Tuesday, October 14, 2014


I am fascinated with abandoned places or haikyo in Japanese. These places project mystery and intrigue that photographers and explorers could not resist. I and my friends have been planning of exploring haikyo in Japan but it did not materialize.  Either we didn't have the time to plan carefully or just too afraid to admit that we are scared,
Haikyo is the Japanese word for ruin (廃墟), obviously composed of廃 (hai = useless, obsolete) and 墟 (kyo = hill) – used as a synonym for both urban exploration and abandoned places. more here.
I have been reading blogs about haikyo in Japan but never had the chance to join any of the haikyo groups. The exact location of the places listed on the blogs are omitted most of the time.  However, there is this abandoned place that is often mentioned as one the must-see haikyo in the world, the Gunkajima Island also known as Hashima Island or the Battleship Island.


the waves stop humming
salty air turns lavender
i am not alone

The Gunkanjima Island is recently featured in the latest James Bond movie - Skyfall. The island was abandoned by the residents since 1974. And since I want to know more about the island, I decided to join a boat tour [Black Diamond] when I was in Nagasaki. The tour costs 3,400 yen including a brief history presentation of the island and a quick tour to the museum holding the tools and other stuff used in the island during the early years.


The main part of the tour is the actual visit to the said island. It's a 10 minute boat ride from Takashima (or 30 minutes boat ride from Nagasaki Port). I was very excited since this will be my first haikyo and it's considered as one of the most popular in the world.


As expected, the island is on the gloomy side. I think the ruins are in constant communication with the waves after the tourists leave the island considering its isolation from the main city. 

Quoting some of the facts of the island -
The island was populated from 1887 to 1974 as a coal mining facility. It is known for its coal mines and their operation during the industrialization of Japan. Mitsubishi bought the island in 1890 and began the project, the aim of which was extracting coal from undersea mines. more here


I was slightly disappointed with the tour because of its restriction since I really wanted to go inside the ruins and explore more a bit of it.  There is only a limited area for the tourist to stay and take photos.  Though I understand that safety of everyone is the main priority.


Initially I thought of having the photos of this entry in black and white but decided it to retain the colors. In that way, I can make it appear more closer to reality though having it monotone set the mood and the atmosphere of the subject. 


Maybe someday, all areas of the island will be open to the public. If that happens, I will be one of the first to sign-up. Until now, I am dying to see the other parts of the island or I should be more adventurous and try to go with other haikyoists



  1. Sugoii ! ! ! ! ! :P

  2. Medyo creepy when you think about it.

  3. Awesome - your photography tells an eeiry tale. Would love to know what ghosts lurk about that island...

  4. it's eerie but they said no ghost can be found here...

  5. I too feel the past lives when near or in in ruins--actually in most places, though I rarely meet specific ghosts. Just knowing you are not alone sets this poem. I enjoyed the realism, too--photographs often stay on the surface of things.

    1. I used to see things which I thought was scary but during my visit to Gunkanjima, I didn't feel / see strange phenomenon.

  6. What a beautiful post - always good not to feel alone....wherever we home or in ruins

  7. i absolutely love the pics!!! the haiku describes loss or death. very nice!!!

  8. Fantastic photos, thanks for giving us a glimpse at a place most of us will never see. So much history. I like the line "I am not alone". One walks in footsteps of those who walked there long before. Cool.

    1. Thanks Sherry, it was a struggle to go there but feels good. Especially I have been reading about the place long time ago.

  9. Interesting photos...cant say i would ever want to visit there....looks kind of spooky. Like the Spring Cherry blossom aspect of Japan.

  10. Totomai,

    A fascinating perspective on the ruins of past times, which are still there to be viewed. A wonderful photographic opportunity to share with Poets United. Thank you for the spirit of enhancing my knowledge and thoughts about these buildings, in future.
    I appreciated your comments at my blog poem very much.

    1. My pleasure Eileen and thanks for coming here too

  11. I wouldn't like a place like this - but I do very much like your beautiful haiku!

  12. Thanks Rosemary - sometimes it's good to be on this place...


any thoughts to distill?

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