Hashima Island is one of the most eye-catching in all of Japan. It is not the typical island most people think of when they think about Japan. Most people will likely think of age-old Japanese temples and shrines with stunning Japanese gardens. Hashima Island stands apart from that and is a deserted island inhabited by ghosts.

CNN even termed it one of the "10 of the freakiest places around the world." Today there are preservation efforts to preserve the industrial history of Japan. One can decide for oneself if the island deserved to be on the list of creepiest places in the world. In Greece, there is also an abandoned monastery island where one can learn about the last monk to continue the old way of life in the fortress-monastery.

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What To Know About The Haunted Island

Hashima Island is also called Gunkanjima (meaning Battleship Island) and is located just 9 miles from the center of Nagasaki. The island has gone from an abandoned industrial eye-sore to a world-famous UNESCO-listed site. The island is dominated by its abandoned concrete buildings left crumpling and undisturbed by anyone except nature. And then there's the impressive sea wall ringing the island.

  • Location: 9 Miles From Nagasaki City Center
  • Established: In 1887
  • Peak Population: 5,259 In 1959
  • Abandoned: 1974

The population on the island peaked at 5,259 in 1959 but a few years later in 1974 the coal reserves around the island were nearing depletion and the mine closed. The island is tiny, so that meant the island was very cramped with only around 5 ft (1.5 m) of living space each.

After that, all its residents left leaving behind an abandoned island with scores of eye-catching buildings left to the elements.

Related: 10 Haunting Abandoned Island Ruins (& The Stories Behind Them)

Hashima Island Is A Haunted Tale Of Japan's Industrialization

The island was once a symbol of Japan's rapid industrialization - the island was known for its undersea coal mines established early on in the industrial development of Japan in 1887. On the darker side, it was also a site of forced labor before and during WW2.

In 1890 Mitsubishi bought the island and the island was soon caught up in Japan's fast-paced industrialization. The first concrete building appeared on the island in 1916. It was built 9 stories high and strong enough to protect against the typhoons that buffet this part of Japan.

The buildings were constructed by Chinese and Korean prisoners who were forced to work on the island from 1930 to the end of the war. The conditions were very bad and some never made it home - they nicknamed the island "Jail Island" or "Hell Island."

After the war, the Chinese and Korean laborers were replaced with Japanese workers.

UNESCO Listed And Tourist Destination

In the 2000s interest in the island re-emerged, and it soon became a tourist attraction. Some of the exterior walls that had collapsed were restored and tourists have been permitted to go to the island since April 22, 2009. It is now seen as part of the Japanese industrial heritage. It was World Heritage-listed in 2015 as part of Japan's Site of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining.

  • Opened To The Public: April 22, 2009
  • UNESCO Listed: The Coal Mine of the Island Was World Heritage Listed in 2015

At first, the Koreans opposed the island being UNESCO listed as they still remember the dark days of the past for their population on the island.

Related: 21 Surprising Pictures Of Deserted Resorts No One Would Dare Spend The Night In

Visiting The Island Today

Today the island is open to the public but one can only visit as part of a sanctioned group (unless one's a journalist). There is a concern about safety as many of the buildings on the island are crumbling and could collapse.

  • Solo Visiting: Is Not Permitted - One Must Be Part Of A Group Tour
  • Virtual Tours: A Number Of Websites Offer Free Virtual Tours

If one can't visit in person, then there are virtual tours online like the spooky noir virtual tour (free) with eerie music offered by Hashima-island.co.uk. Another website offering virtual (but less spooky) tours of the island is Arts and Culture.

One fun fact is that it was depicted in James Bond's "Skyfall" as the villain's lair. It is spooky enough to bring blockbuster sets from the other side of the world to film in its haunts.