Post-apocalyptic tourism in Gunkanjima, Japan


Are you a fan of all the post-apocalyptic culture out there? I mean we are drowning in books, tv shows and movies about what happens at the end of the world as we see it, be it zombies, no electricity, vampires or simply a human scheme. I am obsessed with the books and my husband watches The Walking Dead slavishly, so when we visited Japan we were keen on doing some real-life post-apocalyptic tourism.

In comes Gunkanjima.


Gunkanjima is an island outside of Nagasaki. Over 100 years ago they found coal, and Mitsubishi started a coal mine. They added and added to the island and built houses, swimming pools and whatnot there. At one time 5000 people lived on the island and it was the most densely populated area in the world, but in 1974 they stopped the coal production and the island was abandoned and left to the force of nature.

On a grey morning we took the car to Nagasaki, parked and walked to the boat terminal. That was a mistake. There are two boat companies taking people out there and only one leaves from the terminal. Not ours. After a brisk morning run we arrived at the boat refreshed and ready to count Bond references. The island made an appearance in the last Bond movie, so we assumed there would be plenty. Safe to say we were right.


Once there we were met by quite a few birds of prey. It was odd looking at these hollow buildings that were constantly circled by birds. My main concern was what they were hunting.


And from there it just continued… It’s odd how much buildings can break down in just 40 years.

You can’t walk freely around the island as many of the buildings isn’t that steady anymore. You walk on a prepped path with three viewing platforms where the guide tells you (in Japanese) about the island. We got these really nifty leaflets which included the basic information about the island.

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Around the island are large walls. After this island is open sea, so they’re definitely needed. Up on the wall sat a fisherman perched, just lounging in the cold, windy afternoon.


And of course – there was a swimming pool there as well!


Then it was time to head home. It was an eerie experience and I even got a little philosophical at the end.


4000 Yen per person

Site (warning, site all in English)


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