Hashima Island (Border Island) is among 505 uninhabited islands in the Nagasaki Prefecture of Japan and about 15 kilometers from Nagasaki itself. This island is also known as “Gunkan-jima” or Battleship Island thanks to its high sea walls. Everything started in 1890 when a company called Mitsubishi bought the island and began a project to retrieve coal from the bottom of the sea. In 1916 they were forced to build Japan’s first large concrete building on the island, a block of apartments that would both accommodate workers and protect them from hurricanes.
Population had swelled in 1959, and boasted a density of 835 people per hectare for the whole island (1,391 per hectare for the residential district). It was one of the highest population densities ever recorded worldwide. Since petroleum replaced coal in Japan in the 1960’s, coal mines began shutting down all over the country, and Hashima’s mines were no exception. Mitsubishi officially announced the closing of the mine in 1974, and today it is empty and bare, with travel currently prohibited. This island was the location for the 2003 film ‘Battle Royale II’ and inspired the final level of popular Asian videogame ‘Killer7’.
Yashima is an impressive plateau to the northeast of Takamatsu, the second largest city on Shikoku which is one of Japan’s major islands. It stretches out to sea and this site is the place of a famous battle that took place on 22nd March 1185 during the Genpei War. The peak of Yashima hosts the Yashima Temple, which is a well-known Shikoku pilgrimage. It is the only thing that does draw crowds to this strangely neglected geographical anomaly, but it wasn’t always so.
In mid-eighties’, the people of Takamatsu decided that the plateau was an excellent place to encourage tourism, so took to pouring money into developing this sacred land. There were built 6 hotels, along with many parks and trails - even an aquarium. But somewhere along the line people undestood that Yashima plateau wasn’t so such an attractive opportunity, especially with views of the nearby rock quarry. Visitor numbers dropped and millions of Yen were lost on inflated real-estate deals; all the hotels and shops were forced to shut down, as was the cable car that at one point transported many to Yashima’s heights.