Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Oh, the Places You'll Go: 大久野島 (Ōkunoshima (Rabbit Island))

First and foremost, if you know Japanese and I've gotten the name of the island wrong, I'm sorry (and I blame Google Translate, for the record). 

This island was awesome. If you ever happen to be in Japan, it's kind of a no-brainer whether or not to go.


Last December, we went home for a visit and we stopped in Japan for a week. One of the highlights was Rabbit Island (which was totally, completely awesome). 

Ōkunoshima is an island in Japan that used to have a poison gas factory for China's chemical warfare uses (we're talking late 1920's). Chemical warfare was banned, because, you know, human rights, so while it wasn't illegal to produce and and store chemical weapons the Japanese went through great lengths to hide the existence of the island. They even wiped it from some maps. 

They used to test the effectiveness of the chemicals on rabbits, but when the factory was closed down all the rabbits were killed. Now, the island is overrun with the rabbits that were released when they made the island into a park. (You can read more about Ōkunoshima here.

And the rabbits are everywhere. 

THEY ARE SO CUTE!!!

We arrived at the island by boat and headed towards the hotel where we rented bikes (we bought rabbit food on the mainland). We spent a good chunk of time right outside of the hotel because there's where most of the rabbits were (they were smart enough to figure out that hotel=tourists=food). 


I couldn't get over how many of them there were. There aren't any predators on the island, and you can't bring predators, either. It's an infestation. It's the zombie apocalypse in bunny form. IT'S ADORABLE!!!

Whenever we stopped riding our bikes (may I just point out that it had been a good two years since I had ridden a bike, and I seriously struggled riding in a straight line) there was an immediate attack of the most vicious nature by the dainty, fluffy bunnies and we had no choice but to stay where we were and feed the rabbits that popped out of nowhere. (The horror!) We actually struggled to get moving again because these rabbits were either ridiculously genius or stupid and would sit right in front of the bike wheels. They were either keeping us there on purpose or had a death wish. I'm still trying to decide. 

My version of hiding from the camera.

We rode around a little until we found this random pathway/tunnel and decided to go down it. As you do. 


Graffiti in the tunnel.

On the other side was the power plant that supplied electricity for the poison gas production. It was super creepy. There weren't any rabbits, either, and going from not being able to step for fear of squashing a fluffy cutie to seeing nothing was just a little unnerving. Plus, this building. 



Shattered glass was stuck in the window frames (the frames which weren't tangled in the dead vines halfway down the building, that is), the doors were hanging on by a single hinge and the building's dead, history seeped concrete walls cast an eery shadow on its visitors. 

In other words, it was amazing. 


We stood there and stared at it for a good half an hour, marvelling at this real life haunted house. I've certainly never seen anything like it. There was so much history behind, and I almost felt like if I just stood there for long enough then it would bubble up from underneath my feet and consume me. 

A look at what the plant would have looked like in its day. 

It was a really touching experience and really made me reflect on The Great Wars. So often we hear a certain side to the story and we never really think about the other side, or what happens after. Yes, the Japanese were producing chemical weapons. And now the island is a tribute to that. It's something to help us remember that dark time in our history. The island reminds us that once we figure things out we can have dark reminders, but we can also have something great like an island overrun with bunnies. And they coexist at the same time, peacefully reminding people of the past, present and future. 

We rode back to the hotel in the biting wind and returned our bikes, then raced back to catch the last ferry off the island. (There was a museum, but we managed to miss it somehow.)

In other words, yet another place had claimed part of my soul. 

6 comments:

  1. Batman All The Way23 September 2015 at 10:46

    What a cool story! I've actually been there before as well, and I can honestly say that electrical plant was terrifying. We were riding along the beachside when we turned a corner to go down a tunnel. When we reached the end, it seemed the sky had gotten darker, the wind had picked up and the rabbits had vanished. Instead, in their place was a large building, concealed in hills and dead trees. A building made even more eery when it's story was told - so naturally we turned around quickly after snapping a few pictures and of course making a quick video blog after crashing my bike in an effort to just turn around ;)
    Anyway, cool post and I can't wait for the next one!

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    1. Thanks for your story :) I hope you weren't hurt too badly in your attempt to ride a bike down a straight and smooth path.

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  2. *books flight to bunny island* I NEED TO GO THIS PLACE, LIKE, RIGHT NOW. Oh my goodness, I love bunnies, and I think I would just about die of happiness to stumble across the bunny apocalypse. And that run-down building.... *hugs island* *buys island* Thank you so much for sharing. :)

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    1. Isn't it amazing?!?!? YES YOU NEED TO GO IMMEDIATELY! It was terrribly awesome. And cute. Very, very cute. Thanks for reading!

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  3. Wow, this is so cool! I love how the cuteness of bunnies is juxtaposed with the darkness of the remnants of the island's past, and that's just super cool, y'know? I loved your pictures! I hope I can take a similar adventure someday, too. :D

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    1. I know, right? They're total opposites that seem to get along quite nicely. Thanks! I had a lot of fun. I hope you get to go there too!

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