Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Okunoshima Post - Part 3

If I had paid more attention to what people said about Okunoshima (apart from "Rabbits!! - look at the rabbits!"), I would have realised before I got there that it is in a very scenic area, at the edge of the group of islands in what's called the Seto Inland Sea.  You'll start noticing how pretty the area is on the train (or bus) trip from Mihara to Tadanoumi, as it follows the coast line with lots of water and island views.  You can see this very large looking island spanning bridge in the distance, too:

[I see now that it is the Tatara Bridge, with towers 220 m high (!)]

So, I was pleasantly surprised by scenery such as this (all photos taken from the island):

It was foggy the next morning (in fact, it delayed the first ferry), but it made for a nice photo or two:

I think this is an old timer, enjoying the view too:

I read now that the larger islands in this area, being connected via bridges, are popular for cycling tourists.  Have a look at the photos from the bike path at this CNN Travel site.  I think this definitely looks like an enticing part of Japan to explore in more detail.

As for the hotel, here's a panorama pic of it on the foggy morning (if you click and enlarge it, you can try to count the rabbits, too):

The facilities are fine but certainly not top class.  In particular, the grounds had a "we're not ready for holiday season yet" feel, even though it was the start of July.  There is a pool, for example, which was closed and an odd shade of green; and although there are several tennis courts around the back, most looked shabby.   The grounds in front of the hotel are obviously a challenge to keep neat when there is strong competition for grass from 700 or so rabbits every day, but it didn't look like there was much attempt to tidy them up, either.

On the other hand, one of the cheaper ways to stay on the island is to camp on the quite tidy looking nearby camping ground with sea views, but still take your meals in the hotel.  The tent can either be your own, or even one supplied (and, I think, according to one internet account) erected for you by the resort staff.   I didn't see the amenities block, though. 

Not that it worries me, but I think nearly all rooms are Japanese style, which means sleeping on futons and a toilet in the room but no shower or bath, so it's off to the communal onsen style baths to get clean of an evening.

Did I mention before that the food in the buffet dining room is really pretty good?  Octopus is the local speciality, so expect it to turn up in various forms.

As for the other island's attractions:

* the small poison gas museum is worth seeing:  it takes the same "let this never happen again" polemic style of Hiroshima atomic bomb museum, not that there's anything wrong with that, of course.  Still, you'll only need about 20 minutes or so to read all of the english information available;

* the ruins around the island.  There are various bits of decaying infrastructure from the old poison gas days. 

They're a good reason to go on a bike ride. Put me in mind of the island being a suitable hideout for a small scale Bond villain.   It might be hard to keep up the evil aura while being followed by rabbits, however.

*  the nature education centre:  looks pretty new and is neat, but not much info in English.

But at the end of the day, it's hard to resist just wanting to be with the inhabitants:

A final note:  if the hotel sells rabbit food, I never saw a sign for it.  But I think the cafe might sell pellets?  In any event, they don't sell veges for rabbits, so buy some on the mainland before you get there, as per my previous post.

It seemed it was not only tourists who are besotted with the furry inhabitants (whose natural enemies, by the way, appear to be limited to crows.  My son and daughter, while bike riding, saw a crow threatening a baby  bunny, who escaped under a bush.)  There was an elderly Japanese (I think) couple who came over to the island with a huge bag and box of leafy vegetables.  I saw him perching them on a bicycle and heading off around the island to distribute his bounty.  I could happily imagine a retirement doing that, too..

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