Since the 2000s, Gunkanjima has begun to attract attention again.
Gunkanjima turned into ruins after the mine was closed, and most of the coalmining facilities have collapsed. However, the plants that have multiplied due to the tree-planting campaign also propagate in places that were not luxuriant before the closure. There is no archetype of an island without greenery, and you can see landscapes that cannot be created artificially.
In addition, household appliances such as “the three status symbols”—televisions, washing machines, and refrigerators—and children’s toys are left behind on the island as they were. Gunkanjima was under the control of Mitsubishi, so it was already 100% electrified at the time of the first home appliance boom in the 1950s. However, the islanders left their old-fashioned televisions as they were, rather than being burdened with them, and these tell the story of island life in the 1970s throughout the island.
Gunkanjima, which became a desert island as it was at the time, was officially transferred to Takashima-cho in 2001 from its previous owner, the Mitsubishi Materials Corporation (formerly Mitsubishi Mining). Later, the town become Nagasaki City’s property because it was incorporated into Nagasaki City.
In 2003, approximately 30 years after the mine was closed, the NPO “Association for putting Gunkanjima on a World Heritage list” was launched. In 2007, an application for listing was submitted to the Agency for Cultural Affairs, and the results of the deliberation were received once, but a new application was made the following year. As a result, it was added to the provisional list of World Heritage in 2009 as part of the modernization industrial heritage group of Kyushu and Yamaguchi. After that, a tour facility was set up, and in April of the same year, general passengers could land in parts of Gunkanjima.
Before landing became possible in some parts, entry to the island was banned for a long time because there were many dangerous places due to the aging and deterioration of the buildings. However, Gunkanjima is starting to receive more and more attention due to a booming interest in ruins and the organization of landing tours of the island in the same period.
In 2015, it was registered as a World Heritage Site along with 23 facilities in Fukuoka, Yamaguchi, and other prefectures as the Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining. In addition, it received a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for 2017 in 2017. Gunkanjima has entered a new period in its history.
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