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July 29, 2016 - Hashima - Nagasaki Prefecture
Hashima Island or Gunkanjima is a small but previously heavily populated island located around 50 minutes from Nagasaki by fast speed boat. It's also turned into a rather popular tourist attraction as many people think that a certain scene from a James Bond movie was shot here - but it was actually only inspired by here.
As only one boat can dock at the island at a time - the number of people who can visit Hashima Island is rather limited. There are 3 or 4 different companies who normally both have 2 dockings a day - but reservations are highly recommended. I booked online two nights before for a morning tour and it cost 3,900 yen per person (with 300 yen entrance included in the cost.
After about 30 minutes on the boat - we make a short stop on Takashima Island which is located just across from Hashima Island. Apart from a toilet stop and a location to buy drinks - you come here for a small museum that discussing Gunkanjima island. Do note that the explanations when I visited were mostly in Japanese.
At one point - over 5000 people lived on Hashima Island which used to be home to an underground coal mine. As the island is quite small and the conditions of living on the island was quite harsh - there are some interesting stories and artefacts about living on the island.
Once you re-board the boat, it takes around 10 minutes to get to Hashima Island. Do note that if the waves are large or it's windy then there is a good chance that you cannot get onto the island itself.
As you can see - the trip towards the island is quite interesting. You see this island filled with apartment buildings from the distance which is rather unexpected.
Due to the fact Mitsubishi who owned the mine decided to close it in 1974 - the island has been totally uninhabited since. This means that the ravages of time along with typhoons have left it's mark on the island and its buildings.
Once you get onto the island - there is a walkway where some of the guides tell you about the history of the island and you can take some closer photos. Do note that you are NOT ALLOWED off the walkway period! You also cannot bring kids under 5 due to safety. The area with more buildings is away from where the walkway is but it's rathe interesting nonetheless.
As most of the tourists are Japanese the majority congregate around a speaker and another smaller group of mainly Chinese speakers (ironically not from mainland China) are in another group with a man explaining in Japanese and very basic English.
For me - this worked out great as I'm not really a fan of listening to long talks about history so I could take photos between the two groups. One thing which should be noted is that Chinese and Korean forced labour used to be used on the island but this has not been fully acknowledged (at least for the Koreans I think).
In total your on the island for around 30-40 minutes which is plenty of time to take photos and stretch your legs. Do note that there are no amenities on the island itself.
For me the boat ride around Nagasaki Harbour was almost as enjoyable as visiting Hashima Island. Do note that this takes around 3-4 hours in total and we got back to Nagasaki Port around 12PM which still gave me the rest of the day to look at the main sites in Nagasaki's Southern section later in the day.