If you're up for a visit to the biggest bunny meet-and-greet on the planet, Okunoshima is the destination for you. It's just like a rabbit cafe, except there are hundreds of friendly bunnies that mob you everywhere you go on this isolated island. From the moment you step off the ferry, rabbits come hopping from all directions as you pause at the visitor center, the shrine, and the grounds of the island's one hotel.
Even rain doesn't deter the resident rabbits from deserting their hidey-holes to get up close and personal, especially if you're carrying a bag of bunny chow. The rabbits come in all shapes and sizes, and are surprisingly happy and healthy-looking for animals that nobody formally cares for.
On Rabbit Island there are no opening and closing hours, no cover charges, and no bans against small children. We saw many kids having a great time feeding the rabbits under the watchful eyes of their parents, although we also saw a few crying when faced with hordes of hungry bunnies, so be forewarned if your child is at all timid or unaccustomed to animals. The bunnies are cute and friendly, but it's good to remember that they are still wild animals and most will not sit still for petting or lap sitting.
The only catch to visiting this rabbit paradise is that getting there is a little harder than dropping by an urban rabbit cafe. Depending on where you're coming from, it may involve riding the Shinkansen, then a local train, then a twelve-minute ferry ride to the island. The hotel on the island is called Kyukamura Okunoshima, or you can look for hotels on the mainland, near the towns of Mihara or Fukuyama, or even take a long day trip from Hiroshima, Osaka or Tokyo.
If you want to be ready for the first wave of bunny love when you land on the island, it's recommended that you buy baggies of rabbit chow at the ferry terminal for Y300 before you get on board. Rabbit chow is also sold at the hotel, and two or three bags is probably enough for an afternoon.
by Animal Cafes travel editor Jonelle Patrick