Gunkanjima is an island in Nagasaki prefecture. The whole island was purchased by Mitsubishi in 1890 because coal was found under the sea in that area. Gunkanjima (軍艦島) could be translated as “battleship island”; that is because the island shape reminds you of a battleship.
At the beginning the island was inhabited by a few thousands of workers, but its population kept growing until it became the most densely populated place in the world. In 1959 it reached 85,500 inhabitants per km² in the whole island, and 135,000 inhabitants per km² in the most densely populated area of the island; which is one of the highest population densities ever recorded in the history of humanity. Apartments, cinemas, arcades, casinos, swimming pools, supermarkets… were built to serve the population of Gunkanjima.
In 1974 the coal was exhausted and Mitsubishi officially announced the closing of the mine. Nowadays it is a ghost island, nobody has ever lived there since 1975. It was the most densely populated area in the world and suddenly it became uninhabited!
In 2002 Mitsubishi decided to donate the island to the city of Nagasaki and since 2009 certain parts of the island can be visited (before that the access to the island was limited to historians and journalists). The round-trip ferry from the port of Nagasaki costs 4500 yen. I am really looking forward to going to Kyushu, where I still haven’t been, to visit Gunkanjima and record a video like the one we recorded in an abandoned hospital in Tokyo.!