Google Street View Maps Gunkanjima, The Freaky Abandoned Island That Inspired Skyfall
If you’ve seen 007 : Skyfall then we’re sure you must have noticed the eerie island where Raoul Silva operated from. Well, now you can take a virtual tour of that island, called Gunkanjima (Japanese for Battleship Island, due to it’s resemblance) thanks to Google.
Gunkanjima is one among 505 uninhabited islands in Nagasaki Prefecture about 15 kilometers (9 miles) from Nagasaki itself. 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 retrieving coal from undersea mines. They built Japan’s first large concrete building (9 stories high), a block of apartments in 1916 to accommodate their burgeoning ranks of workers.
Concrete was specifically used to protect against typhoondestruction. In 1959, the 6.3-hectare (16-acre) island’s population reached its peak of 5,259, with a population density of 835 people perhectare (83,500 people/km2, 216,264 people per square mile) for the whole island, or 1,391 per hectare (139,100 people/km2) for the residential district.
As petroleum replaced coal in Japan in the 1960s, coal mines began shutting down all over the country, and Hashima’s mines were no exception. Mitsubishi officially announced the closing of the mine in 1974, and today it is empty and bare, which is why it is called Ghost Island. Travel to Hashima was re-opened on April 22, 2009 after 35 years of closure.
Despite being off-limits to travellers, the island has become an irresistible magnet for urban explorers who go to extraordinary lengths to investigate and photograph the island’s abandoned buildings.
Google is giving users 360° panoramas of Battleship Island, and some of the imagery collected with the Google Trekker goes beyond the cordoned-off areas for tourists and into paths that are off-limits. It still remains illegal to venture inside the city’s walls, meaning urban explorers must go to great lengths to covertly trespass the island.
The crew of Skyfall couldn’t film on the island itself due to its dangerous state of disrepair, so production designer Dennis Gassner visited the island instead and recreated a section at Pinewood Studio in the UK, with other parts rendered digitally.
You can watch the video below.
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