I know a lot of you won’t have heard of Bunny Island, but of course, to someone like me (and also, someone like Kirbee) Bunny Island sounds like somewhere that would never actually exist. A Japanese island overrun by rabbits? Hundreds of them living free, off the land and generosity of tourists? No!
…Well…yes, actually there is such a place. And we went there!
I did some research before we went and sussed out the general area of where Okunoshima actually is. It’s within two hours of Hiroshima, which in the grand scheme of things didn’t seem all that far away on the map. We planned to either stay in Tokyo our entire trip and day trip it to Okunoshima, or stay in Kyoto for a few days and do the same. We opted for Kyoto as it was much closer than Tokyo and when I did my vague research Tokyo to Okunoshima seemed pretty undoable. I had also never been to Kyoto and was keen to see it anyway, so we decided to do that in the end.
Now I’m not going to lie, in reality Okunishima ISNT REALLY that close to Kyoto. I guess in a way where everything is SO FAR APART in Australia, it’s probably fairly close, but in a “I’m on holidays and don’t want to spend an entire day travelling” kind of way, yeah….it’s actually pretty distant. The annoying thing is I only really realised this the night before we planned to go, when I re-looked at the real time instructions of how to get there by train. The quoted time it would take kind of scared me, but in the end we woke up bright and early, japan rail passes in hand, hopped on a train and were on our way.
Just FYI we stayed at the Royal Park Hotel in Sanjo (which I highly recommend), which meant the path we took was as follows: Sanjo>Tofukuji>Kyoto>Fukuyama>Mihara>Tadanoumi (ferry)>Okunoshima (between Kyoto and Fukuyama we ended up taking two bullet trains because our passes wouldn’t cover the direct train.)
FOUR AND A HALF HOURS, four regular trains, two bullet trains and a ferry ride later, we were on the island, with a total of about two hours to actually spend there before we had to make the big trip home again.
Luckily we were greeted by lots of fluffy tails and friendly little faces.
There was certainly an abundance of adorable bunnies. There is NO doubt about that. These little ones were some of my favourites.
There were also cute little bunny signs everywhere and these cool devices with bunny ears made for listening to the ocean.
Just like Kyoto there were also shrines and a lot of traditional and original artefacts still there from the war days. The back story of the island and how the bunnies got there is that it was a secret island used during the war to test and produce poison gas (apparently using the poor rabbits as test specimens), and when the war was over they let the bunnies go and let them rule the island. Another theory is that school children visited the island and left the bunnies there to live.
I’m not sure how they really ended up there, but I am sure that the quoted 300 bunnies that live there are actually more like 30,000. They are EVERYWHERE! and though we didn’t have nearly enough time to explore, there were clearly huge burrows of bunny families hiding in the middle of the island undergrowth, which would make it nearly impossible to count them anyway.
The bunnies were all clustered around the one Hotel which exists on the island. This photo is taken on the steps of the hotel, which seemed to have hundreds of bunnies hiding in and around it. The hotel is the place where you buy your bunny food from too.
Another shot of the Hotel on the Island. It looked a little scary to me (though maybe it was the squat toilets that scared me most?).
Despite the fact I felt like the bunnies were all a little bit feral, Kirbee insisted on an ultimate bunny island photo with them crawling all over her. The joy on her face pretty much sums it all up! Totally worth it, of course.
The baby bunnies were my favourite thing on the island, and of course there were LOADS of them.
Most of the bunnies seemed to run in shades of caramel, grey and the occasional black or chocolate.
I had to give this little baby a squeeze, she was just too cute.
Even Trev got into the spirit of bunny island.
In reflection of our trip here, I probably wouldn’t go back to bunny island. I do feel like there were an awful lot of mangey looking buns who weren’t being looked after by anyone. I was a bit sad seeing the scrappy looking ears and the bunnies who’d obviously been fighting each other. There was also a lot of rabbits who had this weird sneezing thing happening, which made me think there might have been a bit of bunny flu or something going through the numbers of rabbits living there. I also couldn’t help but wonder to myself how they keep the numbers of rabbits down, but then I also thought sometimes its better not to think about such things and just enjoy the fact I got to see so many rabbits in one place! Bunny Island is certainly a once in a lifetime trip, it’s so incredibly cool and strange to see THAT MANY bunnies in every corner of a tiny island, all wanting to be friends and eat your bunny pellets. Kx