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Hashima: Abandoned city

November 17, 2012

The story of Hashima Island is an interesting, albeit eerie one. The island’s reference in Bond’s Skyfall has drawn it into the public eye again, but for many decades the island has sat off the coast of Japan, abandoned and decaying under the power of the winds and seas.

When Mitsubishi Motors bought the island in 1890, they launched a project to mine coal from under the sea bed. The burgeoning population of workers lead to the construction of Japan’s first concrete building in 1916 (9-stories high and made of reinforced concrete to prevent typhoon damage). The construction of concrete buildings on the tiny island continued to boom even before and during WWII to keep pace with the demand for coal. Many Koreans and Chinese were forcibly recruited by the government to live and work at Hashima, and many died in the process from mining conditions, malnutrition, and exhaustion.

The population on Hashima peaked in 1959 with over 5,000 inhabitants. With the total island area being only about 15 acres, there were about 1,391 people living per hectare in the residential area, which equates to about a square meter and a half per person.

In the late 1960s, petroleum became the energy source of preference and coal mines all over Japan began shutting down. It spelled the end for Hashima. In January, 1974 Mitsubishi shut down Hashima and by April, the last resident was gone. Since then, the island has sat all but abandoned. These images give kind of an eerie look into what an urbanized, dense environment looks like years after inhabitants have moved on.

photo via

photo Carl Michael von Hausswolff via

photo Michael Gakuran via

photo Michael Gakuran via

Read more about the island’s history here.

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