things to do in Hashima Gunkanjima Battleship island Nagasaki Japan

Hashima Island: Visiting The Mysterious Gunkanjima Battleship Island Japan

Nagasaki Travel Guide

Last updated:

Often known as Gunkanjima or battleship island for its similarity to a Japanese battleship, Hashima is an abandoned island in Nagasaki Japan.

Hashima island is a popular destination in Japan for those who love James Bond as it was an inspiration for Skyfall 2012 movie.

How to visit Gunkanjima battleship island?

Let’s take a look inside Japan’s abandoned battleship island to understand more about it.

things to do in Hashima Gunkanjima Battleship island Nagasaki Japan

 

Introduction

The article has the following sections:

  • The history of Hashima Island
  • The buildings on Hashima Island
  • Life on Hashima Island
  • Reasons Hashima island was abandoned
  • Hashima island nowadays
  • The cost to visit Gunkanjima
  • How to book tickets to Hashima Island
  • Review of Gunkanjima tour
  • Places to stay in Nagasaki

travel guide to Hashima Gunkanjima Battleship island Nagasaki Japan

 

The history of Hashima Island (Gunkanjima)

Located 19 km Southwest of Nagasaki harbor, Hashima Island was home to Mitsubishi’s coal mine workers.

The coal was first discovered on Gunkanjima in 1810, and the full-scale seabed coal mining operations started 80 years later, in 1890, by Mitsubishi Limited Partnership.

The distance from Mitsubishi Mining Company’s as the main coal mine on the island of Takashima to Hashima island is approximately 2.5 km.

ruins in Hashima Gunkanjima Battleship island Nagasaki Japan

The expansion of Hashima Island (Gunkanjima)

Gunkanjima was just a small aqueous rock at the beginning, but it was expanded due to the development of mining techniques.

The current size of Gunkanjima is three times more than its origin, after six times constructing the dams.

Hashima Gunkanjima Battleship island Nagasaki Japan

Coal mine work on Hashima Island (Gunkanjima)

Approximately 15.7 million tons of coal was mined during 1891 and 1974.

Mining the seabed coal reserves of Gunkanjima took the miners to places more than 1000 meters under sea level.

The working condition was terrible with a temperature of 30 Celsius degrees and 95% humid.  The miners had to work in a dangerous environment with the risk of a gas explosion.

things to see in Hashima Gunkanjima Battleship island Nagasaki Japan

 

The buildings on Hashima Island (Gunkanjima)

The population in Gunkanjima grew as a result of the increase in the amount of excavated coal. In 1916, the first apartment building was built on this battleship island.

What buildings are in Gunkanjima?

buildings in Hashima Gunkanjima Battleship island Nagasaki Japan

The list of buildings includes Employee housing, Mine manager’s residence, Employee dormitories, Employee clubhouses, Communal bath, Town housing, Police dispatch post, Community center, Miner’s training camp, Quarantine ward, Shops, Hashima hospital, Hashima school, gymnasium.

Besides shops and schools, the island had a cinema and pachinko hall for leisure activities.

There was a shrine on the island as well. On the 3rd of April every year, celebrations took place to celebrate the Yamagami festival. Nowadays, only a small part of the shrine remains.

General Office

This bridge building was the center of the mine. In the General Office, there was a large communal bath area for the miners. Most of the buildings surrounding the General Office have collapsed.

things to do in Hashima Gunkanjima Battleship island Nagasaki Japan
General Office in Gunkanjima Battleship Island

Apartment Buildings

Built in 1916, the No.30 apartment, or formerly known as “Glover House,” served as housing for the miners on Gunkanjima island.

This one is the oldest 7-story concrete apartment building in Japan.

apartment buildings in Gunkanjima Battleship island Nagasaki Japan
Apartment buildings in Gunkanjima

The remains of Jetty

Although the mine facilities are mostly in ruins, the steps leading to the jetty is still here.

how to visit Hashima Gunkanjima Battleship island Nagasaki Japan

 

Life on Hashima Island

During its peak, Hashima island was home to 5300 people, which was five times more than Tokyo in the same period.

Electricity and Water

At first, the electricity was supplied by a generator, but later by the undersea cable from Takashima island from 1918.

Veggies

There were vegetable gardens on the roofs of apartment buildings, and flowers and vegetables were grown there. It was believed that those are the first rooftop vegetable gardens in Japan.

travel guide to Hashima Gunkanjima Battleship island Nagasaki Japan

Typhoon

Due to its location, Hashima island suffered from large waves, and it got even worse during hurricanes.

However, the Islanders also got used to them and developed the habit of watching high waves from the rooftops.

 

Why was Hashima island abandoned?

Due to the Energy Revolution, people started to use oil power instead, and it led to the decline of coal demand. Therefore, the production of mine reduced along with the population of the

The coal mine on Hashima island was closed in January 1974 with the following abandon four months later in April.

The buildings on Gunkanjima island at the time were preserved, becoming ruins that looked from afar the island looked like a battleship – Gunkan – so the island was later named.

Visit this island, time seems to be stopping, and the surrounding landscape vividly recreates the old days.

why was hashima island abandoned

 

Hashima Island nowadays

After the mine was closed, Gunkanjima was left abandoned for many years until 2009 when Gunkanjima got considered as industrial heritage sites in Kyushu island.

You can now visit Gunkanjima island by taking tours from Nagasaki port.

abandoned Gunkanjima battleship island in Nagasaki Japan

 

Is Gunkanjima battleship island safe to visit?

Yes, it’s safe to visit part of Gunkanjima island. However, when visiting Gunkanjima, you should follow safety protocols.

