Oukunoshima & Shinkansen
※ This article discusses our trip to Oukunoshima on 13th of March 2017.
I just came back from my Aikido spring training camp. After a relaxing night, we got up early in the morning. Early means we left at 08:10, which is early compared to 10:00 or 11:00 which happened previously. We took a train to Sannomiya, but I did not plan ahead. I only defined the goal: Oukunoshima ( 大久野島 , おおくのしま). The island is famous for its large number of rabbits (approximately 700, as they told in a recording in the ferry). Wikipedia explains the details. I thought it is a cute present for White Day. Martina also got some nut-olive chocolate from Shodoushima. She didn’t know about it until about noon when I told her in the train.
We followed the greedy approach to arrive in Oukunoshima. This means we took, whatever train was currently available, to bring us closer to our destination. Nishi-Akashi (waiting time 09:15-09:20), Okayama (11:38-11:47), Fukuyama (12:46-12:50), Itozaki (13:19-13:23), Mihara (13:26-14:07) and Tadanoumi (14:33-14:50) were our intermediate stops. Leave the train station and a description in front of you, leads you to the nearby harbor. A ferry takes you to Oukunoshima (about 15 minutes transportation time).
The trip started at 08:10 at our residence in Port Island, Kobe, and we put our foot onto Oukunoshima at 15:12. So we spent 7 hours switching trains and going from Kobe to the designated place. Maybe we didn’t pick the fastest trains, but we also wanted to reduce the expenses by picking local trains. We spent about 4500 Yen (~37€) to go from Kobe to Oukunoshima. The most expensive journey, we ever did.
At the island, bunnies can be found very easily. The bunnies are curious and approach humans to beg for food. They won’t let you pet it (they run away in that case) though. We brought carrots, we sliced on our own. You also buy rabbit food in Tadanoumi in designated places (morning, weekday) or コンビ 二 (Konbini, 24/7).
Shodoshima was a cute experience. If you have some rustling packaging, you can attract a lot of bunnies and they will beg you for food. One of the famous videos is by Просто Mark on Youtube. But this also depends on the time of the day. In our case, we attracted 3-4 rabbits at a time and it was cute how they grab the food from your fingers. One common trick is to spread the food on your lying body and they will jump onto you to retrieve it. This way, you will be covered by rabbits. We did not do this.
We went along the beach and planned to return at 17:45. Many tourists visit the Poison Gas Museum, but we were not interested. We enjoyed the beach and rabbits only. We explicitly missed the ferry at 17:15, but then hurried to arrive at the port at 17:45. But we apparently got wrong, what the sign pointed out: Do not mix up the ports! We went to the wrong port and saw the ferry departuring at the other port at that time. So we missed the ferry and were afraid it is the last ferry. Actually, it is the last ferry during winter, but now the last ferry departures at 19:45.
So we had to wait another 1.5 hours. At that time, it was still bright and we discovered the inner parts of the island. We saw many constructions of the gas poison production, but soon it turned completely dark. It also turned cold, but our clothes were warm enough. So we waited the last 25 minutes at the port, because it was one of the few lit places. The ferry takes only 12 minutes back to Tadanoumi.
We decided that 5 hours back to Kobe would mean infrequent trains and after 00:00, no trains would take us back from Sannoymia to Port Island (for example). We need a fast approach. We went to the Shinkansen station to buy a Shinkansen ticket. It costs 4110 Yen (34 EUR) per person and we also bought reservation; another 3860 Yen (32 EUR). Shinkansen is called the Japanese bullet train. It is fast and convenient, but expensive. Families use it for holidays (to go to a different place very fast) and business men use it to go to different places quickly.
So how was the Shinkansen experience? Plenty of space for my legs and pretty quiet. During the night, it was not worth recording a video of the outside. We had to change the bullet train in Fukuyama. Our wagon in the first train was completely empty. In the second train, half of the seats were taken. In Shinkansen, people without reservation are allocated to special wagons.
And by the way: What is a rabbit called in Japanese? 兎 (うさぎ、usagi)!