Battleship Island

I say fire up the boilers, weigh anchor and let’s set sail!

Hashima Island or more commonly Gunkanjima (meaning battleship island) is 9 miles from Nagasaki in Japan. It is one of 505 uninhabited islands in the Nagasaki Prefecture. Wow, lots to explore here.

Low rent district

The island’s most notable features are its abandoned concrete buildings, undisturbed except by nature, and the surrounding sea wall. While the island is a symbol of the rapid industrialization of Japan, it is also a reminder of err…a dig-till-you-drop-dead prison.

So what the heck were they up to here? Turns out this island was atop a massive undersea coal deposit and since 1887 dig they must. Today we think of coal as what other people in other times fooled around with but it is near an all time high production level and is still being mined around the world on land and sea. Ugh!

Coal is not so dead

In the 1930s the island was a hard knocks work camp for captured Chinese prisoners. It’s one more thing the Chinese are still miffed about when it comes to Japan. The Japanese are a very thoughtful and kind people with a genetic disposition to be apologetic about everything…except The War. They like to pretend it didn’t really happen so much. I’ve been to the National Museum in Tokyo and WWII gets a tiny room with about 10 photos so they know it happened, but hey…

The Germans, on the other hand, never stop apologizing for Hitler. You know, the more I hear about this Hitler guy the less I like him. He did have one endearing achievement though. He’s the guy who killed Hitler! That’s a plus, yes? I find it unfathomable that we were at war with the Germans and the Japanese and…the Italians, all terrific, lovely people. How nuts is that?! Russia, China—allies. The others—the enemies. Ah, well.

The island shut down in 1974 when the coal petered out and the island was officially off limits but hey—rules, right? Adventurers and party animals were illegally visiting and falling through the rotting roofs and floors with regularity. But in 2009 you could visit and legally fall through the roofs and floors. This link is of the guy who filmed the island for Google Street View.

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