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Apocalyptic Cool

Into the apocalypse look?

Might you be then the macabre type fascinated by science fiction fantasies of being one of the unlikely survivors of a decaying human society? If you answered, “yes”, than its time you see the Japanese island of Hashima.

Located about 15 kms from Nagasaki, the coral island was once major Japanese mine owned and operated by Mitsubishi until its abandonment in 1974. Starting in the late 19th century, coal was mined directly from the East China Sea floor through almost 200 meter shafts.

The structures you see here in the accompanying photographs include the first ever Japanese concrete building; an apartment block and precursor to urban housing developments worldwide.

Reaching a peak population of 5259 in 1959, the island is believed to have had one of the highest population densities ever recorded on Earth, an astounding 835 people per hectare of the Hashima’s 6.3 total hectares. A sobering statistic, considering Japan’s current most densely populated city, Warabi, tops out at 141 people per hectare.

If you’re like me then you have no idea how big a hectare is. Think of it like this. Fighting for space along the mine’s facilities and housing, were a primary school, junior high school, playground, gymnasium, pinball parlor, movie theater, bars, restaurants, twenty-five different retail shops, hospital, hairdresser, Buddhist temple, Shinto Shrine and even a brothel. All of that on an island that took less time to walk across then it does to smoke a cigarette.

And now it’s empty. And eerie. And you can go there…soon. Hashima will be reopened to the public sometime in 2008. Just in time for you to shoot that post-apocalyptic sci fi thriller.

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