Ōkunoshima (大久野島?) is a small island located in the Inland Sea of Japan in the city of Takehara, Hiroshima Prefecture. It is accessible by ferry from Tadanoumi and Ōmishima. There are campsites, walking trails and places of historical interest on the island. It is often called Usagi Jima (ウサギ島?, "Rabbit Island") because of the numerous feral rabbits that roam the island; they are rather tame and will approach humans.
The island was a cultivated area until the Russo-Japanese War when ten forts were built to protect it. Three fishing families lived on the island.
In 1925 the Imperial Japanese Army Institute of Science and Technology initiated a secret program to develop chemical weapons, based on extensive research that showed that chemical weapons were being produced throughout the United States and Europe. Japan was a signatory on the 1925 Geneva Protocol which banned the use of chemical warfare. Although the development and storage of chemical weapons were not banned, the country went to great lengths to assure the secrecy of construction of the chemical munitions plant begun in 1929, even going so far as to remove records of the island from some maps. The plant was built over the period of 1927 to 1929, and was home to a chemical weapon facility that produced over six kilotons of mustard gas and tear gas.
View of the island from Kurotaki-yama
The island was chosen for its isolation, conducive to security, and because it was far enough from Tokyo and other areas in case of disaster. Under the jurisdiction of the Japanese military, the local fish preservation processor was converted into a toxic gas reactor. Residents and potential employees were not told what the plant was manufacturing and everything was kept secret; working conditions were harsh and many suffered from toxic-exposure related illnesses.
With the end of the war, documents concerning the plant were burned and Allied Occupation Forces disposed of the gas either by dumping, burning, or burying it, and people were told to be silent about the project. Several decades later, victims from the plant were given government aid for treatment, and in 1988 the Ōkunoshima Poison Gas Museum was opened.
The ruins of the gas manufacturing plant (and the power station pictured here that supplied it), are still standing today.
The island now has a hotel, a six-hole golf course and a small camping ground. Visitors are able to swim in the clean water surrounding the island, regardless of the tide. Many rabbits live on the island. When the island was developed as a park after World War II, these rabbits were intentionally set loose. Many rabbits were used in the chemical munitions plant to test the effectiveness of the chemical weapons during World War II; however, those rabbits were killed when the factory was demolished. According to Murakami, the former director of the poison gas museum, the current rabbits have nothing to do with those that were involved with chemical weapon tests. Hunting these creatures is forbidden and dogs and cats may not be taken onto the island. The ruins of the old forts and the gas factory can be found all over the island; entry is prohibited as it is too dangerous. Since it is part of the Inland Sea National Park system of Japan, there is a resource center and across the way is the museum.
In 2015, the BBC presented a short television series called Pets - Wild at Heart, which features the behaviours of pets, including the rabbits on the island. Showing various tourists coming to feed the rabbits.
The Poison Gas Museum opened in 1988 to educate people about the island's role in WWII
Opened in 1988, the museum "was established in order to alert as many people as possible to the dreadful truths about poison gas."
Only two rooms large, the small building provides a basic overview of the construction of the plant, working conditions and the effects of poison gas on humans. Families of workers who suffered the aftereffects of the harsh working conditions donated numerous artifacts to help tell the story of the workers' plight when handling the gas with poor safety equipment that often leaked.
The second room shows how poison gas affects the human body through the lungs, eyes, skin, and heart. Images of victims from Iraq and Iran add to the message of the museum.
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."
In the museum one can pick up a guide to the numerous remains of the forts from the Second Sino-Japanese War and the poison gas factory. Most of the buildings are run-down and condemned, but recognizable.
The museum is aimed mainly at the Japanese people, but English translations are provided on the overall summary for each section.
He legally changed his name in 1986. When asked to explain his name, Nardwuar quips, “Nardwuar the Human Serviette” the name “Nardwuar” is, he says, just “a dumb, stupid name like Sting or Sinbad;” “Human” came from a Cramps song called “Human Fly”; and “Serviette” came from the fact that “in the U.S.A. they don’t have serviettes, they have napkins”.
Nardwuar was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in 1968. His mother, Olga Ruskin, was a local journalist, high school history teacher and historian. She published a history of Vancouver historical figure "Gassy Jack" John Deighton. His mother exposed her son to local history by bringing him to historical society meetups. Nardwuar won a public speaking competition while in elementary school, where he was also a long-distance runner.
Nardwuar attended Hillside Secondary School in West Vancouver, where he was a member of the student council. It was through the student council that he began booking bands for school events, and conducted his first interview, with Art Bergmann of Poisoned. He was accepted into theUniversity of British Columbia (UBC) in 1986, the same year he changed his name to Nardwuar. He began volunteering at the campus radio station, CITR. While studying history at UBC, Nardwuar wrote papers on Vancouver's Lions Gate Bridge and the assassination of John F. Kennedy. He graduated in 1990.
Nardwuar got his start in media at the University of British Columbia radio station CITR 101.9 FM in Vancouver. His show has been running every Friday afternoon (3:30-5:00 p.m. Pacific) since October 1987. The program features a mix of eclectic music, along with interviews and commentary.
