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Ghost Towns from Around the World: Wednesday Hashima Island

Departing from the hellish fires of yesterday, we travel across the globe and out into the ocean to visit Hashima Island, one of the only known ghost islands.

Between 1887 and 1974, the island was a coal mining facility. Most of the coal was mined from undersea deposits, making the work extremely dangerous. Plus, its an island out at sea. Those concrete walls aren’t there for style they’re typhoon barriers. This was extremely dangerous work.

Hashima Island
Hashima Island.

During the industrialization of Japan, the demand for coal exploded, resulting in a massive influx of workers to Hashima Island. In 1916, the population had grown so large that apartments were built to help the growing amount of workers and further protect from typhoon damage. But, as time continued, the workers kept coming by the hundreds.

Hashima Island
Hashima Island apartments.

In 1959, the 15-acre island was populated by 5,259 people. If you do the math, that comes out to a density of around 216,264 people per square mile. To give you a comparison, in the year 2000, New York City contained 26,402 people per square mile. Hashima Island was a crowded, harsh environment, even more so than New York City, and that’s saying something.

When petroleum became huge in the 1960s, the coal mines started shutting down and the workers lost their jobs. Since coal mining was the only draw to Hashima Island, literally everyone left. These days, there is not a single person on Hashima Island, and it is extremely difficult to gain access to the island. Even the rare few that have gained access do so at their own risk, because the buildings have felt the harsh realities of time and decay.

Hashima Island
Hashima Island, as you would see it today.

As a parting note, Hashima Island was given the nickname Gunkanjima. If you translate this to English, it means Battleship Island. Go take a look at the first picture again. Uncanny, right?