“These days the only things that land on Hashima Island are the shits of passing seagulls.” This is how VICE described the desolate Japanese wasteland back in 2009.
But seagulls (and their waste) are not the only visitors anymore: the island is now also home to Raoul Silva, James Bond’s nemesis in Skyfall. Silva uses the vacant island as his hideout, plotting Bond’s destruction from its empty concrete skeletons. But Hashima wasn’t always so empty—exactly the opposite, in fact.
Once the most densely populated city on earth, with a whopping 13,000 people per square kilometer, this island off the coast of southern Japan has been untouched ever since the population vacated in 1974 when coal mining—the source of employment for the island’s inhabitants—fell to the wayside. Mitsubishi Motors, who owned the premises, laid off their entire workforce in one fell swoop. Hashima Island’s residents packed up and fled to the mainland immediately in hopes of jobs elsewhere.
What once was a bustling community vanished overnight.