Hashima Island (端島, or Hashima - -Shima is a Japanese suffix for island), commonly called Gunkanjima (軍艦島; meaning Battleship Island), is one among 505 uninhabited islands in Nagasaki Prefecture about 15 kilometers (9 miles) from Nagasaki itself. The island was populated from 1887 to 1974 as a coal mining facility. The island's most notable features are the abandoned and undisturbed concrete apartment buildings and the surrounding sea wall. The island has been administered as part of Nagasaki city since the merger of the former town of Takashima in 2005.
On August 23, 2005, landing was permitted to journalists only. The scene of the ruined locations on the island was broadcast in the media. Originally, Nagasaki City planned restoration of a pier for the prospective tourist landing in April 2008. In addition, a 220-metre (722 foot) long visitor walkway was planned (entrance to unsafe building areas was to be prohibited).
Due to the delay in development construction, however, in the end of 2007, the city announced that public access was delayed for approximately one year up until spring 2009. However, the city faced safety concerns, regarding the risk of collapse of the buildings on the island due to significant aging.
Because of the harsh weather, it was estimated that landing would only be feasible for fewer than 160 days per year. From a cost-effectiveness point of view, the city considered relinquishment of plans to extend the visitor walkway further for an approximate 300 metres (984 feet) toward the eastern part of the island and approximately 190 meters (623 feet) toward the western part of the island after 2009.
World Heritage Registration:
A non-profit organization, "The Way to World Heritage Gunkanjima" (represented by Doutoku Sakamoto), has proposed that Gunkanjima island be designated a UNESCO World Heritage site as one of The Modern Industrial Heritage Sites in Kyushu and Yamaguchi. The process leading to designating the property as a World Heritage Site includes: preparation of the nomination letter attesting the value of the property; a field investigation, after the property nomination, by the Japanese government, which is submitted to UNESCO; discussion of the proposal by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.
The representatives of six prefectures and 11 cities, including Yuichiro Ito, Governor of Kagoshima Prefecture, and Genjiro Kaneko, Governor of Nagasaki Prefecture, jointly submitted to the Agency for Cultural Affairs a proposal for addition of the "Modern Industrial Heritage Sites in Kyushu and Yamaguchi" to the Japan's tentative candidate list for World Heritage nomination. In August 2006, the Ministry of Economics, Trade and Industry decided to support the World Heritage designation proposal in an attempt to promote the utilization of the Meiji-Era industrial heritage, including Hashima, as tourism resources in the Kyushu and Yamaguchi region.
When people resided on the island, the Nomo Shosen line serviced the island from Nagasaki Port via Ioujima Island and Takashima Island. In 1970, 12 round trip services were available per day. It took 50 minutes to travel from the island to Nagasaki. After all residents left the island, the direct route was discontinued.
Currently, sightseeing boat trips around the island are provided by two operators; Yamasa-Kaiun from Nagasaki Port, Kyodo Co. from Nomo Island. As of April 22, 2009, the island is open once again for public visits, with Yamasa Kaiun providing transportation to the island from Nagasaki.