battleship island japan

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The Abandoned Island of Hashima also known as Battleship Island(Gunkanjima)

founded in 1887 its industry was based around it’s undersea coal mines. in 1974 the mines closed after the coal resources were depleted. and almost overnight the islands population left for the mainland leaving behind a concrete time capsule that went untouched for nearly three decades.    

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Fishing on Gunkanjima

Hashima has fascinated me for years. A small island in the bay of Nagasaki, it has been nicknamed Battleship Island, or Gunkanjima, for its appearance. Once, it was run as a coal mine by Mitsubishi. When it became unprofitable, it was abandoned by the company overnight. People didn’t even have time to empty their apartments.

I find myself thinking about it all the time. How it must have felt to live so densely with other people, in such an efficient, corporate space. Living quarters, shops, common areas, a school, a hospital, neatly stacked and crowded together. Workers descending deep below the sea floor every morning and blackening the water in the public pool every night. The island could easily serve as the prototype for a Mars colony, or as a lair for a James Bond villain (actually it has).

Long it had been illegal to visit because the ruins where considered unsafe. Now, tourist boats go there multiple times a day. Still it is not allowed to explore the island fully and most of the island is fenced off. But this does not discourage local fishermen. They are all over the island, amidst the ruins, motionlessly waiting for a catch, not unlike the flocks of birds sitting on the crumbling concrete.

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Hashima Island by Denise E.