Hashima (Gunkanjima)

A former coal mine in the middle of the sea

Nagasaki, a city rich in history and culture, is home to a unique attraction that has captivated tourists from around the world. Located nine miles from the mainland lies Hashima, also known as Gunkanjima or Battleship Island. This uninhabited island, with its eerie atmosphere and remnants of a once-thriving coal mine, stands as a testament to japan‘s industrial development and its subsequent decline.

Don’t Miss

One of the main highlights of visiting Hashima is the opportunity to take a tour of the abandoned coal mine. These up-close and personal tours provide a fascinating glimpse into the island’s history and the lives of the people who once called it home. The tours also offer a chance to explore the decaying buildings and witness the effects of time and nature on this once bustling community.

If you prefer to view Gunkanjima from afar, you can do so from the mainland. Nagasaki’s most southern tip offers a vantage point where you can observe the deserted buildings and witness the play of light through the crumbling windows. It’s a haunting sight that truly captures the essence of this unique island.

How to Get There

To reach Gunkanjima, you must join one of the organized tours that run several times a day. These tours depart from different locations in Nagasaki Port and vary in terms of language availability, age restrictions, health requirements, and other options. The journey to the island takes approximately 30 minutes one-way, and it’s important to note that tours may be canceled during severe weather conditions or other unfavorable circumstances. To ensure a smooth experience, it is highly recommended to make advance reservations, especially for weekends and holidays.

Quick Facts

Gunkanjima is known as an uninhabited island of ruins. It stretches a mere 480 meters in length and 160 meters in width. Despite its small size, the island once boasted a hospital, two schools, shops, and even a temple and shrine. It was a self-sufficient community that thrived on the coal mining industry and played a significant role in Japan’s industrialization.

A symbol of industrial development

Gunkanjima’s story is a reverse rags-to-riches tale that encapsulates Japan’s modernization in the years leading up to the Second World War. Developed by Mitsubishi and serving as a hub of national coal mining, the island’s population swelled to an astonishing 5,300 people in its prime. It was a symbol of Japan’s rapid industrialization and served as a testament to the nation’s economic prowess.

However, as energy needs shifted and coal mines became less profitable, Gunkanjima was quickly abandoned in the 1970s. The island was left to the mercy of nature, becoming a grim reminder of Japan’s past. The crumbling buildings and decaying infrastructure stood as a stark contrast to the once-thriving community that inhabited the island.

Dawning of a new era

In 2009, Gunkanjima opened its doors to tourists, sparking an interest in abandoned ruins tourism. The island’s unique atmosphere and historical significance attracted visitors from around the world. Recognizing its cultural value, Gunkanjima was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015.

Visiting Gunkanjima allows tourists to witness firsthand the remnants of a bygone era. Walking through the deserted streets and exploring the dilapidated buildings, one can’t help but feel a sense of awe and wonder. It’s a hauntingly beautiful experience that offers a glimpse into the past and a reflection on the transient nature of human endeavors.

Things to bear in mind

Before planning a trip to Gunkanjima, there are a few important things to consider. First and foremost, it is essential to note that visitors are not allowed to explore the island on their own. Due to the structural instability of the buildings, all visitors must travel in organized tour groups. This measure ensures the safety of tourists and preserves the integrity of the island’s structures.

Additionally, tours may be canceled or rescheduled in case of inclement weather. It’s advisable to avoid visiting during typhoon season, rainy periods, or winter months when adverse weather conditions are more likely to occur.

Furthermore, access to the island may be denied to individuals with health issues or limited mobility. Some tours may not be wheelchair accessible, so it’s important to check with tour operators for specific terms and conditions.

Lastly, participants in the tours are required to sign a safety contract. This contract outlines the rules and regulations of the tour and ensures that visitors understand the potential risks associated with exploring the island.

In conclusion, Gunkanjima is a remarkable destination that offers a glimpse into Japan’s industrial past. The island’s abandoned coal mine and decaying buildings stand as a testament to the nation’s rapid modernization and subsequent decline. Whether you choose to embark on a tour of the island or simply admire it from afar, Gunkanjima is an unforgettable experience that provides a unique perspective on Japan’s history and the transient nature of human endeavors.

Address And Maps Location:

Nagasaki-shi, Nagasaki-ken

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