Monday, July 19, 2010

okunoshima, the poison gas island.

If you know me (or if you've been following this blog), you'd know that I'm a history freak.
Or in short, I'm a geek.


I can watch documentaries about history of a country, or the asassination of the Kennedys, or Adolf Hitler biography, or even The New World Order for hours and not get tired. After that of course I would whine to my friends 'why did they do that?' 'how can the entertainment industry be this cruel?!' and so on so they would also enjoy this passion of mine, that is, if they shared the same interest.(Miss Fareena, I'm talking about you here! Hehehe) Note : friends who don't get history might not get what you're trying to say. Stop annoying them.

So, when I found out about this historic island located not so far from Hiroshima, I decided to go and drag my boyfriend with me. This is where relationships are tested; if the guy loves you enough he'd tag along to do whatever crazy things you want to do.

Thank God he's cool :) Though we were ripped off by 5000 yen! We were supposed to take a train from here to Mihara and from there take a bus straight to the port. But as soon as we reached Mihara Eki we found out that we missed the bus and Kure Line was out of service due to the bad weather so taking a train is out of question.

So we had to take a cab and paid 5000 yen. I swear I thought my boyfriend was going to kill me. Hehe.

But the view of the island worth it :) 

"Okunoshima island played a key role during World War II as a poison gas factory for much of the chemical warfare that was carried out in China. Japan went to great lengths to assure the secrecy of the building of the poison gas plant begun in 1929, even going so far as to remove records of the island from some maps.
The island was chosen for its isolation, conduciveness to security, and because it was far enough from Tokyo and other areas in case of disaster."
- Wikipedia.


Not many people knew the existance of this island because of its history, so when we went there it was quiet and not as packed as Miyajima. Thank God.

The island is so small that you can ride around the entire island by bicycle in around 3 hours, and this island is completely full of rabbits! During World War II, this island manufactured and produced nerve gas so it was tested on rabbits. After the war ended, the workers left the island and let the rabbits out of their cage. You can find rabbits everywhere here; to the point that visitors are not allowed to bring pets to this island.

Here is some of the disturbing facts about this island :
1) The gas was produced by senior-high-school-students as most of the scientists capable of this were under international observation by foreign secret services. The students were unaware of the dangers of their work and many of them died or were seriously injured by dioxine-intoxication.
2) For the gas-tests, rabbits were bought from local markets.

3) To minimize the traffic necessary to run the facility, most of the food was produced on the island itself, which was generally spoken not enough. The leadership knew, that the protection suits (of PVC and leather) was not durable enough against a poison-concentration inside such a factory. Never the less, the suits were replaced only when completely used up to keep the secrecy.

(source : net)

The camping site.
The history
The poison gas plant ruins.
"Jungle trekking" in heels HAHAHA.


We could also sunbath-ing at the beach, it wasn't packed with people and the water isn't as warm. Some of the elders and visitors there are very friendly and helpful. We even made friends with the hotel bus driver there hehehe.

It was a very enjoyable experience for me, and I think more people should come and visit this place. As much as Hiroshima is remembered for the World Peace since the atomic bomb during World War II, I think people should also realize that Japan is also responsible for making chemical weapons used in war.

As expressed by the curator Murakami Hatsuichi to The New York Times, “My hope is that people will see the museum in Hiroshima City and also this one, so they will learn that we [Japanese] were both victims and aggressors in the war. I hope people will realize both facets and recognize the importance of peace."

It's a great place to chill and enjoy the nature besides an unforgettable history, adorable rabbits, and a quiet place with a beach :) 

2 comments:

  1. I found this post randomly while digging for info on this place. Thanks for sharing. I really want to check this place out as soon as the weather isn't completely miserable.

    ReplyDelete
  2. glad this helps :) yea considering how hot it is now here in japan maybe you should put off the trip till the weather is tolerable.

    have a nice trip! :)

    ReplyDelete

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