Japan has many places where wild animals run free. From the deer wandering around Nara and Miyajima, to the remote cat island Tashirojima, there is something for everyone.
During my time off, I went to Hiroshima with my friends, making a stop by at Rabbit Island, called Okunoshima in Japanese.
How to get there:
The island is almost 2 hours by train from Hiroshima station.
Leaving at around midday, we took the JR Sanyo line to Mihara, then the JR Kure line to Tadanoumi station. You can use the JR pass for this. My group used the Seishun 18 Kippu (only available during certain seasons) to get there from Hiroshima.
From Tadanoumi station, it is a short walk to the port and then a 15 minute ferry ride.
Note: It is quite difficult to find food on the island so I recommend you bring lunch and snacks with you! Rabbit food is sold at Tadanoumi port, or you can bring other snacks for the rabbits like cabbage and carrots.
After arriving at the Okunoshima (Rabbit Island), there was a free shuttle bus that took us to the hotel. You can rent bicycles here to explore the island, but we chose to walk around so we could stop to feed the rabbits.
The hotel also has a restaurant (open for lunch) and some souvenirs.
It was a very hot day (over 30 degrees C) when we went so a lot of the rabbits were curled up in the shade. They came out when we gave them food though!
Although you might expect wild rabbits to be shy, they seem to be quite used to getting fed by humans and will run up to you if they think you have food.
Some people have tried to estimate the number of rabbits on the island, but I think it might be impossible as the number is constantly changing! They seem to be hopping around or taking a nap wherever I looked.
You can feed the rabbits by holding it out in your hand or by putting it straight on the ground. If feeding by hand, be careful of being bitten as the rabbits’ teeth can be quite sharp.
We stopped to have a rest at one of the picnic tables. Before we knew it, a couple of the rabbits had hopped onto the top of the table and had broken into a bag of rabbit feed!
We couldn’t resist their cuteness so we had to let them eat.
Although you are not allowed to pick them up, if you’re lucky (and have food) one might climb onto your lap.
I named this floppy-eared bunny Flopsy (after the Peter Rabbit character).
This poor bunny had overgrown lower teeth. He seemed to have trouble eating! I just wanted to take him home and have them treated, but of course it was not allowed.
Although it is not the main attraction, there is also a beach on the island! As it was a hot day, we took our shoes off to cool our feet down in the water. By this time it was late afternoon, so most of the crowds had left.
Before you head home, I highly recommend you check the ferry timetables and which pier it leaves from (I think there are 3). We planned to leave at 5:45pm, but we were waiting at the wrong pier so we had to take the last ferry for the day at 7pm.
The island was a really enjoyable day trip from Hiroshima! I would recommend it to any animal lover. I’m a cat person myself, but I might have been (partially) converted after feeding and playing with the cute rabbits for the afternoon.