The Royal County Arbiter

25 April 2005

Warship Island and ruined Japan

Photographer Shibakoen Koutarou is a fearless explorer of Japanese ruins. When Japan's economic bubble burst, a large number of buildings, leisure parks and amenities – built during the boom years – were forced into closure. Many were not demolished, but simply deserted. People walked away from fully operational amusement parks, resorts and schools, never to return. Ruins Deflation Spiral (or Haikyo Defure Supairaru) charts Shibakoen’s explorations of what Japan has abandoned.

Most fascinating is the case of Hashima.

The island of Hashima – also known as "Warship Island" because of the striking resemblance – lies off the coast of Nagasaki prefecture. In its day, the island was home to over 5,300 residents, employees of Mitsubishi Mining and their families. Mining stopped in 1974, and the island was abruptly abandoned. Houses, apartments, shops, restaurants, and schools were all left behind, along with the mines and factories.

Shibakoen is not alone in his interest in Hashima:

A former resident of the island is campaigning for it to be designated a World Heritage site. His homepage features photos of the island in former times.

Blogger Kurt Easterwood presents a thought-provoking article about Hashima and its history: Gunkanshima and ruined lives.

Brian Burke-Gaffney’s Hashima: The Ghost Island is a detailed essay on the story of the island.

Access to the island is strictly limited, so don't expect to be able to hop over and snoop around next time you're in Nagasaki. However, as Shibakoen proves, other ruins abound if you look hard enough.


Anonymous routard:

I have a comment :)

Blueprint magazine ran a feature on abandoned places and this is where I came to hear of Warship Island amongst others. However my mind jumped to an album by Japanese fella 'Joseph Nothing' who drew his inspiration from an abandoned theme park and I just thought I’d mention it.

How many albums about places can you come up with?

3:48 pm  
Anonymous routard:

the answer is of course, two.

'We make money not art' recently ran a feature abandoned theme parks, did you see it?

I'm a bit annoyed that I've just come back from Berlin and read there was one I could have been exploring.

I like the rusted and flaking white glossed rollercoaster rails, they look like a snake devoured by piranhas. I don't know if your school used to show you nature films but that's one of the few childhood memories I have, a snake's skeleton drifting through the murky Amazonian waters to its final resting place in the silt.

4:52 am  
Blogger Tim Lazyhour:

Does "State Songs" by John Linnell count?

5:47 pm  

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