Here’s a fun story: the ghost island of 1831! It was given various names by the many men who claimed it – “Julia,” “Ferdinandea,” “Graham Island.” When it disappeared, those men mostly forgot about it. 

But Charles Lyell, a good friend and colleague of Charles Darwin, was really excited about the island. He saw this underwater volcano as evidence of this theory of geologic uniformitarianism (the idea that the forces we see at work in the world today have always been shaping the world) and wrote about it the second volume of his major work. It was called Principles of Geology: being an attempt to explain the former changes of the Earth’s surface, by reference to causes now in operation.

You can learn more about lava (and see this story fully animated) in Skunk Bear’s latest video: THE LAVA AFFAIR.

Also called “Battleship Island”, Hashima Island off the coast of Japan was once the most densely populated city on planet earth. From 1890 to 1974, the island was a coal mining facility. But when petroleum replaced coal in the 1960′s, coal mines across Japan began shutting down and Hashima was abandoned, giving it a new nickname, “Ghost Island.”

Proper want to go there. :(

Hashima ‘Ghost’ Island - Leaving it all behind…

- Abandoned Places

“At one time Hashima Island was described as the most densely populated place in the world. Now it is completely empty, the buildings starting to tumble as nature takes the island back for her own…”

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Ghost Island, abandoned since 1974

During the industrial revolution in Japan, the Mitsubishi company built this remote island civilization around large coal deposits in theNagasaki islands. The island is home to some of Japan’s first high rise concrete buildings, and for almost a century, mining thrived on the island.

Today, a post-apocalyptic vibe haunts the abandoned island and the dilapidated towers and empty streets exist in a creepy industrial silence. In 2009, the island opened to tourists, so now you can take a trip to explore the Ghost Island’s abandoned movie theaters, apartment towers, and shops.


    Hashima Island, Nagasaki, Japan. This former coal mining facility once housed thousands of workers during the industrialisation of Japan. Tall concrete apartment complexes were built to pack workers onto the small island, and a large seawall was built around it to protect against tsunamis. As petroleum replaced coal, the island was eventually completely abandoned. 


Gunkanjima - Hashima

“The island was populated from 1887 to 1974 as a coal mining facility. The island’s most notable features are the abandoned and undisturbed concrete apartment buildings and the surrounding sea wall. The island has been administered as part of Nagasaki city since the merger of the former town of Takashima in 2005.[citation needed]

It is known for its coal mines and their operation during the industrialization of JapanMitsubishi bought the island in 1890 and began the project, the aim of which was retrieving coal from undersea mines. They built Japan’s first large concrete building (9 stories high),[1] a block of apartments in 1916 to accommodate their burgeoning ranks of workers. Concrete was specifically used to protect against typhoondestruction. In 1959, the 6.3-hectare (16-acre) island’s population reached its peak of 5,259, with a population density of 835 people perhectare (83,500 people/km2, 216,264 people per square mile) for the whole island, or 1,391 per hectare (139,100 people/km2) for the residential district.[2][not in citation given]

As petroleum replaced coal in Japan in the 1960s, coal mines began shutting down all over the country, and Hashima’s mines were no exception. Mitsubishi officially announced the closing of the mine in 1974, and today it is empty and bare, which is why it is called Ghost Island.[3] Travel to Hashima was re-opened on April 22, 2009 after 35 years of closure.[4]


Gunkanjima (“Battleship Island”) has been deserted since 1972.

Off the West coast of Japan, this island was built after the discovery of coal in 1810 which let to the installation of mining activities and therefore gave rise to a population.

After coal was replaced by petroleum and mines were closed, people were forced to leave and the concrete island was left as it was for decades. Now open to public, let’s just hope it doesn’t turn into a tourist attraction and keeps its nostalgic authenticity.

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Hashima, the ghost island of Japan. It is also known as Gunkajima or Battleship Island due to its shape. It may not look like it, but this island was once the most densely populated place on earth. Because of the big amounts of coal which lay underneath this island many families of coalworkers lived there; even schools and hospitals were built for the inhabitants. But after the decline of the coal industry it became abandoned.Currently they try to designate Hashima as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

(You may recognize it from a scene of Skyfall. Indeed the island was an inspiration source for the director hence the resemblance.)

