Gunkanjima Warship Island

Gunkan-jima 'Warship Island': embarkation pier in Nagasaki --- Hashima island, also known as Gunkan-jima (Warship or Battleship island), is located 15km southwest of the Port of Nagasaki in southern Japan. The "Ghost Island" is an uninhabited, abandoned island. Populated from 1887 to 1974, it was a coal mining facility. Its population density was 835 people per hectare (83,500 people/km2) in 1959. Its nickname came from its apparent resemblance to the Japanese battleship 'Tosa' from the distance. Due to the depletion of the coal in the 1970s, the coalmine was closed in January 1974 by its owner, the Mitsubishi company. Over the years, Gunkan-jima, which in 2003 was the location for scenes from "Battle Royale II" starring Takeshi Kitano, has been a place of predilection for lovers of urban and industrial exploration -- although landing on the island was forbidden by authorities for safety reasons. The island also has a cult following on the internet and has attracted a plethora of photo-essays and documentary projects. In 2008 an association nominated the island to be recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hashima was re-opened to the public on 22 April 2009, after more than 30 years of closure. Guided tours, including a chance to visit the island, are now available from Nagasaki. Nagasaki prefecture, Japan, 14 October 2009.

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A photo-feature by Tadayoshi Nakamura

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