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Abandoned island – gunkanjima

The Japanese island with a mystifying atmosphere is known as Gunkanjima – the ‘battleship’ island. Its official name is Hashima-island and you can find it about 19 km offshore from the Nagasaki Harbour. The reason why it is named battleship is simply because of its distinctive shape.

Indeed the floating battleship-shaped island will greet you as you cruise for about half an hour. Nobody lives on the island today, and you can only see the shadow of the ruins of what the island was once flourished from; a coal mining.

In the late 19th century, several decades after the coal mines were discovered on the land, the giant investment started to dig the coals for the nation’s power and it boosted a massive flow of labours into the island. The land area continued to expand by landfills to 6 times bigger than the initial size. At its peak time, it was recorded that the population density was higher than today’s Tokyo. However, in the 1960s, when the energy source started to be replaced by oil, the coal industry came to an end. After the mine closed, the island has been non-entry for over 40 years. In 2009, however, the government lifted the ban on entry, and today anybody can tour some selected sites to experience the Japanese legacy of industrialisation.

It probably became more known to people outside Japan when the island was featured in James Bond film Skyfall (2012) as the hidden headquarters of Raoul Silva, played by Javier Bardem. Listed as one of the 23 World Heritage sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution by UNESCO in 2015, it would be worth visiting the impressively cement-coated island once had everything. The scars of economic decline might make you nostalgic.