For a number of years following World War II, you wouldn’t be able to find the small island of Okunoshima on a map of Japan. During the war, the island housed a factory that made five different types of poison gas, but it was abandoned after Japan’s defeat.

After the factory was shuttered, the island lay dormant — mostly. One particular type of inhabitant stayed to test the lingering effects of the gases…with adorable results!

During World War II, the small island of Okunoshima housed a factory that produced five types of poison gas, including the six kilotons of mustard gas that the Japanese used against the Chinese.

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After Japan’s defeat by the Allied forces, the island was abandoned. However, to test the lingering effects of the gas, the Japanese government left one particular kind of inhabitant…

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Rabbits! The government brought in a small group of rabbits as test subjects, but in the intervening years, their population exploded, and Okunoshima is now known as “Rabbit Island.”

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With no natural predators on the island, the rabbits soon became Okunoshima’s dominant species and now number in the hundreds!

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Rabbit Island has become a tourist attraction in recent years, with visitors from around the world coming to visit the gas factory museum and to feed and interact with the tame, friendly rabbits.

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The adorable little critters are quite amicable and are always willing to cuddle up to visitors — especially if they suspect they’ll get a treat out of it!

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A conservative estimate puts Okunoshima’s rabbit population at around 300, although it may well be higher because the combination of the rabbits’ relatively short lifespan and prolific breeding makes pinpointing the exact number very difficult.

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The Japanese government wants to preserve the rabbit population, so it’s quite strict in prohibiting the island’s guests from bringing along dogs, cats, or any other potential predators during their stay.

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In the last few years, tourism to Okunoshima has skyrocketed, and the island’s rabbit population has stayed stable, which is a good sign. It seems like Rabbit Island’s unique history and inhabitants will continue to draw visitors from around the world for some time!

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Look at all those fluff balls! If I ever make it to Japan, I’m definitely going to make time to visit to Okunoshima.

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