SNOW Magazine puts the industrial ruins on this forgotten Nagasaki island into a wider historical perspective
The island Gunkanjima looks even more dramatic taken from a toy camera. (Photo by Flickr user Ishida Naoki)
Gunkanjima ("Battleship Island") -- the common nickname for Hashima island off of Nagasaki -- is possibly the most epic haikyo (ruins) site in Japan. The island housed a Mitsubishi coal mining plant from 1887 to 1974, but is now completely abandoned, making it both an incredibly creepy tourist attraction and a great backdrop for post-apocalyptic films. Since 2009, tourists have been allowed to go to the island, but with the old concrete buildings sometimes collapsing, there are significant safety issues that Nagasaki's government is trying to deal with.
Over at SNOW Magazine, graphic designer PMKFA puts the island into more perspective. In essence, a changing global energy culture -- the emergence of cheap oil in the Middle East -- made the island's underwater coal less valuable, so Mitsubishi shut the entire island down. There went a little piece of floating history.
The author, however, also makes another crucial point before we get too weepy: Yes, this thing seems cool as a tourist attraction, but it must have been hell to live inside of a coal-plant in the middle of the ocean. Some jobs were lost, but maybe the workers found better digs back on the mainland that did not smell like carbon.
If you have to go check out the island, read up on travelling to Gunkanjima here.