Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hashima Island: Japan's Ghost Island

Someone sent me some lyrics to a song about an interesting island in Japan. At first, I dismissed it as not so interesting, but after about 10 minutes of snooping around, I thought it was pretty damn amazing!

Hashima Island; commonly called Gunkanjima (軍艦島; meaning "Battleship Island") is one among 505 uninhabited islands in the Nagasaki Prefecture about 15 kilometers from Nagasaki itself. The island was populated from 1887 to 1974 as a coal mining facility. The island's most notable features are the abandoned concrete buildings and the sea wall surrounding it. It has been administered as part of Nagasaki, Nagasaki since 2005.

"Battleship Island" is an English translation of the Japanese nickname for Hashima Island, Gunkanjima (gunkan meaning "battleship", jima being the rendaku form of shima, meaning "island"). The island's nickname came from its apparent resemblance to the Japanese battleship Tosa due to its high seawalls. It also is known as the Ghost Island. It is known for its coal mines and their operation during the industrialization of Japan. Mitsubishi bought the island in 1890 and began the project, the aim of which was retrieving coal from the bottom of the sea. They built Japan's first large concrete building, a block of apartments in 1916 to accommodate their burgeoning ranks of workers (many of whom were forcibly recruited labourers from other parts of Asia), and to protect against typhoon destruction. Wikipedia...

In 1959, its population density was 835 people per hectare (83,500 people/km2) for the whole island, or 1,391 per hectare (139,100 people/km2) for the residential district, the highest population density ever recorded worldwide. As petroleum replaced coal in Japan in the 1960s, coal mines began shutting down all over the country, and Hashima's mines were no exception. Mitsubishi officially announced the closing of the mine in 1974, and today it is empty and bare, which is why it's called the Ghost Island. Travel to Hashima was re-opened on April 22, 2009 after more than 20 years of closure.

An eerie site for sure. This place would be a virtual wonderland for urban explorers!

A short blurb from the History Channel about the island:

An arial view of the island on video:

part of a documentary about the island:

I have to admit that i would love to travel to this island someday. it seems like an incredibly fascinating place to go.

Visiting the Island Today!

The island is increasingly gaining international attention not only as one of the modern international heritages in the region, but also as the housing complex remnants in the years from Taisho Era to Showa Era. Moreover, the island has become the frequent subject of a discussion among enthusiasts for ruins.
Since the abandoned island has not been maintained, several buildings have already collapsed. Other existing buildings are subject to breakage. In this regard, however, certain collapsed exterior walls have been restored with concrete. While the island was owned by Mitsubishi Material up until 2002, it was voluntarily transferred to Takashima town. Currently, Nagasaki City possesses the island. A small portion of the island was re-opened for tourism on April 22nd, 2009. A full reopening of the island would require an enormous amount of money to make the premises safe, due to the aging of the buildings. Wikipedia...