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  • We're in Okunoshima, an island where rabbits outnumber the people.

  • It's known as the Rabbit Island of Japan.

  • But if we take a closer look at Okunoshima, we'll see there's more to it than just the rabbits.

  • Over 80,000 people were intentionally exposed.

  • I think it's probably the most creepy structure on the island.

  • A storage facility for poison gas.

  • Long-term exposure to the gasses produced...

  • Remnants of death all around and I'm standing here feeding a bunny. It's so eerie and ironic.

  • It captures the essence of the island.

  • The way to get here is, you have to get to the JR station, Tadanoumi Station and just nearby is Tadanoumi Port.

  • The ferries come and go about every hour, starting from about 7 in the morning to about 7 in the evening.

  • If you want to stay for the night, you have the option of going to a campfield but the hotel is clearly a better deal here.

  • Okunoshima has no actual population. The only people here that seem to be here more long-term are the ones working in the hotel.

  • But you won't find any houses on the island.

  • As far as cars go, there's a bus that gets you to and from the port.

  • And just a few maintenance cars for going around the island and fixing things, delivering things and getting water to the rabbits and so on.

  • Seems like most people actually bring their own cabbage and carrots.

  • I've seen someone even with celery was it? 'Pietruszka.'

  • So there are 300 rabbits on the island.

  • Which is not that many considering that the island is about 4km in circumference. From being here I think there are many many more because...aww this one's so cute...basically anywhere you go on the island they're there.

  • Even when you're on top of the, what you might call it, mountain or hill, quite a remote dense forest, rabbits still run out at you.

  • Why are there rabbits here?

  • So...so far I heard three theories.

  • One, that a bunch of elementary school kids just released rabbits here a long time ago, and they procreated.

  • Another theory is that one man just left two rabbits here.

  • And these are all their offspring basically, well descendants and so on.

  • And the last theory I heard is that they are actually test rabbits for the gases.

  • I dunno if I believe that one, what do you think?

  • I think that one is true but these are not these rabbits.

  • Yeah?

  • Yeah, I heard a mix of these stories, that there were test rabbits here but they died I guess.

  • It could be I guess a mix of all the theories.

  • Because there are a lot of rabbits.

  • You can't bring any other animals on the island in order to protect the rabbits.

  • So no dogs, no cats, if you're vacationing, you cannot bring your pets here.

  • There's an interesting juxtaposition to this island because along with the cuteness of the bunnies, all around the island you have remnants of an old poison gas production facility

  • That was constructed in the 1920s and was operating for 16 years until the end of World War II.

  • So there we have it, old ruined storage facility for poison gas right next to cute bunnies.

  • This is the storage facility for the poison gas that was produced here over the course of 16 years this place was operating.

  • They produced over 6,000 tons of various kinds of poison gas including blistering agents.

  • The chemical weapons produced on this island were used on over 2,000 occasions and all of this was used mostly in China.

  • Over 80,000 people were intentionally exposed to these weapons.

  • The first two chambers of this structure are filled with these origami peace swans which you can see here.

  • The peace swans were made by a bunch of kids, classmates of girl that was suffering from leukemia due to the atomic bomb. You can see them here as well.

  • Usagi no mizu, bunnies water, just in case it wasn't clear who is supposed to be drinking water out of there.

  • Here they go.

  • Behind me is one of the tallest electricity towers in Japan that carries electricity across these islands because there are a lot of small islands in this area, and across the bay there are electricity lines.

  • How do you like the electricity tower? Umm, it's my third favorite attraction on the island.

  • Ok, the first one would be.... -Bunnies. -Yeah.

  • It's almost evening but it's still like 30 degrees.

  • That's Japanese summer. Humidity.

  • What Kris said about the humidity. Pretty rough.

  • So I'm impressed by the fact this island is still very authentic. It's kind of touristy, but it's not too touristy yet, right?

  • It's gets about 100,000 visitors a year which is not so much compared to, you know, everything else in Japan.

  • So that was the central part of the factory, right? -Yeah, I could use a flashlight right now.

  • It's pretty creepy.

  • So in 1944, when Japan was struggling with the war effort, a lot of the men working at the factory were drafted for the war effort.

  • And to fill their places, a lot of school children were used to work in the factory in their place.

