Ikeshima Island was the last coal mine island in Kyushu. In 1913, Mitsui Mining company bought the area on a small island in Nagasaki for coal mining. The excavation started in 1959. The tall apartments were built for the workers. In 1985, the coal production reached its highest point of over 1.5mil tons. Due to the cheap coal from overseas, the coal mine was shut down in November 2001, so around 2,500 workers were all let go.
Now, there are less than 130 people on an island full of decayed buildings.
Delving into the next nooks and crannies of the four-kilometer-long island, I discovered more and more collapsing buildings. A hospital filled with rusting equipment, a creepy morgue, an operating room that looked as if a surgeon had just left, hospital beds, dental chairs. Dust balls danced from one room to another in the silent corridors. There are still plenty of surgical items on the shelves, drugs, plaster prostheses, and surgical instruments.
Other areas of the island are equally interesting, such as an office building filled with moldy documents, televisions and other electronic devices from the '90s, drawing tools, and archives. And, of course, the main star—the coal mine that has rotten so badly that it collapsed inside like a house of cards, leaving access only to a small part of the control room that was pleasing to the eye.
The 8-story apartment buildings, taken over by nature, are a symbol for the island itself and are the target of many Japanese photographers. The legacy from the old time became a ghost town. As 90% of the island is now abandoned, it is also often referred to as “The Second Gunkanjima” but I think that it needs around 30-40 extra years to be a worthy competitor.