The island is a lot more popular now so while there are lots of rabbits, there are also lots of people feeding them so they’re more “scattered” around the island and don’t congregate or swarm like in the video. But still lots of fluffy rabbits everywhere!
Though getting to the island is a bit of a problem.
Here is the route:
JR Hiroshima Station 広島 -> JR Mihara Station 三原 (Track 5, San-yo Line 山陽線)
JR Mihara Station 三原 -> JR Tadanoumi 忠海
JR Tadanoumi 忠海 -> (by ferry) Okunoshima 大久野島
The trip should take just about 2 hours or less, but on the day we went, 30 April, this was how long it took:
Start at Hiroshima Station
10:52am take train bound to Shiraichi
11:38am arrive at Shiraichi
12:05pm change to train bound for Mihara
12:33pm arrive at Mihara
12:52pm change to train bound for Tadanoumi
1:13pm arrive at Tadanoumi
2:30pm take the ferry to Okunoshima
Total travel time (including transfers & waiting time):
Because the direct trains to Mihara are infrequent, we had to transfer. The trains from Mihara to Tadanoumi (and vice versa) are also very infrequent, schedule pictured below, so plan wisely!!
In total it cost us 1320yen (train fare) + 310yen (ferry fare) = 1630yen one way.
Please also take note of the ferry times to prevent long waiting periods or getting stuck somewhere. We missed the 1:30pm one by less than 5 minutes because we didn’t know there was one.
There is also NO FOOD in the vicinity except for a Family Mart (conbini) and a small store selling simple fare like udon and ramen next to the ferry ticket counter. Either pack lunch, eat on the island’s hotel, or settle for the no frills offerings. Which was not bad, really.
You may also buy rabbit food at 100yen per packet of dry pellets while waiting for the ferry, or buy yourself some ice cream to enjoy too! We only later found out on the way home that the Family Mart sells cabbages and carrots you can feed to the rabbits! The hotel no longer sells rabbit food, so get some in advance if you want to feed them.
We were a tad disappointed it wasn’t as “overflowing” with rabbits as some videos have made it seem but it was still very fun to feed them or walk the circumference of the island and encountering rabbits living in or near the ruins.
Wait – ruins!?!?!
Okunoshima has a rather…dark past. The island was used for wartime efforts such as the production/storage of gas. We found the ruins of gas storage areas, the power plant and canons.
The island isn’t that big so you can explore it on foot though some parts are a bit steep (supposedly 8% slopes, according to a map). It was still very manageable, nothing like some of the slopes at Fushimi Inari that we’d experienced, so you’ll be fine. Bicycles are available for rent at the hotel if you’d like!
You can choose to walk around the circumference of the island or weave your way through. What we realised was that you end up stopping really often to play with rabbits or taking detours by following them so it’s easy to walk in circles.
We got a little “lost” in the sense that we’d followed a path and wasn’t sure how long it was and couldn’t afford to take our own sweet time since the sun was going to set soon. Thank goodness for the signs so we knew we were headed in the right direction.
What you absolutely shouldn’t do is almost miss the final ferry off the island like we did. Following the walking trail around the island, we found ourselves at ferry pier 2, where I was convinced we had set foot on the island on and since someone else was waiting around there too that we were at the right place. We made it there at 6:38pm, a good 20minutes or so before the final ferry back at 7pm.
6:50pm came about and still no sign of a ferry. We thought it was late. Denise asked about what the number 2 sign means. “So there is a pier number 1? Are we at the right place?” she pondered. I insisted we were.
6:55pm and STILL no ferry. We started to panic. I hurriedly called the hotel to check.
“No, it sets off from pier 1!”
We started rushing off, and the other girl waiting around started running over with us.
“OH NO CAN WE MAKE IT!!!” I puffed into the phone.
“Mmm, if you rush maybe…how many people are heading over?”
“I’ll call and tell them to wait a bit”
“THANK YOU!!!!!” I cry and then we made a dash for it.
Huff huff huff we ran, and we heared a honk from the boat. Denise dashed ahead in front of us as we spotted the pier. Hurry, hurry, I screamed internally, wishing my legs to go faster. The guy spotted us running as the honk sounded two more times. They opened the gate as we gasp over, grasping for our tickets and apologizing profusely.
But we made it! Phew.
I don’t recommend that as part of your itinerary. It would have been a tad unfortunate to have to spend the night out in the cold with only the rabbits as company. Perhaps that’s why the hotel exists on the island? Hahaha!
Okunoshima was a great way to spend our last day in Hiroshima! We took the Shinkansen back to Osaka that night, tired but really happy. One of Japan’s famous “animal islands” conquered!!
↓ Watch my video on Okunoshima below for footage of the rabbits! ↓