Jordy Meow/Wikipedia

This abandoned coal mine off of Nagasaki would be a wicked place to have a paintball match.

Of all the places to conduct a really wicked paintball match, Gunkanjima just about takes the cake.

Utterly abandoned, the former coal-mining site stands like a rotten tooth jutting from the turbulent waters off Nagasaki. A formidable seawall protects a dense warren of empty factory buildings and crumbling apartments. Roofs have blown off or caved in and walls have sloughed off their skins, leaving the skeletal underpinning of buildings visible. Dark hallways and dangerous, twisting staircases abound in M.C. Escherian complexity, leading to ruined vistas with names like "Block 65" and the "Stairway to Hell."

The government is pushing for World Heritage recognition for the island's role in the Meiji Era, characterized by a blitzkrieg push to industrialize the country using Western technology. The Gunkanjima mine, also known as Hashima or "Battleship Island," served as an underseas fuel-extractor beginning in the 1880s through 1974, when its owner, Mitsubishi, decided to close up shop. Milestones in its history include holding Japan's first nine-story concrete building and nurturing an incredible population density of 835 people per hectare, which is about nine times higher than New York City's present density. (Otaku take note: The island also served as a backdrop for Battle Royale II.) Today, it's densely populated with ocean birds and disturbingly large spiders.

Tourists can hop in a boat and motor out for sight-seeing around Gunkanjima, although they're not supposed to go deep into the failing structures. Some folks have ignored that, as you can see in these photos. For further information on the history of this incredible ghost town, go here; more photos are available here and here.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. The Cincinnati skyline and river
    Life

    Maps Reveal Where the Creative Class Is Growing

    “The rise of the rest” may soon become a reality as once-lagging cities see growth of creative class employment.

  2. A crowded street outside in Boston
    Life

    Surveillance Cameras Debunk the Bystander Effect

    A new study uses camera footage to track the frequency of bystander intervention in heated incidents in Amsterdam; Cape Town; and Lancaster, England.                            

  3. A migrant laborer rides a bicycle past a residential community in Shanghai.
    Equity

    When Affordable Housing in Shanghai Is a Bed in the Kitchen

    In this sector of the city’s informal housing rental market, as many as 24 people can be crammed into a three-bedroom apartment.

  4. Design

    A Hated Expansion of Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier Will Go Ahead

    The city council voted to approve an addition to the historic landmark over criticism that the design is “a travesty” and “frankly grotesque.”

  5. Design

    A First-Rate Waterfront Park Is Transforming a Historic Greek City

    Thessaloniki’s New Waterfront is the centerpiece in an effort to transform the local economy, and other cities are taking notice.

×