Be smothered with joy on the famous Rabbit Island
Why spend Christmas on Christmas Island when you could be cosying up with rabbits on Rabbit Island?
Known also as Ōkunoshima and Usagi Jima (“Rabbit Island”), this bunny paradise is a small island lying on the Inland Sea of Japan in the city of Takehara of Hiroshima Prefecture.
Although the rabbit population here is feral, they are rather tame and will happily approach humans for interaction. Being surrounded by such fuzzy creatures might be the most joyous way to celebrate Christmas!
These hundreds of rabbits can be found all over the island. They roam the paths, hide in the forests, hop after tourists, and just lounge around in the sun.
If you visit, you can buy food to feed the rabbits with. Just be prepared to be chased by scores of these adorable balls of fluff – not that it would be a bad thing! The island was popularised after this video uploaded to YouTube went viral (Warning: aww alert!):
It is believed that the oodles of bunnies hopping about on Ōkunoshima today are the descendants of chemical war survivors.
During World War II, Ōkunoshima housed a poison gas factory – one of the key chemical weapons production sites in Japan at the time. Rabbits that were used for testing were euthanised after the war, but eight rabbits were rumoured to be released by schoolchildren in 1971.
So, perhaps the truth isn’t as mutated as we are led to believe, but it’s truly remarkable (and a little ironic) that the island is now overrun by these fluffy test subjects.
Besides hitting a high mark on the kawaii (“cute”) meter, Ōkunoshima also houses a popular resort with hot spring baths, a small golf course, camping grounds, and other amenities. The island is bordered by beautiful beaches where you can lounge with a rabbit or a dozen.
If you’re curious about the history of the island, there are tours that bring you to the derelict poison gas facilities, military ruins, and the poison gas museum.
Good thing for the bunny population – it’s the perfect counterbalance to the island’s dark history. After visiting the museum, feel free to comfort yourself with cuddles from the critters. Getting smothered by loveable rabbits is now on the top of my bucket list!