  • Which brings up another unique component of this island. It is said that this island hasn't been fully decontaminated after the war.

  • And there supposedly are still some poison materials buried around.

  • Just 20 years ago, it was still not safe to drink tap water on this island because it contained some chemicals.

  • And this place hasn't been cleaned because for the Japanese it's a very taboo subject.

  • So we're walking down little walkways in a pretty dense forest on the island trying to get down the little mountain.

  • And these rabbits just keep coming out of everywhere, asking us for food so thank God we have our cabbage and carrots here.

  • The nature on the island is beautiful itself. It attracts a lot of families vacationing with their children, couples, because it's a great place to play tennis

  • Apparently you can play some golf, there's a swimming pool and as you can see behind me it's just very beautiful.

  • Breakfast and dinner is included in the hotel stay, umm dinner today, we're gonna be eating rabbit sashimi.

  • Just kidding, it's ketsuo, which is also known as bonito for us.

  • Once you're here I highly recommend staying on the island, because one of the best parts of being here is feeding the rabbits at night.

  • They're not hiding from the sun like they do during the day, so they're just out all over the field. They're so cute.

  • Hey you're kind of greedy, you had a lot of carrot, let someone else have some.

  • These rabbits here, they actually associate the sound of a plastic bag with food.

  • So when you just make the sound with the bag, they keep coming.

  • I'm going to put it here.

  • These guys don't really try to bite it when you give it to them but they try to actually steal it from you.

  • So that is one way to drink shochu in Japan, you can do it while feeding rabbits on an island that is know for producing poison gas during WWII.

  • That's the only hotel on the island. It's a national park resort hotel.

  • It's pretty pricey as hotels go in Japan for it's standard but it has a lot of cool facilities, like they have onsen, they have yukata stuff, traditional Japanese rooms.

  • The food is included in the price. Dinner was awesome, it was what Japanese call Viking which in the west would be Buffet, like all you can eat of sashimi of different sorts.

  • And I like an onsen anytime of the day.

  • What are they doing?

  • Have you seen that? - Yeah, I think they're gonna fuck.

  • That's good for them.

  • Congrats, have some cabbage. - I think these bunnies are getting more action than you are tonight.

  • Everyone's enjoying this party.

  • So this island was chosen as a location for two reasons.

  • One being that they could keep their operation relatively secret from the main island.

  • And second because the island's relative distance from large cities like Tokyo, would minimize the risk of injury to large populations.

  • The victims of the chemical gasses that were produced here are twofold because obviously there are people that were intentionally exposed to them, to the gasses but then there are the workers who were forced to work in very poor conditions.

  • Using basically ineffective protective gear and working shifts as long as 13 hours.

  • So a lot of Japanese people died because of the long-term exposure to the gasses that were produced here.

  • And today on Okunoshima we have this poison gas museum which is supported by the descendants of the people that died and the local government.

  • So, how you feeling?

  • Like a bunny. -Yeah? Yeah.

  • That's what a bunny feels like.

  • Whooooaaaa.

  • I think it's probably the most creepy structure on the island.

  • It's the type of structure that you clearly shouldn't enter.

  • Yes, I don't recommend doing this.

  • A lot of the metal seems to have eroded.

  • So it seems like a lot of it is slowly falling apart.

  • People are assholes.

  • As is the case with most of such locations, the nature is reclaiming it's territory already.

  • This island is like a closed-circuit system for extreme emotions.

  • I'm doing the call, the feeding call.

  • It's like a feeding bell but with a plastic bag.

  • So there you have it, Okunoshima, a bitter sweet piece of island.

  • That's interesting and worth visiting at the moment I'd say because it's not yet as popular as it will probably get.

  • And it's probably one of the more authentic feelings you'll get when it comes to WWII history.

  • It's a great place to visit because you can feel the weight of history while feeding bunnies.

  • That makes it quite unique I'd say.

  • Well thanks for watching guys.

  • If you liked this video, leave us a thumbs up, comment on it, and probably we're gonna be doing some other cool things and cool stuff so subscribe to our channel.

  • And thank you. Bye bye.

We're in Okunoshima, an island where rabbits outnumber the people.

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B1 US island poison feeding produced gas hotel

Island of Bunnies and Poison - Ōkunoshima documentary

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    Elise Chuang posted on 2021/11/04
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