Battleship Island

Gunkanjima, Hashima Island, Nagasaki, Japan.

If it was not for its strict access regulations, Gunkanjima could have been the perfect urbex dream location. Gunkanjima literally means Battleship Island. It got its nickname because of its warship-like shape left over from its days as an underwater coal mine.

The abandoned island is easily accessible by guided tours from Nagasaki port. As a tourist, however, you are restricted to no more than a few hundred meters of fenced-in walkways built when the island was reopened to tourism in 2009.

Crowded Battleship Island

At its peak, the island was home to more than 5,000 miners, making it the most densely populated place in the world. By the 1970s, its coal reserves were nearly depleted. The mine was closed and Hashima Island, as it is officially called, was emptied of its inhabitants.

A full reopening is rather unlikely, as it would require a substantial investment in restoration and safety. Battleship Island has not been maintained for several decades, leaving its structures vulnerable to collapse at any time. Some areas have already been reinforced with concrete to prevent further damage.

Google’s street view technology provides extensive coverage of the site. It allows you to look inside the buildings, revealing remnants of the island’s former inhabitants, such as yesterday’s CRT televisions or discarded soda bottles. 

Gunkanjima, Hashima Island, Nagasaki, Japan.

Battleship Island Gunkanjima, Nagasaki, Japan.

Battleship Island Gunkanjima from Boat, Nagasaki, Japan.