A collection of moments and experiences of travel across Japan by backpack.
Ōkunoshima 大久野島Japan 日本
Today Okunoshima is known as Japan's "rabbit island" and also houses a tranquil vacation resort with tennis courts. However, from the 1920s until Japan's defeat in World War II, this island produced hundreds of thousands of gallons of deadly poison gas.
Rabbits were subjected to experiments with the deadly gas, and many believe these current wild rabbits are the descendants of the released subjects after the Allied occupation took over the island and shut down production in 1945.
The island contains the skeletal remains of what was once a network of infrastructure intended solely to produce these biological weapons. You can still see the concrete pedestals on which the gas tanks were stored, and the shell of the facility's diesel-powered station.
Chemical weapons manufacturing and testing buildings are now slowly being reclaimed by the island's forests. Fresh green moss and abundant vines scale the concrete and steel, burying the memories of the island's cruel history.
The human cost of the death and permanent maiming manufactured here on Okunoshima is immeasurable. Records of the poison gas's targets and deployment were hastily destroyed before the end of World War II, but what little remains points to China.
As stated in the mission of the island's poison gas museum: "We hereby declare that war is meaningless and the production of poison gas is tragic. We make an appeal for everlasting peace."