Japan’s Abandoned Hashima Island Has a Terrifying History

Hashima Island is one of Japan’s most popular tourist destinations, but this modern-day ghost town has a sordid past that only recently became known to its many visitors. After Hashima Island became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the organization encouraged the Japanese Government to spread awareness about the island’s history of forced labor. So where did everything go wrong? Somewhere a long the line, Hashima Island went from being the most populated place on the planet to having zero residents. And it happened practically overnight. All that’s left today are the prison-like concrete buildings and the alleged ghosts of the tortured spirits that forever haunt its mine shafts.

You Won’t Get To Hashima Island On Your Own

Richard Atrero de Guzman/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Richard Atrero de Guzman/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Hashima Island, better known as Gunkanjima, has long been forgotten. This tiny speck of battleship-shaped land rests just off the coast of Japan, but the only way to visit is by boat. It takes less than an hour to get there from Nagasaki, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a way in if you’re flying solo.

The truth is, you can’t get to Hashima Island on your own. The buildings are in shambles, at risk of crumbling at any minute. The government mandates when tourists can and cannot visit. A number of companies do offer group tours, but you won’t be able to navigate the territory by yourself unless you’re a journalist or member of the media who are granted an exception.