Okunoshima is a small island in the Seto Inland Sea, 13 minutes by ferry from Omishima Island. Okunoshima is known for its rabbits, its poison gas museum, and its ruined gun emplacements. The island makes a good day-trip, and is an attractive destination for photographers.
Okunoshima is often called Usagijima (“Rabbit Island”) because of the hundreds of tame rabbits that live here. As soon as you get off the ferry, you can find them close to the dock. They approach visitors without fear, and if you bring vegetables with you, the rabbits will eat from your hand. The rabbits living on the island are unrelated to testing of the poison gas.
Okunoshima played a role during World War II as the location of a factory for the poison gas that was used in China. Today there’s a small museum with various equipment used for producing the poison gas, and a collection of photographs showing how the gas was made and its effects on people. The ruins of the gas manufacturing plant and the power station that supplied it are still there today. The power station building is a particularly dramatic sight.
Okunoshima is also home to other relics of military history. The mountain in the middle of the island is dotted with sturdily-built gun emplacements from the time of the Russo-Japanese war in the Meiji period. It takes an effort to climb up to them, but it’s worth it. The views from the top of the mountain over the Inland Sea are also spectacular.
The island now has a hotel, a six-hole golf course and a small camping ground. In the summer, you can swim in the clean water around the island. In terms of size, you can walk around the island in about 40 minutes, although a more leisurely pace is recommended to take in the sights and to enjoy the company of the rabbits.
The island is dominated by the massive pylons of the Choshi Powerline Crossing, the tallest powerline in Japan.
Name in Japanese: 大久野島
Address: Okunoshima, Hiroshima