Were it not for the strict access regulations, this island could have been an urban explorer’s dream. It is located 15km off the coast of Nagasaki. Its official name is Hashima Island, but it is universally called Gunkanjima, Battleship Island, for its warship-like shape. Since it was opened to tourism in 2009, the abandoned island is easily accessible by guided tours from Nagasaki port.
Collapse at Any Time
The story of the island is linked to an underwater coal mine that was exploited from there in the pre-oil days. At its peak, Gunkanjima 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 the island emptied of its inhabitants.
As a tourist, you are restricted to no more than a few hundred meters of fenced-in walkways. A full reopening is 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.
Inside the Buildings
Google’s street view technology provides extensive coverage of the site. It offers a peek inside the buildings, revealing remnants of the island’s former inhabitants. Think of discarded soda bottles or yesterday’s CRT television sets.