Lonely Planet Writer

Photographer captures stunning images of Battleship Island, an abandoned coal-mining settlement off the coast of Nagasaki

A photographer has shared a series of striking images that offer viewers an intriguing look at the ruins of Hashima Island, a former deep sea coal-mining settlement located approximately 20 kilometres off the coast of Nagasaki in Japan.

Nicknamed Gunkanjima, or “Battleship Island” in English due to its unique shape, the former thriving industrial commune was initially set up in the late 1800’s before being purchased by the Mitsubishi Corporation.

At one time the 16-acre island was home to over 5000 people, with labourers and their families living there permanently. The island was abandoned in 1974 when Japan was making the switch to petroleum energy. It also drew controversy during its time due to the fact that forced labourers worked on the site during WWII.

The images were taken by Irish photographer James Gabriel Martin, and show the island in a state of ruin following years of exposure to adverse weather conditions at sea such as typhoons. The photographs show wild flowers and long grass sprouting up amongst the crumbled remains of buildings, with Japanese hawks circling overhead.

Hashima Island was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2015, and in recent times, has become an extremely popular tourist destination, with companies offering cruises and sightseeing trips to the island.

The island was even featured in the 2012 James Bond film “Skyfall”, acting as the headquarters of villain Raoul Silva.

Derelict buildings on the abandoned Hashima Island off the coast of Nagasaki. Image by James Gabriel Martin
Derelict buildings on the abandoned Hashima Island off the coast of Nagasaki. Image by James Gabriel Martin
Black kites circling over a building on Hashima Island. Image by James Gabriel Martin
Black kites circling over a building on Hashima Island. Image by James Gabriel Martin
Grass growing amongst the ruins of buildings on Battleship Island. Image by James Gabriel Martin
Grass growing amongst the ruins of buildings on Battleship Island. Image by James Gabriel Martin
Hashima is also known as Gunkanjima, or Battleship Island due to its shape. Image by James Gabriel Martin
Hashima is also known as Gunkanjima, or Battleship Island due to its shape. Image by James Gabriel Martin
The site was once a thriving industrial community but was abandoned in the 1970's. Image by James Gabriel Martin
The site was once a thriving industrial community but was abandoned in the 1970's. Image by James Gabriel Martin
An original red arch has been preserved with steel beams holding it up. Image by James Gabriel Martin
An original red arch has been preserved with steel beams holding it up. Image by James Gabriel Martin
The island was featured in a scene in the 2012 Bond film, "Skyfall". Image by James Gabriel Martin
The island was featured in a scene in the 2012 Bond film, "Skyfall". Image by James Gabriel Martin
The site has since become a popular tourist destination, with companies offering cruises to the island. Image by James Gabriel Martin
The site has since become a popular tourist destination, with companies offering cruises to the island. Image by James Gabriel Martin
People can often be spotted fishing off the outer perimeter walls of the island in the daytime. Image by James Gabriel Martin
People can often be spotted fishing off the outer perimeter walls of the island in the daytime. Image by James Gabriel Martin