He also sometimes appears as a guest host and interviewer on CBC Radio 3 and started his own weekly program on freeform radio station WFMUin 2009.
Nardwuar's interviews are frequently shown on MuchMusic's Going Coastal, or printed in Chart. Although Nardwuar's favourite targets are music artists, he has stated that he will interview any celebrity.
His interview style can be grating and confusing to those who have had no prior experience with him. A typical interview will begin with "Who are you?", followed by "From?" if the subject doesn't volunteer his or her affiliations. The interview will always end with "Keep on rockin' in the free world", and the "doot doola doot doo..." of "Shave and a Haircut", to which the interviewee is expected to reply with the final "doot doo!" before Nardwuar freezes with a wide smile until the camera cuts off.
Nardwuar's unorthodox approach often ends up in bizarre scenarios. Some of his subjects recognize Nardwuar's eccentric style and successfully manage to reverse the scenario on him, especially Iggy Pop, David Cross, Mudhoney, "Weird Al" Yankovic and Lil B. Some interpret his hijinks as intentionally disrespectful, including Nas and pornographer Al Goldstein. Henry Rollins found Nardwuar to be disingenuous, saying "I like the character that you're playing. I like that you can turn it on and off. That's cute." Nardwuar made several attempts at contacting Courtney Love, first in 1991 over the telephone, talking about Danelectro guitars and asking her about her P.O. box before she ended the conversation. He later was able to get full interviews out of her after sneaking backstage into a dressing room at a 1993 Hole show in Vancouver, B.C., and again in November 1994 backstage at the Commodore Ballroom. Love was also present during Nardwuar's interview with Nirvana in January 1994 at the backstage of the Vancouver Forum.
More often the experience confuses the celebrities. Members of GWAR tried not to laugh while in character. Jello Biafra was impressed with his guerrilla interview style, but became noticeably angered in a 2000 interview when Nardwuar began to cajole Biafra about Biafra's lawsuit against former Dead Kennedys band mates.
Nardwuar does extensive research on the interviewee to confuse, scare or impress them; often bringing up minutia about band members' pasts that they have a hard time recalling, until he coaches them along. Frequently, he will also attempt to make connections, no matter how obscure, between the person or subject at question and Canada. A tribute to his research skills, while interviewing Josh Homme, he produced a grade school class photo of Homme mid-interview, who remained blasé yet clearly impressed. In 'Nardwuar Vs Skrillex', he produced the first CD Skrillexwas ever featured on as Sonny Moore, Skrillex's then questioned his manager and then-girlfriend, Ellie Goulding, during the interview who revealed they did not know that era of Skrillex's past. During an interview with Pharrell Williams from N.E.R.D., Nardwuar pulled out a vinyl record featuring the very first recorded track by Pharrell, causing him to pause and state "This is one of the most impressive interviews I've ever experienced in my life. Seriously." During a 2010 interview with rapper Drake and his producer 40, Drake described Nardwuar's interview as the "best that I've ever done in my entire life". Similarly, following an interview with Nardwuar on October 4, 2012 before his show at The Queen Elizabeth Theater in Vancouver, BC, Canada, Ed Sheeran walked back into his dressing room and told the next interviewers that he had just had "the best interview in my life".
Nardwuar has also been known to be a "guerrillajournalist," often sneaking in to press conferences under the guise of a more normal reporter, to confront political leaders or other non-musical celebrities with surreal questions. He has asked Mikhail Gorbachev which world leader had the biggest pants, and Crispin Glover whether he owns a coffin full of tar. On another occasion, Nardwuar persistently asked faith healerErnest Angley if there was a cure for "the Summertime Blues", to which Angley angrily replied, "Oh I wish you would shut up, man. You know you're not even funny. You're lucky God don't strike you dead."
In November 1997, he cut off all his hair and was able to sneak into an APEC conference to ask Jean Chrétien if he supported the pepper spraying of protesters outside. Chrétien responded with a line that has become well known in Canada: "For me, pepper, I put it on my plate."
In June 2004, Nardwuar convinced an amused Paul Martin, former Prime Minister of Canada, to play a quick game of the Hasbro game "Hip Flip" while he was on the campaign trail. After Martin won the election, Nardwuar commented on the great predictive power of the "Hip Flip," because neither of the other two candidates had performed the act. On a campaign trip to Vancouver in December 2005, Nardwuar concluded an interview with the late New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton—who, in their first encounter, had taken the instructions to the game and said he would practice for their next encounter—with a successful, coordinated, swinging of their hips. Current Canadian Prime MinisterStephen Harper is the only major candidate from the 2004 election who has never performed a successful "Hip Flip" with Nardwuar.
In January 2013, Brother Ali released a song called "Nardwuar", to commemorate his interview with Nardwuar; the song features a beat taken from one of the records which Nardwuar gave Ali as a gift.
The music video for the Korn song "Twisted Transistor" is a mockumentary which includes a (fictional) documentary filmmaker named "Rob Piner", whose behavior and appearance are based on Nardwuar.