Gunkanjima, the abandoned floating city

Few places like Gunkanjima exist in the world. Spread over an area of around 6 hectares, an entire city was built, now abandoned to the mercy of the waves and the winds. On this cruise, discover the incredible history of Gunkanjima.

Gunkanjima, an unusual island in Japan

There is a small island, unique in the world, about 20 kilometres off the coast of Nagasaki. Its real name is Hajima, but it is commonly called Gunkanjima or "the warship island" because of its shape which makes it look like a large military ship from a distance.

Formerly a coal mine, now a city on the sea

Gunkanjima was an uninhabited island until 1810, when a coal reserve was discovered. The industrial giant Mitsubishi bought the island from a feudal lord for next to nothing, and began mining the coal deposit. Workers were brought in and settled directly on the island. From a small village, Hajima quickly became a real town with its intricate streets and high buildings, due to the lack of space on the ground, and at its peak in 1959, it had more than 5,000 inhabitants. The island is only 480 metres long and 160 metres wide, so it became the most densely populated place in the world.

The life of the miners in Hajima

Although densely populated, life on the island of Hajima was not unbearable. It had all the facilities necessary for a comfortable (if somewhat cramped) life: a school, shops, a hospital, restaurants, vegetable gardens on the roofs of buildings, a cinema, etc... Every year, religious and cultural festivals took place to the enjoyment of the inhabitants. As the miners' salaries were high, it is even said that the islanders were on the cutting edge of fashion, and that the rate of televisions per household was the highest in Japan.

The dark side of its history

The working conditions in the mine, as in any mine, were however difficult and harsh. Hajima Island is also known to have hosted hundreds of Chinese and Korean prisoners of war during the Second World War who were forced to work in the mine. By 1974, the mine was no longer a profitable operation and the Mitsubishi Group abandoned the island. The inhabitants left and the island became abandoned. Since then, the island has become a place to visit for its surreal scenery, gaining recognition through its appearances in films such as "Attack of the Titans", or the James Bond movie "Skyfall".

A guided tour of the island by boat and on foot with a guide who was formerly a resident of the island

The history of this fascinating island will be explained to you on a boat trip to Gunkanjima.

Meet at 9:00 or 12:00 to first visit the Gunkanjima Digital Museum near the embarkation point (your ticket includes the museum visit). 40 to 50 minutes later, gather at the museum entrance, and depart by boat. The boat will take about 40-45 minutes to arrive near the island and then sail around it to see all the angles. You will then disembark on the island for a guided tour of the accessible areas, lasting about 1 hour.

The tour is given in Japanese by a former resident of the island. However an application to download on your phone will be available for explanations in English.

If you haven't had time to see the museum properly, you can return after getting back to Nagasaki.

Please note that there is an additional entrance fee to Gunkanjima, not included in the price, of ¥310 for adults and ¥150 for children aged 6 to 12.

An unmissable moment of history and humanity if you go to Nagasaki.

Location


Gunkanjima, the abandoned floating city

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