Just two miles off the coast of the Nagasaki Peninsula in Japan, and a mere nine and a half miles from Nagasaki itself sits a lonely 15 acre island formally named Hashima that was once home to over five thousand people. Now it’s just a ghost town of decaying concrete towers; and a skyline that gives it the nickname of Battleship Island. Welcome to Gunkanjima…
The island’s resemblance to a battleship was even more so reinforced when it was mistaken at the battleship Tosa and torpedoed by the American Navy during World War II.
Founded as a coal mining facility under the ownership of the Mitsubishi Corporation in 1887, Gunkanjima grew to a population of 5,259 by 1959, making it a larger town than many across North America. Upon the advent of petroleum fuelled power; coal became more and more obsolete, as did coal mining towns. In 1974 Mitsubishi officially announced the closing of Hashima. All those that lived on the island returned to the mainland to find work, leaving behind what would one day become one of planet Earth’s crown jewels of urban exploration.
Mitsubishi voluntarily handed over ownership of the island to Nagasaki city in 2002. However; after almost 30 years of neglect the island was completely uninhabitable. A number of the buildings had already collapsed completely by 2002, and the remainder were in an extreme state of decay. As the city of Nagasaki and the Japanese government sought UNESCO modern industrial heritage recognition for the island, they began to reinforce walls in danger of collapse.
Hashima was opened to the press in November of 2009, and the city of Nagasaki began construction on a paved walkway through the island in order to open its borders to the public. Today tours are offered by a number of companies and depart from several locations throughout Nagasaki Port.
MAP OF GUNKANJIMA
To see more amazing images of the island visit Gakuranman’s website.