Around a World Heritage Site: The Gunkanjima Guide [Complete Edition] » The history of Gunkanjima

The history of Hashima Island(Gunkanjima)

The beginning: The Edo period to the Meiji period

Gunkanjima in the Meiji period
Gunkanjima in the Meiji periodImage source for Meiji-period Gunkanjima: The Nagasaki City official tourist site “At-Nagasaki”
1810 The discovery of coal
1887 The opening of the first shaft
1890 Mitsubishi bought the Hashima Coalmine from Magorokuro Nabeshima for ¥100,000 and it came to be managed by Mitsubishi as a branch mine of Takashima.
1891 Coal extraction was started.
Water distilling equipment was installed, drinking water was supplied to every household, and salt was also produced.
1893 Work started on drilling the second shaft.
An opening ceremony was held by the Mitsubishi Corporation for a private (company) ordinary primary school.
1895 The opening of the second shaft
1896 The old third shaft was completed.
1897 The first landfill operation was conducted.
An underground fire occurred in the first shaft.
The pit was abandoned due to flooding caused by the fire-fighting operations.
1899 The second landfill operation was conducted.
1900 The third landfill operation was conducted.
1901 The fourth landfill operation was conducted.
1907年 The fifth landfill operation was conducted.
1911 A combination of steam and electricity was used to power the hoists used in the second and third shafts.

Find out more about the beginning of Gunkanjima (the Meiji period to the Taisho period)

The heyday: The Taisho period to around 1964

Population density on Gunkanjima
Photo courtesy of the Gunkanjima Digital Museum
1916 The Osaka Asahi Shimbun reported that Hashima resembled a giant battleship with two chimneys.
Construction of Building No. 30, Japan’s oldest reinforced-concrete apartment building, was completed.
1917 The first submarine cable was laid between Futago and Hashima and power transmission was started.
1918 Construction of nine-story reinforced-concrete apartment buildings to provide company housing for day laborers
Switching power from steam to electricity was almost complete.
1921 The Nagasaki Nichinichi Shimbun coined the name Gunkanjima (Battleship Island), noticing that the island resembled the Battleship Tosa.
1922 A landing pier (crane type) was completed.
1925 The fourth shaft (370 m deep) was completed.
1933 The pier was converted into a steel-framed loading pier.
1934 Excavation of the second shaft was completed to reach a depth of 636 m.
1934 The third shaft was decommissioned.
1935 A company kindergarten was opened on the roof of Building No. 20.
1936 Hashima Shrine was built.
The second shaft started operation.
Electric trolley trains started operating at the bottom of the second shaft.
1941 Annual coal output reached 411,000 tons, a record high.
1942 A fire occurred at the mouth of the second shaft.
1944 The Patriotic Dormitory (Building No. 65) was erected.
1945 The Hakuju Maru was sunk when it was loading coal.
The galleries in the second shaft were flooded.
1947 Public phones were installed.
1949 Hashima was presented nationwide in a movie called “An Island without Greenery.”
1953 Construction of the Takahama Village Hashima Nursery School was completed.
1954 The first phase of construction of the Hashima Dolphin Pier was completed.
1955 Takahama-mura Hashima and Takashima-cho were merged to form Takashima-cho Hashima.
1956 Typhon No. 9 occurred.
The Dolphin Pier, the southern wharf, and the Hashima swimming pool were destroyed.
1957 The building of the Hashima Elementary School and Hashima Junior High School burned down.
The Hashima hospital and company housing No. 65 burned down as the fire spread.
Construction of the Hashima Elementary School and Hashima Junior High School was completed.
Construction of submarine waterworks was completed.
The water supply ship Asagao Maru was decommissioned.
1958 Restoration of the Hashima hospital was completed.
Construction of the Hashima South Swimming Pool was completed and a swimming meet was held.
Construction of the second phase of the Hashima Dolphin Pier was completed.
1959 Typhoon No. 14 occurred.
The Dolphin Pier, the plantation pier, and the revetment walls were severely damaged.
1961 The Tsuya Maru and the Sei Maru entered service.
1962 Construction of the third phase of the Hashima Dolphin Pier was completed.
The yugao Maru was scrapped.
1963 A tree-planting campaign was started.
1964 Construction of a Hashima community center was completed.

Find out more about the heyday of Gunkanjima (the Taisho period to the Showa period)

The decline: From about 1965 to 1974

The Dolphin Pier
Photo courtesy of the Gunkanjima Digital Museum
1970 Construction was completed of the gymnastic hall, martial arts room, and school kitchen of the Hashima Elementary School and Junior High School.
1973 A disastrous fire occurred.
1974 The Hashima mine was closed.
Closing ceremonies were held for the Hashima branch, other facilities, and the Hashima Elementary School and Junior High School.
Closing ceremonies were held for the Hashima branch, other facilities, and the Hashima Elementary School and Junior High School.
1975 The Japan Coast Guard installed the Hizen Hashima Lighthouse.

Find out more about the closure of the Gunkanjima mine (the late Showa period)

Present day

Present-day Gunkanjima
2001 The Mitsubishi Materials Corporation donated Hashima to Takashima-cho.
2014 The site of the Takashima Coalmine became a national designated historic site.
2015 Gunkanjima was registered as a World Heritage Site.

Find out more about Present-day Hashima Island(Gunkanjima)

In many cases, it is impossible to land due to sea conditions and bad weather. However, with the cooperation of the Gunkanjima Concierge, which boasts a high landing rate of 94.7% (*), we present a report on the landing tour that we participated in. We will acquaint you with all the charms of Gunkanjima, not to mention the highlights of the tour!

※Landing results from 2011 to 2018