 

How much does it cost to go to Gunkanjima?

The cost of Gunkanjima trip includes the boat tour service and battleship island entrance fee.

Boat tour fee:

Weekday: 4,000 Yen

Weekend, National Holiday and Vacations: 4,500 Yen

Inclusive Of:

  • Cruise experience
  • English audio guide (optional)
  • Insurance provided by the operator

Not Inclusive Of:

  • Nagasaki City facility fee (adults: JPY300 and children: JPY150)
  • Other personal expenses
  • Tips and gratuities (optional)

what to see in Hashima Gunkanjima Battleship island Nagasaki Japan

Battleship island entrance fee:

Besides paying for the boat tour, each visitors have to pay an entrance fee to Hashima island: 300 Yen/adult, 150 Yen/child

 

Book tour to Gunkanjima

Schedule

Gunkanjima Concierge Company offers two trips daily:

  • Morning tour: 9:40 am to 1:15 pm
  • Afternoon tour: 12:50 pm to 4:20 pm

Itinerary

Here is the agenda of 2 cruises. You can depart either from Nagasaki pier or from Iojima island.

Morning Cruise

  • 9:40 am meet up at Gunkanjima Concierge office
  • 10:30 am depart from the pier
  • 10:50 am arrive at Iojima
  • 10:55 am depart from Iojima
  • 11:15 am take a cruise around Battleship Island
  • 11:30 am explore Battleship Island
  • 12:20 pm leave from Battleship Island
  • 12:40 pm arrive at Iojima
  • 12:45 pm depart from Iojima
  • 1:15 pm back to the pier

Afternoon Cruise

  • 12:50 pm meet up at Gunkanjima Concierge office
  • 1:40 pm leave from the dock
  • 2:00 pm arrive at Iojima
  • 2:05 pm depart from Iojima
  • 2:25 pm cruise around Battleship Island
  • 2:35 pm explore Battleship Island
  • 3:25 pm leave from Battleship Island
  • 3:45 pm arrive at Iojima
  • 3:50 pm leave from Iojima
  • 4:20 pm back to the pier

How to book tour to Gunkanjima?

You can book Gunkanjima tour easily with Klook, a reliable and efficient online travel company. I’ve used Klook for several activities, so I recommend it.

The booking procedure is effortless.

Just by choosing the date and course then paying by credit card, you will receive the confirmation through email and get ready for your trip.

Please note that you will receive confirmation of your booking’s availability through your email within 2 business days.

 

Review of Gunkanjima tour

As we wanted to visit the Nagasaki museum in the morning, we opted in for the afternoon tour.

Tour day

After having lunch at Chinatown, we walked to the port at the meeting time stated in the email.

I was surprised that there was already a line of people waiting for the tour in front of the lounge. We had to fill in some papers about safety protocol and paid extra for the entrance ticket to the island.

how to book Gunkanjima boat tour

Departure

We got in the boat around 1:25 pm, and it departed shortly after that.

Gunkanjima tour review

The ship went through the Venus Wing Bridge, and we could see Takashima Island from a far distance.

Finally, Battleship Island appears.

We got to cruise around the island and see it from different angles. It was terrific and overwhelmed to see the ruins in person.

Landing time

We finally reached the Dolphin pier in Gunkanjima around 2:50 pm.

During the field trip, our guide explained lots of details about the buildings and life on the island. It was interesting to know that he used to live on this island as a kid.

Before the tour, I imagined that we could enter the island deeper, but we just got to see a small part of the island because of safety reasons.

why was Gunkanjima island abandoned

On the Observation area 1, we got to see the coal storage conveyor belt. The coal was transferred to the storage facility via this conveyor belt, and the braces of belt still survive today.

amazing buildings in Gunkanjima battleship island Japan
The braces of the conveyor belt (on the right) still survive today

things to do in Hashima Gunkanjima Battleship island Nagasaki Japan

places to visit in Hashima Gunkanjima Battleship island Nagasaki Japan

ruins in Hashima Gunkanjima Battleship island Nagasaki Japan

Gunkanjima Skyfall James Bond movie

is Gunkanjima safe to visit

Back to Nagasaki

After 40 minutes, we got back to our ship to get back Nagasaki.

On our way back, we got a chance to see some documentary about the island. It was interesting to see how life was on the battleship island and compared to the field trip that I just had.

Gunkanjima tour Nagasaki Japan

And here is Nagasaki harbor.

things to do in Nagasaki Japan

My thoughts on the tour

I felt like we spent most of the time on the cruise itself, not the island. It would be better if visitors were allowed to enter inside the buildings; however, I understood that it might be dangerous to do so.

The field trip was quite rushed, especially if you wanted to take lots of pictures and listened to the stories at the same time.

However, it was a fantastic experience that I’ve ever had. Seeing how nature affected man-built architecture through time was priceless.

Gunkanjima tour review

 

Places to stay in Nagasaki

I would recommend staying in Nagasaki during your trip because there are lots of things to do in this prefecture.

You can read reviews and check the availability of accommodation in Nagasaki with Booking.com.

 

Read more:

 

Note: We paid for our trip to Gunkanjima island, and the review above is based on our experience. As we have full rights for these images, it’s strictly prohibited to use the pictures in any circumstance.

Disclaimer: This article may contain affiliate links. We receive a small commission at no cost to you (usually with discount) when you make a purchase using some of the links. 

More Stories
best things to do in Beppu onsen Oita Japan
A Complete Guide to Explore Beppu Onsen Town in Oita Japan
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!