Abandoned Hashima City: Island Inspiration for James Bond Movie ‘Skyfall’

January 14th, 2013 Permalink

This abandoned island with crumbling concrete buildings was the inspiration for the evil dude’s hacking headquarters in the latest James Bond movie Skyfall. Yes, hacking, cyberwar and an abandoned island city are all parts of ‘Skyfall. It was too dangerous here to truly film the secret lair of a 007 villain, so it was reproduced to “make everything real.” Hashima Island, also called Gunkanjima meaning Battleship Island, is Japan’s ultimate industrial ruins ghost town. The island was bought by Mitsubishi in 1890 to mine undersea coal. It was the first place that Japan built large concrete buildings up to 9 stories high, and was constructed to withstand the destructive forces of a typhoon. The island at one point had a population of 5,259, but that did not last. 39 years after it was abandoned virtually overnight, time and nature are winning the battle. Considered creepy by some with all the trappings of home but no people, some folks started to call the abandoned island, ‘Ghost Island.’ Folks interested in history or legal urbex are pleased that portions of Hashima reopened to tourists in 2009. This is the first ‘lost city’ in modern times and with the James Bond movie Skyfall, the infamous island has become even more famous. [35 Photos, 3 Videos]

Stairway To Hell, Gunkanjima, James Bond Skyfall villain hacking headquarters

This Stairway To Hell on abandoned Hashima led to a temple. The climb was reportedly “hellishly” steep. Hacking, cyberwar and an abandoned island city are all featured in the James Bond movie Skyfall. There is a hacking hideout for the villain Raoul Silva and that crumbling city in the film was based on abandoned Hashima off the coast of Japan. Photo #1 by Jordy Theiller

Aerial view of Battleship Island, Gunkanjima, abandoned island in James Bond Skyfall

Aerial view of ‘Battleship Island,’ another name for the No Man’s Land that is Hashima Island. It is but one of 505 uninhabited islands in the Nagasaki Prefecture nearly 9 miles (15 kilometers) from Nagasaki, Japan. Photo #2 by kntrty


Hashima Island, also called Gunkanjima meaning Battleship Island, is Japan's ultimate industrial ruins ghost town, abandoned island in James Bond Skyfall

Hashima Island, also called Gunkanjima meaning Battleship Island, is Japan’s ultimate industrial ruins ghost town. From 1887 to 1974, it operated a coal mine project with the goal of retrieving coal from undersea mines. Mitsubishi bought the island in 1890 and built Japan’s first 9-story high concrete building. Photo #3 by ThomStoodley

Approaching Gunkanjima, Battleship Island, island in ruins from James Bond Skyfall

Approaching Gunkanjima, Battleship Island. While Hashima has long been popular for urbex, a renewed international interest was sparked when the James Bond movie Skyfall reproduced portions of the island as the hacking headquarters for a villain up against 007. Photo #4 by Stuart Frisby

Gunkanjima, abandoned island in James Bond Skyfall

The hideout in the movie Skyfall is referred to as the Dead City off the coast of Macau, but Hashima is located near Nagasaki in Japan. The newest James Bond flick was not even filmed on Hashima. Instead it was recreated at Pinewood Studios in Great Britain and the rest was created using CGI. But these images are the real Hashima industrial ruins. Photo #5 by Stuart Frisby

Nagasaki Hashima Island (端島) Gunkajima, the industrial ruins from James Bond movie Skyfall

This island that looks like it was hit by a bomb goes by many names. After Mitsubishi officially closed the coal mine in 1974, the island sat empty and bare which is why it is sometimes referred to as Ghost Island. Whatever you call this No Man’s Land, nature is trying hard to reclaim it. Photo #6 by Ronald Woan

Abandoned Island from James Bond movie Skyfall

Gunkanjima has been open to the public since April 2009. Photo #7 by Sergio Rozas

Nagasaki City and Gunkanjima, abandoned island made even more famous by James Bond movie Skyfall

Nagasaki City and Gunkanjima. Photo #8 by Marisoleta

Lost Island Gunkanjima, the model for hacking headquarters in Skyfall

Female walking along rich vegetation. Photo #9 by Roger Walch

Gunkanjima island, inspiration for the lair of villain Raoul Silva in Skyfall

Gunkanjima island still has much life, although none of it is human. Photo #10 by Kenta Mabuchi

