In the 5 km offshore of Nagasaki, there is a small island called "Ikeshima" which used to flourish with its coal mine. Speaking of the island with a coal mine, Hashima also in Nagasaki, aka "Gunkan-jima Hashima (Warship Island) " is famous. While the mine of Hashima was closed in 1974, this Ikeshima mine was closed in 2001 and had been open until the very beginning of the 21st century.
Some people are still living on the island of Ikeshima. But, I wonder how the island would be without the industry. Surprisingly, a peculiar view was also spread there.
T Saito is reporting local stories of the Kyushu region from Nagasaki. Born in Tsukuba-shi of Ibaraki prefecture in 1971. Moved to and lived in Nagasaki since 2001.
This photo was taken in 2006.
Second time after 7 years
About 7 years ago from now, I had visited the island once in April 2006.
I headed straight from the harbor to the coal mine facility by bus at that time. I noticed various points in the scenery from the bus, but I was not able to stroll around the island freely as I was on a package tour.
I want to walk around without no purposes this time. The only thing I have to do is to have a contact with Mr. Kojima (mentioned later) who lives in Ikeshima.
By taking this ship. The building behind the ship is a hotel & a waiting room for a ferry & a city hall branch office. A fishing rod was leaning against the wall in the waiting room.
Access to the Island
There are ships to Ikeshima from 2 locations, Oseto Port and Konoura Port. I took a ship departing from Konoura Port this time. The capacity is 15 people. It takes about 15 minutes. The one-way fee is 350 yen. We tend to brace ourselves for when we hear an isolated island, but this island was easy to go more than expected.
There tend to be 3 ships a day to some isolated islands depending on the islands, but in terms of Ikeshima there are 7 ferries, which can accommodate a car, per day, and there are 7 ships, some are local connecting ships and some are high speed vessels, per day. This means there are fairy plenty numbers (please refer here). But when the waves are high, the local connecting and high speed ships cannot go.
Inside the ship. Enter inside and suddenly there is a wheelhouse. Behind it, there is a space where you can take your shoes off and sit down.
Here are passenger seats. Exciting! I bump into such a lot of small topics every time I go to an isolated islands.
After about 15 minutes, I arrived in Ikeshima.
A good looking guy appears.
When I arrive in the island, Mr. Kenichi Kojima who lives in Ikeshima welcomed me. We have emailed each other beforehand, and this was the first time we actually met. I was wondering how this person was, but I was surprised to meet this cool good looking guy.
He really lives in this small island, and his name is Mr. Kenichi Kojima, and Kojima in Chinese characters means a small island.
Mr. Kojime had moved to this island in October 2011 from the Kanto region. When he was in Kanto, he had activities called "Otona no Shakaika Kengaku (social studies and field trips for adults)", and he had published a book and hosted events.
Currently, as a member of the "economic development of the area projects' cooperation corps" of Nagasaki Administrative Center, he is doing some PR activities as well as historical survey of Ikeshima.
I thought it was really interesting to find out that he came from the metropolitan to the isolated island and it was different, so I asked about it.
He answered, "I have Amazon and SNS, so it was not as different as it seems".
Actually, when I had moved to Nagasaki from Kanto, it was just the time when Amazon.co.jp was opened on the internet, and I had rarely felt any inconveniences thanks to that.
By the way, some online shops have exceptions of the postage for 'isolated islands', but they can deliver items to Ikeshima as normal.
There are really a lot of cats. I saw cats more than humans in Ikeshima.
Cats are hiding here and there. (2 cats on the picture above)
The reason why Mr. Kojima became interested in Ikeshima was the article that I wrote. (I am happy to know that my article had affected the life of someone I do not know far away from me)
After the article, he joined the coal mine tour that I had reported, and he visited the island several times, and he applied for the "economic development of the area projects' cooperation corps". He really hesitated to apply just before the deadline.
I surely understand that. I am sure that he needed lots of courage to come here by leaving everything of his comfortable life in the metropolitan area.
The scenery in front of the port.
The whole island is a coal factory
When you arrive at the port, what you see instantly is this kind of factory facilities. It looks like you are walking inside a factory!
A machine to load coals to the ship,
Facilities such as thermal power generation. None of them are currently running, and they are ruined.
The distance between the living environment and the ruins are really close. (Attention to the road shown on the left)
This is just the beginning as the ruins zone of the island.
It is not something like this ahead, but in order. First, let's start looking at the current living environment of the island.
The sign is handwritten!
The first is the only shop of the island "Minato Shopping Center". Surprisingly, I found a standing bar there!
Once upon a time, coal miners used to go there frequently. It is still there from the old days. Like it!
This is also the Kojima's favorite spot, and they installed Wi-Fi so that they can drink while doing internet.
On the other side of the standing bar, there is the only supermarket on the island. I can by snacks there. Like it too!
The shop has any kinds. Mr. Kojima, of course, purchase foods there.
Here, Ichiro is still in Orix, and Tsunku is still in Sharam Q.
The only place to eat in the island
I also found a place to eat.
The name is "Kaachan no Mise (Mom's shop)".
There should have a lot of shops in this building before. There is only one which is "Kaachan no Mise" now.
This is the mom.
The menu has Champon (Nagasaki specialty noodles), curry, udon, rice with some ingredients on top, and so on.
Toruco Rice (also specialty menu of Nagasaki. It was named after Turkey, but it is not Turkish food) was also there!
Interiors like a parents' home.
This is the isolated island.
