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The Traveller's Magazine
  •   3 min read

Hashima Island off of Japan’s southern coast has made it to the list of scariest ruins in the world… it’s no wonder after taking a closer look at photos of the island. Would you be brave enough to visit?

Japan’s ghost island: Gunkanjima

The story of Hashima, Japan’s island is really one of mystery and intrigue. Gunkanjima (the island’s other name) was completely uninhabited until a coal deposit was discovered. It was a real gold-mine in the 19th century when energy costs were soaring in Japan. Mitsubishi was the first to grab the island and begin mining which radically changed the place within a couple of years.

Vegetation, battered by high winds, quickly gave up when the warehouses, hangars and buildings to house 5,000+ employees popped up. All of this was crammed on this small island, measuring 480m in length and 160 metres wide. At one point Hashima was the most densely populated area in the world!

Little by little oil began to replace coal in Japan, like the rest of the world, and operations slowed to a stop at the beginning of the 1970s. The miners left the island, which today is uninhabited and slowly returning to nature. The transition is haunting!




40 years later and Hashima still looks like an abandoned mining town. The harsh climate, high winds and typhoons that regularly hit the island are certainly taking their toll on the remaining buildings, creating the most surrealist backdrop of nature and concrete. Dali would certainly be inspired by this place!

The island was strictly off limits for yeas because of the old mines but in 2009 the first boat connection was established since Japan pulled the plug on the coal project. Some safety improvements have been made and you can even hire a guide to lead you around the development.

As you can imagine, an island like this hasn’t been overlooked by Hollywood as an amazing backdrop for a film. Recognise this place from Skyfall, the latest in the Bond series? Japan has been trying for years to get it one the World Heritage List, but with no success.

If you’re heading to Nagasaki on Kyushu Island make a little detour to Hashima, you won’t be disappointed!

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