An Abandoned Island

Published July 12, 2012
Updated July 9, 2012


Some 15 kilometers off the coast of Nagasaki, Japan, rests the abandoned Hashima Island. Once a burgeoning coal mining area from 1887 to 1974, the island fell into disrepair and is now referred to as Ghost Island, as a sea wall encloses only decrepit housing and business complexes.





Established as a coal-mining town for the Mitsubishi Company, Nagasaki once housed thousands of workers (1400 per hectare during its 1959 peak). These workers were employed to harvest coal from the sea floor. Due to the isolated terrain and the 50-minute boat ride to the island, workers had to send money to their families back in the mainland rather than commute back to do so. The island flourished for decades before the rise of oil as the fuel of choice in the second half of the 20th century. The Mitsubishi Company deemed the operation redundant and the island was abandoned and placed off-limits. The direct route to the island was quickly discontinued as well.



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