I now the image many of you have is that Japan is of a bustling metropolis filled with people, with every square inch of land accounted for and optimized for use. Gee, that’s the way I think of it too since I living just 15 minutes west of ground-zero Shibuya Tokyo.
However, there are plenty of areas of Japan that are used and forgotten—in ruins. Check out this book at our sponsor J-List‘s done by the photographer. Shinichiro Kobayashi, as part of his popular Deathtopia series. Japan the way it could be— Barren and empty, rusted and hollow, with nature slowly reclaiming its dues.
In the same death-topia theme, check out this fascinating DVD about a deserted Japanese ghost island called Gunkanjima – Forest of Ruins (region 2)
Off the coast of Nagasaki Prefecture, there sits an amazing piece of history, the ruins known as Gunkanjima, literally “Battleship Island”, for its high concrete walls around the island and distinct scarcity of greenery make it appear like an abandoned battleship floating on the sea.
Once a thriving city, the island originally named Hashima was discovered to contain outcroppings of coal, and mining began in the later part of the ninteenth century before it was bought by Mitsubishi in 1890. Over the next eighty years Hashima became the world’s most densely populated area of the planet, with over 5200 people living on the island, just a little less than half a kilometer long on its longest end. It contained some of the first concrete apartment complexes in Japan to house the workers, and even had its own pachinko parlours, schools, a movie theater, shopping — everything required for daily living was found on this tiny island. In 1974 the mine was closed and the island abandoned, leaving behind a ghost town sitting on an island.
Damn, I wanna see it but…
All visits to the island are banned by Mitsubishi and it’s strictly monitored by security cams and patrols.
HOWEVER, you and I can see the feral island on this DVD takes us on a 45 minute journey to Gunkanjima, showing the deserted island as it stands today, a ruined city rising out of the ocean. Untouched by vandalism, with only nature taking its gradual but inevitable toll on the concrete structures that remain. Presented in 4:5 in two versions, one with narration in Japanese in 2.0 stereo and a second one with just background music and naturally recorded sounds in 5.1 channel surround. Extras include a virtual map, history, time line, and photo gallery.