Once a thriving coal mine, more recently a derelict deserted mass of buildings on an island off Nagasaki, Hashima Island, also known as Gunkanjima (Warship Island) is set to become a tourist attraction in Japan. The island has been closed for 35 years but tours by boat to photograph and view the buildings without landing had been getting close to 10,000 per year. Now with the landing permission available numbers are expected to increase further.
Trendy Magazine by Nikkei BP took a look at some mini-tours in its May 2009 edition and included Gunkanjima in its picks of places to go. All photos are from the magazine Trendy.
The island is quite small and measures 480 metres by just 160 metres. The area you can explore when you visit the island is limited to the South-West corner and split into 3 viewing areas. It is not possible to go inside the buildings themselves.
You can only stay on the island for a limit of 1 hour at a time. Due to weather restrictions it is expected that visits can only be made 100 days of the year.
The city of Nagasaki has spent almost $1 million upgrading facilities so that tourists can safely dock at the pier and walk around the designated track. There is a fee both for the tour and also for landing on the island. The landing fee is quite cheap at just Yen 300 (approx. USD$3). The tour fee may be about YEN 4,000 for a return trip.
Kyushu are hoping to have this site listed on the World Heritage list.
For a recent article discussing the island you can read the Japan Times Online here.
Here are some great images of the island from Google Images
This site has a great flash animation showing parts of the island and buildings http://www.gunkanjima.com/
and for some older pictures that show the island back when people were living and working there have a look at this site http://ascii.jp/elem/000/000/410/410948/
A video documentary showing a visit of the island by a past resident.
Tomioka silk mill, Gunma-ken
Another place of interest covered in the Trendy Magazine article is the old Tomioka silk mill in Gunma-ken, built in 1872.
The buildings were constructed in the Meji period and have a strong brick presence about them. It is only possible to enter and view the main building area. The town of Tomioka-shi are pushing to have this site listed on the World Heritage list. Here is the link to the World Heritage site showing the detail of the application. http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5094/
Trendy Magazine is published by Nikkei BP in Japanese every month. It covers a range of topics including leisure, electronics, food and lifestyle. It costs 550 YEN per edition.