Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Haikyo! Gunkanjima



Nice, I finally had a chance to check this place out. Gunkanjima is, to shorten a hundred years of history, an abandoned coal mine island made out of cement. That looks like a battleship. It is where they filmed all those scenes in 007 Skyfall where James Bond meets the villain guy. What? They didn't actually film here? Anyways, they made it seem like they did.


This was like the #1 haikyo spot back in the day. The island was closed off, mainly because the buildings were crumbling. Explorers would probably die if they somehow scaled the 10 meter concrete walls. At least that is what the officials of whatever city governs this place were thinking.

The people who did make it, they hired clandestine fishermen boats, slinking away before sunrise for a chance to photograph.


I took the tour boat.

A few years back they decided that they could probably make a shit-ton of cash by allowing tour boats to land here, weather permitting.


4000 yen and a few hours is all it takes these days. Granted the on-island tour is fairly boring, only hitting up a small stretch on the southern tip.


A lot of fishermen spend the day on the walls. Plan B, dress up like an old Japanese fisherman.


The residential high rises are strictly off-limits. Probably full of neat relics.


1000 meters down, give or take, to get coal. The history of the island is fairly interesting. On the paid tour you get a healthy dose of it, albeit all in Japanese. The above is the worker's bath. Coming out completely black from the mine, they would wash in hot seawater, then get undressed and wash again in seawater. Finally some freshwater, which had to be hauled in by the boatload from the mainland.

It would have been rad to do that for a week, all wwoof style.

During the war, a lot of Chinese and Koreans got to do just that. Lucky!


There is a good account of someone who did the illegal trip here.


Recommended if you have a few hours in Nagasaki. The first boat runs from about 10:30am until 1:00pm or so. Reservations can be made, though they will just let you stand on the deck if they are full.

Hey! I was interviewed by a 100% Gunkanjima research website:

Check out this site for a TON of info.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Himeji Castle - Error 404



Whoah, a castle-sized tarp! Around a castle!


Yeah, this is the mega-famous Himeji Castle. Probably the most famous castle in all of Japan. While most castles in Japan are reconstructed shells of their former magnificence, Himeji survived both the Meiji-era mass destruction of castles and the frequent American bombing raids during World War 2.

But it hasn't survived, well, dirt. So here it is being repaired and painstakingly cleaned until around 2015.


But you can go inside (for an extra fee of 200 yen!) and take an elevator to the top. Sweet!


And you can learn all about the re-plastering process. Sweet!

If you can't find the castle, just go past the Lamp and Laser store. Sweet!