Japan’s Battleship Island, as Made Famous by James Bond’s Skyfall
Hashima (端島) is an uninhabited island 9 miles from Nagasaki. Commonly called Gunkanjima (軍艦島), or “Battleship Island”, the island’s nickname came from its apparent resemblance to Japanese battleship Tosa.
It is one of 505 uninhabited islands near Nagasaki, although it was habited from 1887 until 1974 as a coal mining facility for Mitsubishi.
At its peak more than 5,000 people lived on this small island, which is only 150m wide by 480m long. This was actually the highest population density in history worldwide.
Today all of the apartment buildings and sea wall remain undisturbed and intact just as they were left decades ago.
Currently the island is even being considered for registration as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although its submission is being contested by South Korea due to possible forced labor at the coal mining facilities during WWII.
In the 2012 James Bond film Skyfall, the island was the inspiration for the lair of the movie’s villain, although none of the actual filming took place there. This has caused many tourists to visit the island in the past few years.
Even though that movie was not filmed there, it has been featured in other movies and even a music video for the popular J-rock band B’z.
For many years the public was not allowed to access Gunkanjima as it was too dangerous. As of 2009 visitors can now visit Gunkanjima again. However, there are many restricted areas.
The easiest way to visit the island is through a tour. Most tours last 2 hours and there are two main tour operators: Yamasa-Kaiun and Kyodo Co., although so far the only tours we found were in Japanese only.
Only 3 different observation platforms are accessible, from where they can see the majority of the buildings from a safe distance. You’ll notice there are many tall, empty buildings that are literally falling apart. Some of them have already collapsed.
Even though you can’t get that close to the buildings or go inside, I still really recommend visiting, as it’s a very interesting place.
Address: Hashima, Nagasaki, Japan
[post by Beth]
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