SKYFALL – Official Trailer. Video #1 by SonyPictures

Ocean view to Hashima

Ocean view to Hashima. According to one former worker’s story,”I was one of two boys forced onto a truck in my village and taken to the government office, where several thousand other Koreans ranging in age from about fourteen to twenty had been gathered. After a night at an inn, we were taken by truck to a nearby city, then by train to the port at Pusan and ship from Pusan to Shimonoseki. About 300 members of the group, including myself, were then taken by train to Nagasaki, where we arrived the following morning. All of us were being sent to Hashima.” Photo #11 by Stefan the Cameraman

Hashima Island provided the inspiration for villain's lair in Skyfall

Suh Jung-woo, a surviving laborer, had hoped to escape, but lost all hope upon seeing Hashima. He continued, “The island was surrounded by high concrete walls, and there was ocean, nothing but ocean, all around. It was crowded with concrete buildings as high as nine stories. … We Koreans were lodged in buildings on the edge of the island. Seven or eight of us were put together in a tiny room, giving each person no more than a few feet of space.” Photo #12 by Junichi suzuki

Inside Battleship Island, Skyfall abandoned James Bond island

Inside Battleship Island. Suh Jung-woo added,”The mine was deep under the sea, the workers reaching it by elevator down a long narrow shaft. The coal was carried out from a spacious underground chamber, but the digging places were so small that we had to crouch down to work. It was excruciating, exhausting labor. Gas collected in the tunnels, and the rock ceilings and walls threatened to collapse at any minute. I was convinced that I would never leave the island alive. 4 to 5 workers in fact died every month in accidents. Modern concepts of safety were nonexistent. The corpses were cremated on Nakanoshima, the little island beside Hashima.” Photo #13 by Yasunari(康就) Nakamura(中村)

Ghost Island, aka abandoned Hashima, inspiration for hacking hideout in Skyfall

Before that day when coal was replaced by oil, back in 1959, Hashima reached its peak population of 5,259. The island was beyond crowded. Wikipedia states that the population density was 835 people per hectare (83,500 people/km2, 216,264 people per square mile) for the whole island, or 1,391 per hectare (139,100 people/km2) for the residential district. Photo #14 by Hey I Abandoned That

Nagasaki Hashima Island (端島) Gunkajima Ruins

The Skyfall filmmakers couldn’t film on Hashima. The Japan Times reported, “Typhoons have worn the concrete tenements down to a dangerous state of disrepair, and even the most intrepid stuntman would balk at running down halls that could cave in several stories at any moment. Instead, production designer Dennis Gassner visited the island and oversaw construction of an impressive facsimile at the 007-dedicated stage at Pinewood Studio (U.K.) for the scene where Silva forces Bond to do some target practice on a captive.” Photo #15 by Ronald Woan

Nagasaki Hashima shack viewing over the island, Skyfall inspiration hacking and abandoned island

Nagasaki Hashima shack that is viewing over the remains of the island. Cabinet Magazine reported, “By the time the atomic bomb rattled the windows on Hashima apartment blocks and Japan surrendered to the Allied forces in August 1945, about 1,300 laborers had died on the island, some in underground accidents, others of illnesses related to exhaustion and malnutrition. Still others had chosen a quicker, less gruesome death by jumping over the sea-wall and trying in vain to swim to the mainland.” Photo #16 by Hisagi (氷鷺)

Nagasaki Hashima Island (端島) Gunkajima, inspiration for hacking headquarters of a 007 villain

Hashima was featured in the History Channel’s “Life After People” in 2009 during the first season episode “The Bodies Left Behind” and showcased the decay of concrete buildings after only 35 years of abandonment. In 2011, the island was again featured in Forgotten Planet; it mentioned the “unauthorized photo shoots by urban explorers.” Regarding Skyfall, Sam Mendes told Film Journal, “The basis for the movie is ‘Make everything real, and then supplement it with visual effects.’ So you (feel) it was real and in a sense it was, because it’s three-dimensional.” Photo #17 by Ronald Woan

