When my old pal, Honey, learned that I was in Japan, she suggested I get in touch with her cousin, Allyson, who was also travelling through Japan. Our schedules lined up so that we were in Hiroshima at the same time, so we met up at this fountain in front of Hiroshima Station, which seems to be telling God to kiss its shiny metal ass, and we went to Rabbit Island (Okunoshima) together.
It was a hell of a journey, but long journeys are always made better when you have awesome company. Besides, the trek was totally worth it for all of this cuteness.
The only thing that stood out as strange (aside from the fact that there is an island in Japan that is overrun by rabbits) was a sign that we saw early on that pointed in the direction of a poison gas station. According to an article I found online, it turns out that this island was used by the Japanese Imperial army to manufacture tons of poison gas during World War II. This was such a big secret that the island was removed from Japanese maps.
As for the bunnies themselves, the article suggests a couple of theories. One is that the bunnies, which were used as test subjects for the gas during the war, were released after the end of the war. However, a professor from the University of California debunks this theory by stating that all of the rabbits that lived on the island following the war were killed by American soldiers.
Another theory suggests that a handful of rabbits were released by a group of school children, and without any predators to prey on them, they just began to reproduce like, well, rabbits.
Unfortunately, the article points out some negative drawbacks to the popularity of the island. For one thing, the rabbits are not given a very healthy or a consistent diet. All they eat is cabbage and the rabbit food that tourists buy before boarding the ferry. It says that cabbage doesn’t give rabbits the fibre and nutrition they need, which results in them living no more than two years. Hopefully the rabbit food alleviates this problem. The other health issue is that when tourists don’t show up on account of bad weather, the rabbits are left to starve, since there isn’t much vegetation on the island.
Lastly, there is some concern about the growing population of the rabbits, which has surpassed a thousand.
Sucks that there is so much negativity around such a beautiful and magical place. All I know is that I had a blast feeding those little guys with Allyson. Though they’re not big fans of being touched, what with being feral and all. She seemed to have the magic touch, though.
Once we got back to Hiroshima, we went out to Borrachos for some quality Mexican food, because I don’t care which country you’re in, there’s always time for Mexican food.