Art Directory India

The Battle Ship Island


Located around 9 miles away from the coast of Nagasaki, in southern Japan, lies an island quite eerie. Named Gunkanjima (Japanese for Battleship Island) or Hashima for short, this island was once booming with life, boasting of around 2,500 inhabitants. The island was initially used for coal-mining, once coal was found upon the island. Japan started a spree of rapid industrialisation in order to catch up with and maybe possibly over-come western industrial powers. The island even boasts of being the location for the first large concrete buildings, providing housing for many of the miners and their families. With the increase in labour, more building popped up to accommodate the families. Soon schools, hospitals, theatres, community centres and many such buildings followed.
However, soon arrived a point in time where petroleum overtook coal. In addition to this, the coal reserves on the island were soon depleted. This led to the Japanese government shutting down the island, in the 1960’s. The island was officially shut down in the year 1974. The inhabitants soon followed and left the island, shifting to either mainland Japan or the other islands under Japans rule. Nature soon took residence, claiming the buildings and mines for its own accommodation. Years later, in around 2000’s, the island once again garnered attention, mainly of those fascinated with ruins. More specifically, with undisturbed historic dilapidated buildings. Hashima now stands alone with crumbled architecture and corroded infrastructure.
The island holds a plethora of harsh truths. The harsh climate of the island proved to make it difficult for the inhabitants. Additionally, or more importantly, the island holds a dark sober secret. Until the end of the Second World War, captured Korean and Chinese civilians and prisoners of war were enslaved and forced to work at the island in the mines. These civilians faced the harsh climate and an even harsher treatment. Malnutrition, punishment and even torture led to the demise of many of the enslaved inhabitants. It has been estimated that over 1,000 captured prisoners of war met their death on the island.
In the year 2009, the Japanese government opened the gates to the island, advertising it as a tourist attraction to those with similar interests in either the ruins or the history of the island. The island was marketed as the pride of the country, proof of the attempts of Japan and industrialising itself. This was all done whilst hiding the truths of the harsh treatment of the Chinese and Korean Civilians. In the year 2015, the island was declared an UNESCO world heritage site. This decision rose up after a lot of controversies. When initially applied to be made a heritage site, Japan chose to hide the fact about the enslavement. Korea thus opposed to the decision of the island being made a heritage site. Soon after, Japan and Korea came to an understanding wherein Japan acknowledged the claims made by Korea and promised to let the facts be known at the island.
Now, the island receives tourists annually. The islands main attractions are the abandoned and eerie buildings, the sea-wall and its overall history. Guankanjima was often depicted and spoken about in various forms of media. The island became a location for the Live-action movie Attack of the Titans and most famously, the James Bond Movie, Skyfall. Most importantly, the island serves as a reminder, that no matter how technologically advanced the human civilisation might get, nature can always co-exist, if not overtake.

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