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Gunkanjima: Hashima Island

Gunkanjima is an abandoned island located in Nagasaki Prefecture. The island got famous thanks to its ghostly appearance: surrounded by a sea wall, you will find an entire abandoned metropolis. The real name of the island is Hashima but from its resemblance to a battleship the nickname of Gunkanjima is born.

It started in 1810 when coal was found on the little island of Hashima. Mitsubishi bought the island for only 100,000Y in 1890 and started to operate immediately. Required infrastructures (like housing) were built and workers were asked to come and live here along with their family. In 1959, Hashima became a real megalopolis with 5,300 inhabitants. At this time,the island had the world-highest density of population with (100,000 per km2) for the residential district. The land was completely urbanized with apartment buildings, schools, a hospital, a gymnasium, a movie theater, numerous shops, a shrine, a pachinko parlor, bath houses, many bars and even a brothel. The high quality coal of Gunkanjima helped Japan to sustain the war effort and its economical growth.  Then petroleum started to replace coal as it was cheaper and easier to produce. The mine eventually had to close in 1974.

The island was abandoned and not visited for many years until an exponentially growing interest started in the 2000’s. The island was photographed, used in music videos and even appeared in movies. In 2009, the city of Nagasaki started an official tour to visit the place which let you have a tour on a tiny portion of the island. It was also around this time that I decided to visit the other side of the island. Since that first visit, I went back a few times more to fully experience it. I can now take you for a special tour going through all my favorite places on the island.

Don’t miss the story of my adventures on Gunkanjima on:

I keep my best collection of photos of Gunkanjima here:
Gunkanjima on

Please also have a look at the fantastic Pictures of Yuji Saga taken in 1974.


  • 1890-1974
  • Nihon No Haikyo #177