Gunkanjima: the ghost island

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Hashima, one of Nagasaki prefecture’s 505 deserted island, in Japan, is a creepy and charming place, destination of an usual kind of adventurous and alternative turism.

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The island is also known as Gunkanjima, which means “battleship”, due to the appearance of its profile on the Ocean: a grey and decadent island surrounded by a concrete wall, with buildings on the brink of collapse outlining the shape of large warship. This mysterious island was built on an important coal mine (owned by Mitsubishi) which, between 1887 and 1974, contributed heavily to Nagasaki’s energy production. It was such an important mining centre that there were built apartments for the miners, and schools, hospitals, gyms, cinemas, bars, restaurants and shops for their families. Japan’s first buildings in reinforced concrete were built there, as defence against the frequent typhoons hitting the area. In 1959 the island came to be the place with the highest population density in the world, with 3.450 inhabitants per square kilometre. The apartments were like monks’ cells, narrow and suffocating, and the inhabitants were divided in “classes”: unmarried or married miners, and Mitsubishi managers and teachers, who could even have the luxury of a private kitchen and bathroom. Hashima’s survival depended entirely on the supplies from the mainland, so if a typhoon hit the island its inhabitants had to try and survive for days before the successive cargo ship.

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In its period of fullest activity, the island produced 410.000 tons of coal every year, an intense rhythm kept at the expanse of human life. For this reason, mostly Corean and Chinese prisoners were employed in the mine. Many lost their lives due to starvation or bad hygienic conditions. Here’s an excerpt from the account of Suh Jung-Woo, a Corean who was forced to work on the island interviewed in 1983:

“Even with such a exhausting work, our meals consisted for the 80% of beans and 20% boiled rice with a few sardines. I suffered from diarrhoea almost every day, and gradually my forces abandoned me. I tried to rest, but the guards would come and force me to work…I don’t know how many times I thought about throwing myself into the sea to drown…Forty or fifty of my Corean companions committed suicide or drowned trying to swim to Takahama. I can’t swim. But I was lucky. After five months I was transferred to the Mitsubishi Saiwai-Machi factory in Nagasaki, and thus managed to leave the island. If I had remained there, I wouldn’t be alive now. Now they call the place “Battleship island”, but for us it was “Prison Island”, with no way to escape.”

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Hashima Island was abandoned after petroleum started to substitute coal as source of energy. Since 1974, Gunkanjima is a ghost town

Even tough it was a place of suffering and death, Hashima now represents an important place in Japan’s post-war development’s history. The island is today a cemetery of buildings on the brink of collapse, but, maybe because of this ghostly charm, it’s a destination for urban exploration enthusiasts and film directors. It’s been the set for such movies like “Battle Royale II: Requiem” (2003) and “Inception” (2010), and for the music video “My Lonely Town” of Japanese rock band B’z. In 2009 it has also made an appearance in BBC’s documentary “Life after people”.

In 2005 a few journalist were permitted access to the island and then the world has come to know of the existence of this incredible place. Up to 2009 setting foot in this ghost town was punished with imprisonment but, in that year’s April, part of the island was opened for visitors, even if, due to sea conditions, it’s possible to reach it only for 160 days a year.

Those who’d like to take on this adventurous trip on the ghost island can take a look at this site, unfortunately only in Japanese: Gunkanjima website. For additional information in English, visit the site Gunkanjima mini-tour.

Image gallery on original post.

Other link:

Documentary on a miner of Hashima


( Translation by Marco Salvadori )

Ghost Island by Ermolytskyy Alexander on 35PHOTO                                                        (Larger)

There are places in the world where the usual laws do not apply.
There trees grow on rocks and stones float on the surface of the water
and dissolve into the mists. You can close your eyes, lie down 
on a cloud and float across the sky, enjoying the pleasant coolness.

"Russia, Krasnoyarsk region, country park Ergaki, Lake Artists.”