Gunkanjima Opens

Mike Grist Ghost Towns, Haikyo, Nagasaki 7 Comments

Gunkanjima opens to the public! The famed ‘Battleship Island’, properly Hashima island- formerly a haikyo Holy Grail, has now been opened to tourists to ‘explore’ along a specially built walkway. The cost of the trip is 4,000yen, including the ferry ride out to the dilapidated island. Tourists have up to one hour (weather permitting) to wander the walkway before they have to re-board the ferry and leave.

This is great in some ways- the island will be preserved, vandals will be stopped from gaining access as security will be doubtless beefed up. But for the same reason, any proper exploration of the island will now be virtually impossible. It’s a live site again.

UER has a ton of photos and text about this place- including many more photos by Kuroneko, amongst others. The following text by

‘As days passed on the island, my impression of it began to change greatly. The innumerable articles left behind, all shrouded in dust, rusted,to me at first seemed merely drifting toward death. Yet, from one point in time, they started to look vivid, and beautiful. I thought perhaps the island, while appearing to fall deep asleep, had gradually commenced to awaken, the day it was deserted.’

Video from Dotokou, a man who grew up on the island, and revisits before it was opened to the public. Haunting. English subtitles.

Brian Burke-Gaffney writes a great article on Gunkanjima.

The Gunkanjima ferry info can be accessed from this site.

Thanks to Miki for tipping me off on this.

Comments 7

  1. Low-brow, I know, but the first thing I thought when I saw the video was “Battle Royale”.

    Reading the history of Gunkanjima, I was also reminded of Kowloon Walled City, a high-density self-contained city in Hong Kong which was torn down in 1993.

    Also, wow, 4000 yen for a 1 hour “exploration” on a limited walkway? I hope they eventually loosen up these restrictions!

  2. I was able to go there in 1992 when I was an exchange student. My classmates were able to pay a fisherman to drop us off in the morning and pick us up later in the afternoon at high tide so the boat could get high enough to what was left of the dock. This was before digital cameras so I only had a couple of rolls 35mm with slide film. I have to find the photos somewhere in storage.

    I am glad it will be preserved, I hope in the future they allow more guided tours inside but that may be a liability nightmare. It is an amazing site because it was a full city with every type of building. We went inside housing units that still had items left behind, the most freaky place was the hospital that had piles and pile of glass vials and bottle stacked up in rooms.

    Again, your site is amazing!

  3. Post

    Mike- Agreed, if there were no crowds and no restrictions it`d be a dream come true, one of the ultiamate modern ruins locations. Chernobyl has it beat for sheer size and the fact an apocalypse just about happened there- but gunkanjima is older and just overall more beat down. Sadly, I don`t think it`ll be possible to `properly` explore this place again…

    Pireze- That may (or may not) be low-brow, but I think it`s also quite accurate. As I understand it- parts of Battle Royale II were filmed on the island. Kowloon walled city! Yes I too have seen photos of that place- like something out of Blade Runner, truly bizarre, and though it might have been nice toi explore a haikyo of it- I think it was an incredibly hazardous place, and better off gone.

    P3- You went there? Respect. I`d love to see any photos you have, if you could be bothered to both dig them up AND scan them into a computer. Back when the place was still unpublic. Glad you like my site 🙂

    Ted- Very interesting, thanks for the link.

  4. Thank you for posting the short documentary about the man on Dotokou. I am greatly looking forward to the second part of the video. I must say, though, that the island’s history and abandonment reminded me of Silent Hill. I am not sure if you are familiar with the survival video game/horror movie but it is based on the town of Centralia, Pennsylvania. The town, like Dotokou, revolved around its coal mining operations but it was abandoned after a mine fire burned beneath the borough. According to Wikipedia, the town size dwindled from 1000 residents to only 9. Unfortunately, nearly all of the buildings have been razed so the prospect of ‘haikyo-ing’ is slim. In addition, the mine fire continues to burn and can cause some adverse health effects due to the high amount of carbon monoxide emissions. Today, the town holds the status of a true ghost town (people have claimed to have seen spirits and ghosts hanging around town) but it is of my opinion that these were a result of the carbon monoxide. Wow, I didn’t think this would be so wordy but hopefully I provided some new insights for you 🙂 Thanks again!

  5. Post

    Andrew- Thanks for the info, I was aware of Centralia with its still raging underground fires- what a strange concept underground fires are. The dotokou thing, that’s the guy’s name, and the island is the familiar old Gunkanjima, the one that just got opened. Second part of the video- good call, I assumed it was on YouTube but it looks as if it isn’t. Hmmm.
    Silent Hill, I’ve never played it but would like to after people reference it a lot in comparison to these locations. another game that gets referenced is the Japanese ‘Fatal Frame’, do you know that? I’ve never played it, but it features a girl walking round a ghost town with a camera- the only way she can defeat ghosts is to get very close and take their photograph. That dispels them. It sounds like good fun, and very innovative.

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