Jobless in Japan – Day 8/9 – Nagasaki and Gunkanjima

Travel

Today is day 8-9 and I have surpassed a third of my jobless holiday. It has been great to be honest. Despite having withdrawal symptoms – I am feeling better now. To have time to think about life. Two things in my mind for sure – I wish I had travelled more when I was younger and I am wish I am much fitter. Not that current fitness level is stopping me for doing anything, but being fitter will allow me to do more!

Back to My holiday. Nagasaki is a port town. Back during the Shogunate era, Nagasaki is the only port that was opened to foreigners. In fact only to the Dutch. That’s why when you walk around Nagasaki – you do see a lot of Dutch influences. This is way before the English and American started coming.

Observing how the population works, I think the town is more of a trading town. There are not much of professionals around (like bankers and such). Well this could be because I am not staying at the posh area.

During my visit here, there were two major things that I visited and learnt. Gunkanjima(or Hashima) and Atomic Bomb.

 

Gunkanjima Island

Gunkanjima Island is an island off Nagasaki. About 18 km over super choppy sea. It was made famous by James Bond movie Skyfall. This island used to be a coal mine. Founded in the late 1800s, it was during the hype of industrialization in Japan. The island was operated by Mitsubishi Heavy Industry. This company has a lot of history in Nagasaki. In fact if I am not wrong it was started by Tokugawa Shogunate before it was handed over to the government and made independent. As you look outside from the speedboat out – can see many Mitsubishi logo. More for the heavy industries.

When I first got into the island, I thought that the reason it was abandoned was because some major incident like nuclear spill or something. The look of the island itself make it so eerie! But after knowing that the reason the island was abandoned was because initially the Japanese government policy in the mid 60s was to change for coal to petroleum based energy. As it got closer to 1974 – the coal got depleted and union basically used this reason as the reason why the mine/island was shut down. Pretty lucky buggers. At peak – the mine “hosted” almost 5000 people and was said to be the most populous place in the world!

The trip to the island cost JPY4300 in which JPY300 was for the landing whilst JPY4000 was for the boat ride. Ideally the boat ride is reserved well in advanced at this site . For me because I couldn’t get my credit card transaction to pass thru, I walked over to their office at the port after I checked in to the hotel. I was lucky enough that my hotel was only about 1km walk to their office(which is right in front of their jetty).

Note that if the condition of the sea is too rough, the boat might not be able to land on the island. When this happens, the company will refund JPY300 which is the ticket to land.

I took the morning tour. The office opens at 940 where I had to register and sign all the waiver form. After that about 10am went to the boat itself. I was warned that the sea condition is rough and might not be able to land. After the boat left the jetty – honestly I didn’t really care whether the boat land or not. I was more concern about getting myself back onto land in one piece. Look at the video below. Crazy shit!! I am just impressed that I did not get any sea sick!

 

Here are the set of photos that I took of the island. I wish I could walk nearer to the ruins. Those areas were off limits due to safety reasons.

 

Nagasaki Atomic Bomb

Nagasaki was bombed by Americans on 9th August 1945. This was the second bomb that was dropped by the American. Based on what I read, the Bomb was supposed to hit another city but due to cloudy conditions, it was changed to Nagasaki. Not long after the bombing – Japan surrendered and the Allied occupation of Japan started.

The Bomb that was dropped caused almost 200k people died and injured, with a lot more lost their homes. The impact of the bomb was almost 6km. Sad indeed. When I was at the memorial, I could feel the impact of the bomb. In fact I prayed that no other Atomic bomb will ever be dropped in this world.

I did not managed to go to the museum as it was closed but when I got there. I wanted to see first hand photos of the bomb. There weren’t a lot of it at the memorial. When I was there – there were at least 4 separate school trips. I could see the teachers explaining to the kids what had happened. And in the end all of them did some sort of prayers.

Here are some of my street shoots 🙂

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