V: Rabbit

How one island in Japan became only for rabbits.

V: Rabbit
A bunny rabbit. Photo by Gary Bendig / Unsplash

Good morning. Today is quintidi, the 15th of Nivôse, Year CCXXXI. We celebrate le lapin, a tasty little hopper, if you can catch it.

The calendar is going to throw a hare at us later this winter, so let's go ahead and do the differences dance. Hares are generally bigger, with longer legs and longer ears. Hares are born with fur and ready to hop, while baby bunnies are hairless and blind. Hares are loners, Dottie, rebels. Rabbits, meanwhile, tend to live in large family groups in warrens. Bugs Bunny is a hare. So, confusingly, is Winnie-the-Pooh's Rabbit. But the Velveteen Rabbit is a rabbit. So are the bunnies in Watership Down. I'm still thinking about Donnie Darko. That's a tough one to classify.

If Japan is a sock, the island of Okunoshima is located near the hole in its toe. Once a simple farming village a short rowboat ride from the big island of Honshu, Okunoshima was fortified during the Russo-Japanese war in CXII (1904).

Today, it goes by another name: Usagi Jima, or Rabbit Island. No people live there, and there are no dogs or cats or apex predators of any kind. Instead, thousands of rabbits have taken over the island to hop about in peace. What happened? Did the rabbits become sentient and attack in a Planet of the Bunnies situation? Were people so grossed out by all the rabbit droppings that they moved away?

Unfortunately, the story is darker than that.

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