I was surprised that I could eat the Toruco Rice.
Mr. Kojima recommends Champon.
Cats are watching inside the shop.
There is also an accommodation facility.
In many of such isolated islands, a lot of things are missing there, but here on this island, I was surprised to know that most of things are available. There are 2 public baths.
Well, the warship island was flourished with the coal mine, and once had boasted the population density more than Tokyo (which means the most in the world); and likewise Ikeshima had as much as 8,000 people lived in this small island at most. It was a kind of a special island.
Many isolated islands have no public transportation, but here buses are running.
The bus had a fare box too.
The only company of the island.
In Ikeshima, there is one recycle company now, and it is the only industry of the island.
There is no one who does fishing normally popular on other islands in general. So you cannot eat fishes, and if you want to, you call the fishery association of Konoura Port, and they will bring fishes if you pay for the fish & transportation costs. (Perhaps really good fishes.)
However, I heard that the island is good for fishing, so you can fish on your own.
Post Office and Administrative Center Office.
231 inhabitants. It used to be 8,000 at most, so it is now less than 3%.
- 450 inhabitants
- 10 elementary school students, 7 junior high school students
- Barber comes 3 times a week from the main island
- 1 police officer
are written there. But currently,
- 231 inhabitants
- 7 elementary school & junior high school students
- Barber comes twice a week
- No police officer
The depopulation has progressed for 7 years.
Elementary school and junior high school. In this huge school building, there are only seven students.
And according to Mr. Kojima, he has an impression that the actual inhabitants are less than the number. Some can live in the island on the resident's card, but they actually live somewhere else.
So, next we will go the island of the dark side.
What happens if the inhabitants of 7,000 disappear from 8,000 people.
Huge dwellings have been left there.
These are the ruins of unmanned. I can doubt what I see. I feel like I am wandering into the world of Sci-Fi.
There is also a building that is inhabited since this is not certainly a deserted island.
These pipes can be seen all over the island. The steam made from the thermal power plant used to have been distributed in this. This also has created a unique landscape.
8-story buildings are lined there. Also, all these are ruins.
Used to be the main street
This street used to be a main street where a lot of shops are lined up.
There was also a building almost about to collapse.
Used to be a street with pubs
There was also a street which used to be with pubs.
I heard there is still one pub open today.
(I would like to stop by when I come next time to stay overnight.)
This used to be a Pachinko place.
This used to be an inn.
There was a bowling place surprisingly.
There were also a mah-jongg parlor and a snack. Of course, all in a past tense.
As Hashima (Warship Island) was closed in 1974 and became a deserted island. I wonder if this island would be a deserted island too?
I wonder it would be the "necessary island" which had finished the role?
When looking to concentrate on just the ruins zone where people do not live, this makes me to feel that way.
I wonder if there would be the day when people recall today as the "once humanity flourished era"...?
For example, as a result of the population decreased in the progress of declining birth rates, Shinjuku today would be like this? Or, we could see the Statue of Liverty buried in the coast, and find out that it was actually New York. Is there such the punch line?
So the scenery made me think of such a SF imagination. It had that impact on me.
The Warship Island has become a popular tourist spot since the opening of a possible landing. If you like the warship island, you would surely like this island too. To put it in an Amazon style, this is "also recommended".
I thought it was the "Statue of Liberty".
Current coal mine technical training center
I came to the coal mine technical training center.
After the coal mine closure, it had become the base to teach the coal mine technology abroad. When I visited seven years ago, I had received a description of the coal mine, and had eaten lunch. But it was closed now.
Mr. Kojima said they were teaching by visiting abroad now.
The plate is broken, and it had become dilapidated atmosphere.
April 2006. (If compared, characters written are different)
The entrance which used to have the smell of workforces
is now in this condition. (There seemed to have some construction works)
The entrance to the coal mine.
7 years ago, we could go in to the mine, but it is now closed and I could not go inside. It is said that there are some rules in various ways, such as to process so as not to for a person to enter after closure by law.
The coal mine tour is now also possible, and if you book in advance, the tour can go from a group of 2 people. (⇒ Reference)
Riding a battery locomotive near the harbor, and I could go in a coal mine from another entrance. However, although I could go to 130 meters below the sea level, but you cannot that far now.
Battery locomotive. This takes you to the coal mine. it looks more comfortable inside than the one I got.
The entrance to the mine now.
To the Coast
I came to the coast.
I heard that coal is falling to the side, and I could find one easily.
Coal! It was light when I held it. (I took it back home and showed it to my child, and I was asked 'meteorite?'.)
There was a slope man-made with debris.
Almost Castle in the Sky
A huge machine that had finished its role was standing by the sea.
The machine is to put the coal on the belt conveyor.
This is also broken and does not work anymore.
It is called " Jib Loader "and it is so amazing modeling
Is it a kind of an art?
It is completely an art.
Hill Overlooking the Island
So I saw the island of the dark side (so-called ruins) to the full extent, but I was not feeling dark by looking at them. Rather, I could feel more possibilities in various ways.
I was guided to the hill overlooking the island, the highest hill of the island.
Most of them are ruins, and only a part of the buildings are still used.
As they are not used, it means that there are possibilities. Also, the ruins themselves can have some values.
In Nagasaki, islands with coal mines, Iojima was closed in 1972, and Takashima was closed in 1986. Those islands are currently in the direction of tourism and fisheries. (it seems). The warship island became an uninhabited island, which is contrarily popular among tourists.