Gunkanjima Travel Guide

A 20th-century ghost town covering an entire small island — there’s nowhere else quite like this in all of Japan.

Just a short trip from the port of Nagasaki City, this abandoned island once housed a community of 5000 workers and their families, all packed within a bizarrely small space. The Japanese name “Gunkanjima” translates to “Battleship Island,” on account of total urbanization leaving it looking like a warship at sea.

Since 1974, the mine which drew these workers in has been closed, and the island has since emptied out completely. Nowadays, it has a decidedly haunted look about it, which is why it was chosen as the lair for the villain in the James Bond movie Skyfall.

Although you won’t be allowed to bring your silenced pistol or armored Aston Martin along, tours can be taken to the island ever since a purpose-built boat dock was added in 2009. The trip takes about 50 minutes, after which you’ll alight on a fully-fledged ghost town (complete with crumbling buildings so dangerous that you’re not allowed to get too close).

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