Nagasaki’s Gunkanjima or “Battleship Island”, opened to tourists this week.
Off the westernmost coast of Japan, the island is hardly known even to the Japanese. Long ago, the island was nothing more than a small reef. Then in 1810, with the chance discovery of coal … people came to live there, and through coal mining the reef started to expand continuously. Before long, the reef had grown into an artificial island of one kilometer (three quarters of a mile) in perimeter. Looming above the ocean, it appeared a concrete labyrinth of many-storied apartment houses and mining structures built closely together.
Seen from the ocean, the silhouette of the island closely resembled a battleship – so, the island came to be called Gunkanjima, or Battleship Island.”
The 6.3-hectare, 480-meter-long island at its peak had some 5,300 workers and their families living in a tight jumble of apartment blocks. One of which, includes the country’s first high-rise made of reinforced concrete.
Tourists are now allowed to visit the island if they by way of a ship tour costing ¥4,000 for a round-trip ticket, plus an additional ¥300 landing fee. The stay on the island is limited to one hour, according to the city of Nagasaki.
Tourists will have to stick to a specially-constructed pathway, and are only able to view many of the abandoned buildings from the outside.
Fuji TV’s Mezamashi TV morning show featured a tour of the island: