31st July 2019: Journey to the East (2): To the bunnies! {Japan, summer 2019}

I caught the train early in the morning to get to Fukuyama [福山] (Hiroshima Prefecture), barely 15 minutes away from Okayama by train. I wanted to see the local castle, Fukuyama-jo [福山城], which I had not been able to see the last time I had been around because I was a bubblehead and missed the train that gave me leeway to stop (and it was a Monday and closed). Thus, this time I factored it in.

After visiting the castle I found the complex found by Abe Jinja [阿部神社] and Bingo Gokoku Jinja [備後護国神社].

And then Sanzoinari Jinja [三蔵稲荷神社].

These three shrines were located within the same park as the Castle, but my map also pointed out that Fukuyama Hachimangu [福山八幡宮] was not that far away, so I went to find it too.

On my way back I diverted because a building had drawn my attention and I wanted to find out what it was – it turned out to be, and I quote the “Holy Zion’s Park St. Valentine” [ホーリーザイオンズパークセントヴァレンタイン]. It was a wedding venue. Live and learn.

As I had some time before the train I wanted to take, I also checked the Fukujyukaikan [福寿会館], which turned out to be a ‘traditional house with a teahouse’, so I did not come in.

After that, I took another train to Mihara where I took the Kure line towards Takehara. However, I stopped halfway, in a small station called Tadanoumi [忠海]. What is there in Tadanoumi? The ferry to Okunoshima.

And what the hell is there in Okunoshima? Bunnies. Hundreds of tame rabbits which you can feed and which will climb on you to demand your food, or climb into your backpack of bag or whatever you’re carrying.

So yes, I went to Okunoshima [大久野島]. I could lie to you and tell you that I was there because of the island (horrific) history, and places like the Poison Gas Museum Ōkunoshima Dokugasu Shiryōkan [大久野島 毒ガス資料館].

Or the magically decaying Okunishima Jinja [大久野島神社].

Or the beautiful scenery.

But bluntly put I was there for the rabbits and bunnies and bunbuns and the fluff and the floppy ears and the straight ears too. Okunoshima is also known as Rabbit Island. After it was abandoned after WWII, apparently a bunch of students released some domestic rabbits and they have colonised the whole island. Now you can go and feed them, although you are encouraged not to grab them or ‘put your fingers near their mouths’. For three hours I pranced around finding bunnies and feeding bunnies.

Then I took the ferry back to Tadanaoumi as the sun started to set.

I continued on the Kure Line to Takehara [竹原市], the city / town Tadanoumi actually belongs to (and I was super lucky because there were disturbances and delays for hours starting the following train). Honestly it was just the nearest hotel I had found – I mean, when I went out the only thing I found to grab a bite to eat was a McDonald’s… and they made my fries to order. I also found out about the town’s unofficial mascot, a character called Momonekosama [ももねこ様], from an anime that is set in Takehara

I had saved up the following day as “buffer day”. I did not know whether to try and get to Kure, or directly back to Nagoya, I thought it would just depend on how tired I was… But the hotel had a little map about how Takehara’s historical district was “Little Kyoto”… I thought maybe that was worth checking out.

Walked distance: 19058 steps, 13.6 km