Gunkanjima Sea Barrier gives Hashima appearance of battleship, thus Battleship Island nickname

Gunkanjima Sea Barrier. The high sea walls were completed around 1907, making it appear from a distance as if the island were a battleship riding the waves. A Japanese newspaper reporter dubbed it Gunkanjima (Battleship Island) and the nickname stuck with the public and soon replaced the official name. Photo #18 by Stuart Frisby

Love graffiti and leaky roof at Hashima, James Bond Skyfall ruined island

Love graffiti and leaky roof at Hashima. Photo #19 by Motohiro Sunouchi

Hashima Island Ruined Building, mocked in Skyfall for villain Raoul Silva crumbling micro-city

Since the release of Dr. No in 1963, the Bond film franchise and MI6 have now tackled cyberwar. “It’s a brave new world,” gadget-maker Q tells James Bond in the new film ‘Skyfall.’ The new film, released on the 50th anniversary of the storied franchise, presents a gadget-free Bond fighting with both brains and brawn against a high-tech villain with computer prowess Bill Gates would be envious of. What inspired such a villain? Stuxnet,” reported Fox. Photo #21 by skyeslee

Gunkanjima Pillars, Skyfall fans looking for a taste of super-villain should visit Hashima

Gunkanjima Pillars. Photo #22 by Sergio Rozas

Hashima Island 端島(軍艦島)Destroyed Wall

Since the abandoned island was not been maintained, several buildings have collapsed. Other existing buildings are crumbling, but some of the collapsed exterior walls have been restored with concrete. Photo #23 by mittyoi

Hashima Stairway, industrial ruins inspired lair for hacking genius in James Bond Skyfall

In 2002, Mitsubishi Material voluntarily transferred to Takashima town which was absorbed by Nagasaki city in 2005. Only a small portion of the island is “safe” enough to be open to tourists. Photo #24 by Stefan the Cameraman

Nature reclaiming Hashima Island apartments

Gunkanjima Sea Side Close Up. When Mitsubishi closed the mine and fired its workers, Hashima “depopulated overnight, making it modernity’s first lost city.” Nature reclaiming Hashima Island apartments Photo #25 by Hashima Island

Hashima Island Skyfall James Bond

Peeking through the broken barrier. Photo #26 by Σ64

軍艦島 Battleship Island

Battleship Island cannot withstand the test of time. Photo #27 by Kinako Kocteau

Graffiti inside Gunkanjima, abandoned island from Skyfall 007 movie

Graffiti inside Gunkanjima. Photo #28 by The H.I.A.T.

Piano wreckage at Hashima

Forever silent, wrecked piano. Photo #29 by The H.I.A.T.

Stagnate water at Battleship Island, James Bond Skyfall abandoned island

Stagnate water. Photo #30 by Adrenaline

Nature reclaiming a room with a view at Battleship Island, aka No Man's Land, Gunkanjima, Ghost Island

Nature reclaiming a room with a view at Ghost Island aka Hashima. Photo #31 by Adrenaline

Gunkanjima Support Beams

Gunkanjima Support Beams. Photo #32 by skyeslee

Nagasaki Hashima Island (端島) Gunkajima Remains

“Nagasaki Hashima Island (端島) Gunkajima Remains.” Photo #33 by Ronald Woan

Life and death on Ghost Island, abandoned Hashima

Life and death on Ghost Island, abandoned Hashima. Photo #34 by imgur

Industrial ruins of Hashima, James Bond Skyfall hacking headquarters

In 2009, the Hashima coal mines were submitted for inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List because they “played an important part in the industrialization of Japan in the Bakamatsu and Meiji periods, and are part of the industrial heritage of Japan.” Photo #35 by The H.I.A.T.

Abandoned Hashima, the model mocked to be the hacking headquarters of a 007 villain in Skyfall

Now leaving the industrial ruins of Hashima, the inspiration for the super-secret hacking lair in the James Bond movie Skyfall. Photo #20 by Yasunari(康就) Nakamura(中村)

Battleship Island: Japan’s Ultimate Ghost Town (from which Skyfall 007 James Bond was hacking headquarters was inspired). The Holy Grail of All Industrial Ruins. Video #2 by picturenarrative


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