Earlier this year, we brought you news of Providenciales, the Caribbean island where you can play with rescue puppies all day.
And now, we’re pleased to introduce you to another distant and totally adorable land: Okunoshima, a beautiful island on southern Japan’s Inland Sea that’s become famous for its colony of rabbits.
Okunoshima’s bunnies are wild but friendly, and will often hop up to visitors to the island in search of snacks and attention. (We can relate.)
Nobody knows exactly why there are so many bunnies on Okunoshima. One theory is that the rabbits currently on the island are descended from animals used in experiments in the first half of the 20th century. From 1920 to 1945, the Japanese army secretly produced 6,000 tonnes of poison gas on Okunoshima – gas which was then tested on imported rabbits.
It sounds like a bit of a dark origin story, but fear not. If Instagram's anything to go by, the present-day bunnies are healthy, happy and thriving:
Today we spend an amazing day at Okunoshima. The travel was magical, specially the train between Mihara and Tadanoumi which remains us of Ghibli movies. The island has lots of bunnies and a very interesting history that reminds us the worst part of war and chemical weapons fabrication. We walked through woods and up to mountains surrounded by remains of history and lots of bunnies! Yes, it's known as the Bunny Island for something ❤️ 🐰❤️ #Okunoshima #BunnyIsland #Bunny #Japan #HiddenJapan #me #tealhairdontcare #rabbit #大久野島 #うさぎ #兔 #兎 #🐰
A photo posted by Laia PG (@_nkawai_) on
A photo posted by ola k (@nickeecoco) on
The director of the Poison Gas Museum (sounds thrilling, right?) has also said that the bunnies currently hopping around the island are not the great-great-great-grandchildren of the unfortunate test subjects of yesteryear.
Another possible origin story begins with eight rabbits which were apparently brought to Okunoshima in the early 1970s, when a local primary school could no longer afford to look after them. Left to run free, those eight rabbits began doing what they do best: multiplying.
A photo posted by Samantha Stenner (@millyandcodesign) on
Alternatively, it’s been suggested that the fluffy creatures were simply introduced to Okunoshima to increase the island’s cache as a tourist destination. Well, wouldn’t you rather be renowned for bunny rabbits than poison gas?
Image credit: Instagram/@toshi1213_f1