Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Hashima Island (meaning “Border Island”), commonly called Gunkanjima (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.
Amenities like a movie theater, doctor’s office, arcades, restaurants and bars were added later, and the city became a thriving, microcosmic community. The entire complex was linked via underground tunnels. At its peak in 1959, Hashima Island was the most densely populated city on Earth, with 5,259 inhabitants on the small, rocky outcropping, the highest population density ever recorded worldwide. That’s 835 people for every 2.5 acres.
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’s called the Ghost Island. Travel to Hashima is currently prohibited