Recognize this island? If you’ve seen the new 007 Skyfall then this island will look familiar to you because it is the island that inspired the villain’s lair in the film.
Hashima Island is located off the southeastern coast of Japan and was once an island crammed with thousands of people who were mining for coal for Mitsubishi between 1887 and 1974. The tiny 16 acre island reached a peak of 5,259 people in 1959… that means there were roughly 328 people living on each acre of available land! At one point, this island became the world’s most densely populated cities in the world. Everything a city needed to function was there on the little piece of land… a school, grocery stores, apartments, a temple, etc…
In the 60’s petroleum began replacing coal, which lead many companies to shut down its mines. Hashima was not excluded from this shift and by 1974, Mitsubishi officially closed this manufacturing island. Workers were offered jobs on the mainland on a first come first serve basis causing everyone to abandon the lives they had formed on Hashima faster than the speed of light. This resulted in the ghost town that can be seen today if one visited the island. Swedish filmmakers, CM von Hausswolff and Thomas Nordanstad, made a couple versions of short films on this island… one simply shows still images of various structures on the island and the other allows us to tour the island with an ex-inhabitant.
The environment of today’s Hashima provided the appropriate mood and setting for the new James Bond film. However, when one digs into the island’s past, the glamour and the fantasy is quickly erased, and is replaced by eerie, melancholic emotions for the people who once thrived there but were abruptly displaced by the needs of a large corporation.