A Trip through Japanâ€™s Creepy Ghost Towns
With cities as crowded and lively as Tokyo, itâ€™s hard to imagine there are any ghost towns in Japan. But the Land of the Rising Sun has quite a few abandoned settlements, all well worth a visit, especially if you like quiet, creepy places.
Located on Shikoku, one of the major islands of Japan, Yashima is an abandoned tourist resort that was supposed to draw tourists to the area. After all, this is one of the most important pilgrimage sites on Shikoku, with the Yashima Temple rising up at the top of the plateau. Itâ€™s also where a very important battle took place during the Genpei War, in 1185.
Unfortunately things didnâ€™t quite go according to plan. The economy was surging during the 1980s and entrepreneurs around Takamatsu thought it would be a good idea to invest in tourism and capitalize on the areaâ€™s spiritual reputation. They built six hotels, many other theme parks and even an aquarium.
Business was good for a while, but, somewhere along the way people realized there wasnâ€™t much to see in Yashima, so they stopped coming here. The resortâ€™s hotels and gift-shops had to be shut down, and the investors, who had already lost millions of Yen, simply abandoned the project.
Many of the hotel rooms look untouched and some of the tourist shops have their merchandise carefully arranged, making it look like their owners had to leave in a hurry, thus adding to the place eeriness.
Now just a shadow of its former glory, the mining town of Ashio was once one of the most technologically advanced settlements in Asia. During the 1880s, in the Meiji era, Ashio was the first town on the continent to produce hydroelectric power and serve up a telephone network.
Despite practically leading Japan through the industrial revolution, Ashio collapsed after the mining-plantâ€™s workers revolted. They werenâ€™t even paid enough to survive, so, during the cold winter of 1907, they rose against the mineâ€™s owners. There was an accident at the copper-plant that turned into one of Japanâ€™s greatest environmental disasters. The nearby rivers were polluted, killing the entire fish population and the rice-crops of the Kanto Plane were compromised.
The town was abandoned soon after and it has gained the nickname of â€œJapanâ€™s Grand Canyonâ€ because of the lack of vegetation on the surrounding hills. There are many technological devices to discover in the abandoned facilities and you can even go through the eerie houses, if youâ€™re up to it.
Also known as Gunkanjima (Battleship Island) or the Ghost Island, Hashima looks like a Japanese Alcatraz, located near Japanâ€™s coast, in the Nagasaki Prefecture.
Once the place with the highest population density on Earth, Hashima is now one of the most interesting ghost towns you can find. During the late 19th century, Mitsubishi bought this island and decided to use it for coal extraction in the area. Workers were brought in, and in 1959, there were 5,259 people on Hashima Island, 1,391 per hectare. Some believe that is the highest density ever encountered.
But, as petroleum became more popular in Japan, coal mines were shut down all over the country and, in 1974 Mitsubishi announced it was shutting down the plants at Hashima. Since then, it was closed to the public, rotting away behind its giant concrete walls. On April 22, 2009, Ghost Island was finally opened for public travel.