Gunkanjima:-The Ghost town on an Island (Video Included)

Hashima Island (or correctly Hashima, as -shima is Japanese for island), commonly called Gunkanjima or Gunkanshima ( meaning Battleship Island), is one among 505 uninhabited islands in the Nagasaki Prefecture about 15 kilometers from Nagasaki itself. The island was populated from 1887 to 1974 as a coal mining facility. The island’s most notable features are the abandoned concrete buildings and the sea wall surrounding it. It has been administered as part of Nagasaki, Nagasaki since 2005; it had previously been administered by the former town of Takashima.


Battleship Island is an English translation of the Japanese nickname for Hashima Island. It also is known as the Ghost Island. It is known for its coal mines and their operation during the industrialization of Japan. Mitsubishi 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), a block of apartments in 1916 to accommodate their burgeoning ranks of workers (many of whom were forcibly recruited labourers from other parts of Asia) and to protect against typhoon destruction. According to a South Korean commission, the island housed 500 Koreans who were forced to work between 1939 and 1945, during World War II.


In 1959, its population density was 835 people per hectare (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.


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. Travel to Hashima was re-opened on April 22, 2009 after more than 20 years of closure.

Learn more from Wikipedia.

Photo’s from Wikipedia and here.

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9 Responses to Gunkanjima:-The Ghost town on an Island (Video Included)

  1. bingbing says:

    It looks a bit like Detroit.

  2. magsx2 says:

    Hi bingbing,
    I’ll have to take your word for it, I’ve never been to America.

    • gregoryno6 says:

      Did someone mention Detroit?

      I heard this on the radio for the first time ever just a couple of hours ago. I’m half inclined to think it’s a joke, especially the line about “huggable and kissable”.

  3. Jill says:

    What a waste, there seems to be a lot there that could of been sold off rather than rot away, or even given to charities, there are so many people I’m sure that would of been grateful for some of the things I saw in the video. Anything would of been better than seeing a lot of the stuff wasted.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi Jill,
      Yes I did notice a few things, but the buildings did seem to be pretty empty, I did however notice the piano, that seemed to be a bit of a waste, there is most likely a fair bit of stuff there that was left, as a lot of the people living there would not of been able to take it with them. I agree there may of been some things that could of been given to charities, but I couldn’t find any reference to what may or may not have been given away or sold.

  4. gregoryno6 says:

    My first thought was Alcatraz.
    If they rebuilt the prison on Sarah Island today it would probably come out a lot like this too.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi gregoryno6,
      Went onto your Youtube link, and I couldn’t believe there were all these songs about Detroit, who would of thought. What is it about Detroit? I feel I’m definitely missing something, but I don’t know what!

      Thank You for link. Very interesting link to the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service. I have actually been to Sarah Island many years ago now, but the history of the Island is very Interesting. From the article:-

      The Sarah Island Historic Site is Tasmania’s oldest convict settlement, operating from 1822 to 1833.

      If anyone is Interested in reading a bit more, please go onto the link that gregoryno6 has provided, it is only a short article but well worth the read.

  5. Gregoryno6 says:

    Between my uncle who lives in Hobart and The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes, I don’t know why I didn’t get myself to Tasmania a long time ago. I got there for just a week in 2005 and spent 3-4 days in Strahan.
    The boat cruise down the harbour was an event I’ll always remember. And standing on the island itself I wondered how they had managed to cram so many people on it.
    There are a couple of good movies about the legendary escape, but I should warn the squeamish that the cannibalism is NOT underplayed.
    Van Diemen’s Land.
    The Last Confession Of Alexander Pearce.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi Gregoryno6,
      Yes I remember when I was in Tassie (a long time ago) there was a lot of references to the cannibalism that happened.
      The preview on Youtube looks very interesting, the link to Van Diemens’ Land also looks good. I haven’t got all the way through that one yet, it’s quite a big site, but when I have more time will certainly go through it all.
      Again Thanks for the great links, and very interesting as well.

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