Gunkanjima is a coal mine designated as a World Heritage Site in 2015. Hashima, a small island located in the west of the Nagasaki Peninsula, used to be an undersea coal mine and residential area. It was mined from 1891 to 1974 and had over 5,300 inhabitants in its heyday. After its closure, it has been attracting attention as a filming location, and in recent years, 007 Skyfall and Attack on Titan have been shooted. I watched a documentary in preparation for this Gunkanjima tour.
(8) Access to Gunkanjima, Battleship Island.
Takashimamachi, Nagasaki, 851-1315
As of 2022, there are five companies that offer Gunkanjima cruises. After comparing the companies, we decided without hesitation to go with Yamasa Kaiun. The large sailing ship “Kanko Maru” anchored at the port is operated by Yamasa Kaiun. That's all I needed to know to make the decision. This one must be a large and long-established company.
In addition, it is also a big benefit that the tour leaves and returns to the port the earliest. Perfect for people like us who want to save time but still want to do good sightseeing. (Some cruise companies extend the tour time in order to make a detour to other ports to pick up more guests.)
You can book online and there is an early booking discount. The ship departs at 9:00, so you should complete boarding procedures at the Nagasaki Port Terminal Building around 8:30. After breakfast buffet at the Comfort Hotel Nagasaki, I checked out. I loft the car parked in the hotel-affiliated parking lot near the port and went on the cruise tour.
There are reception desks for each cruise company in the terminal, but only Yamasa Kaiun is open at this early morningtime. We need to sign a pledge and carry out boarding procedures. Signing a pledge sounds like a big deal, but the content is only common-sense stuff, such as "Do not enter restricted areas, do not litter, follow the tour guide instructions."
(9) Battleship Island Cruise by Yamasa Kaiun Shipping Co.
It's time to board. Our tour is scheduled for between 9:00-11:30. Yamasa Kaiun seems to have two ships for Gunkanjima cruise, and we are about to get on the ship called "Marbella". We are under a corona situation, so there aren't many guests. This ship can host more than 200 people, but this time it's probably about 40 people. When I made an online reservation, the afternoon cruises were almost fully booked. Apparently, groups of tourists such as school trips often take afternoon cruises. Probably, it is a little too early to come to the port at 8:30 for a big group.
The ship has an indoor first floor and an open terrace on the second floor. Of course, I went to the 2nd floor with a nice view. Tour instructors (seafarers) of Yamasa Kaiun are preparing to depart. Looking at their trained movements and ship equipment, I thought I made the right choice by choosing this tour company.
Even while cruising from Nagasaki Port to Gunkanjima island, we were very busy with lots of things to see. The onboard announcements taught us where to look and what they are, so we didn't miss anything.
The first thing you should see is the Mitsubishi Nagasaki Shipyards' giant cantilever crane. (Green crane on the right side of the picture) A huge crane imported from Europe in 1907 and still in use. It is one of the World Heritage Sites registered with UNESCO, and is one of the constituent lists of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution Sites.
After the crane, I was able to see two huge ships. They have a national flag on it, and I'm pretty sure it's for the Japanese Self-Defense Forces. It's a rare chance to see it so close, so I couldn't keep my eyes off it. I don't know if these ships were just built or laid up for maintenance. It's a national defense secret, so maybe they won't tell me even if I ask.
When you pass through this Megami Bridge, the sea becomes quite open. Ships that do sightseeing cruises in the bay make a U-turn here.
Immediately after passing the Megami Ohashi Bridge, you can see the Kaminoshima Church and the statue of Mary.
Until now, all the things to see were on the right side of the direction of travel, but this time it's on the left side. There is Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 1 million ton dock that made the battleship "Musashi". It was reported in the news in 2021 that it was sold to Oshima Shipbuilding.
When you pass through another bridge, Iojima Ohashi Bridge, you can hardly see the city of Nagasaki. Looking at the direction of travel, there are two islands. The color of the island in the back is clearly different from the other islands. The whole island is concrete color. That's the World Cultural Heritage, Gunkanjima (Battleship Island)!
I look for the pier, filled with anticipation. Eh? Where do we enter this island?
Please visit my glass jewelry shop from the link below.