each adult is ¥310 each way.
Fun Tip: On the drive to and from the port you pass nearby the Hiroshima airport. We were amazed, thinking we were seeing an unfinished bridge, when all of a sudden a large passenger plane landed on it! Stick around when you see it, it’s worth watching!
If you’re looking for more to do in the area of rabbit island Japan, then check out Omishima Island to visit the salt factory and the Oyamazumi Shrine Treasure Hall, it’s definitely worth the trip!
We are always looking for fun places to go, let us know which island is your favorite!