During Japan’s industrialization period in 1890, the company Mitsubishi purchased Hashima (端島), a small island off the southwestern coast of Japan, as a mining site for undersea coal repositories. As the industry expanded, the island’s population of workers and their families grew, leading Mitsubishi to create large concrete apartment blocks to house them. When viewed from afar, the silhouettes of the apartments on the island resemble a 1920s imperial battleship, earning Hashima its nickname, “Battleship Island” (軍艦島).
In the 1960s petroleum came to replace coal as a dominant fuel source in Japan, and in 1974 the mine was closed. With no industry to support it, the island was quickly abandoned and has remained that way ever since. The eerie atmosphere and well-preserved concrete structures continue to spark the imagination of photographers and filmmakers alike, most recently serving as the inspiration for the villain Silva’s island lair in the 2012 James Bond film, Skyfall.
Though travel to the island is largely restricted for safety reasons, a few intrepid Instagrammers have made the voyage to explore and document the forgotten city.