2018/09/17「 Me and Gunkanjima(Hashima) 」- Kunio Matsuura

1.Gunkanjima in around 1958

  My name is Matsuura. I joined Mitsubishi Mining in 1st April 1958. After the training, I became a coal miner in Takashima mine. (Included Hashima)

  Takashima mining was included Takashima mine and Hashima mine. Coal was the main energy in Japan. In the golden age of coal mining industry even can counter against oil.

  For Mitsubishi mining in Kyushu, Takashima mine was a re-new mine that received other miners form Chikuho area. The quality of coal from Takashima mine was better than Chikuho and countered against oil because of high calorie coal. Especially the coal from Hashima was hot sale. 

  Takashima mine was full of Bituminous coal and was the top level coal mine in Japan. Hashima mine was deep, humid and slanted,it was hard to transport machine inside.

  Takashima mine was flatten than Hashima, so worker can transport the latest mine machine inside and improved production and safety.

2. Accident in 1964 and the maintenance

  After I joined Takashima mining, I was trained between Takashima and Hashima. Half year later, I passed state exam and became a coal miner.

  I lived in 「Seiwa Dormitory」on the hill in Takashima. I can clearly saw the full view of Hashima in my room. I still remember how wonder was the night view of Hashima.

  I was interested in military things and every time when I saw Hashima makes me want to go on battleship.

  This was one of the reasons I wanted to join Mitsubishi and work at Hashima. 

  After I worked in Takashima, I requested to change to Hashima. But my senior told me that I should learn the knowledge about coal mining first. 

  Unfortunately, Hashima was temporarily closed and the coal mine changed to “Mitsuse area”(nearby Hashima) because of the fire accident in August 1964.

3.The period between the renew of Hashima in 1966 November

   “Mitsuse area”was shallow and the coal was less, but less slanted then Takashima. So the miner could use the machines like drum cutter.

  The area near Hashima was developed with Mitsuse area together. Hashima restarted in 1966 November, the high technology machine and coal miner from Takashima was transported in renew Hashima mine.

  I was exciting to be one of them after 7 years I worked in Takashima. I was little bit worry bout moving because of I was merried in 1962 but I didn’t have kid yet.

  I moved to Hashima and lived in Building no.8 and my first son born after 1 year later. I was so glad to have a kid on Hashima.

  I wanted to name my son by the same pronunciation with “Hashima”, but I could not find a good name. So I named my son with“Masaya”which mixed my mother’s and my wife’s name.

  My mother was glad but I still want to use “Hashima” to name my son.

4.Smooth sailing life on Hashima

  The work in Hashima was fun and I enjoyed to be the manager in mine. I became to miner union leader 4 years later. I am still be grateful to God about the fulfilling days in Hashima.

  Hashima was far away from Nagasaki city and the ferry cancelled unusually because sea wave was high. Although there was little inconvenience when the merchants couldn’t bring foods to Hashima when the ferry cancelled, Hashima had complete electric, water supply and public facilities.

  Hashima is a small island that you just need one cigarette time if you walk around on the sea wall. Total around 1km.

  There were lots of public facilities on Hashima like shops, theater, school, shrine, tempo, hospital and police office. Even Hashima is small, I still love the events on island and the setting in theater.

  After WW2 in 1948, Hashima was filmed by a movie call “Midorinaki shima (means a less green island)”. There were around 3400 residents in 1965 and decreased 35% then the golden age in 1960. So residents were more pleasant  then golden age because they had more free space for used to build more public facilities.

  The life was affluent and no beggar on Hashima. The family could afford home appliances like TV, radio or refrigerator. The relationship of residents on Hashima was closed and they always share and help each other.

  The workplace was fun too. Miners could take shower and always have a drink together after work, the morale and production was high because their relationship was closed.

  Although Takashima had workplace struggle and the labor union of Takashima mine confronted Mitsubishi and said that “We won’t end even Mitsubishi closed.”, Hashima mine was flexible response to Mitsubishi and did not have workplace struggle.

   After Hashima mine reopened, they had a monthly 35000 tons new record of coal production and became the golden age.

5.The new mining area development stopped and the worry of closing

   I changed my workplace from inside mine to project and planning office after 4 years in Hashima. I could get close with Miner manager and know about the important job, there was different nervousness with inside mine,

  There was a flooded accident and the mining was stopped at 600m. I was shocked by the coal layer was over 1000m deep under the sea and how difficult to mining until there.

  After Mitsuse area, the renew Hashima mine area was the only lifeline of whole Hashima. I was upset by knew about Hashima was going to become exhausted. The miner reduced about the development of Hashima and they worried about the new area development.

  Hashima mine stopped the development and miner start leaving Hashima in March 1970. Japan was in a high growth period and other industry start replacing mine industry.

  Hashima mine became labor shortage and had to decrease their organization. I was shocked because even I wish to stay in Hashima I received a suggestion about change my work place by Mitsubishi.

My dream was became the top miner of Japan in Hashima.

  I started worry about my future when Hashima decreased their organization, Could I still feel proud of if I change to other group in Mitsubishi? Could I change my job and restart a new work life again?

  I decided to change my job by hearing my senior’s advice and my family agreed with me.

  I changed my job to become a technician of air conditioner because I had an experience about air conditioner on Takashima mine.

  Although I quitted my job on September 20 in 1970 over 48 years, I still miss my life on Hashima right now.


6.“Gunkanjima” after I left Hashima

  I moved to Fukuoka with my family together. I used my unemployment insurance to take the air conditioner technician test. After I got my certification, I found a job about the conditioner of industrial.

   I worked in nuclear power plant about the maintenance of the air conditioner around the reactor in the plant. I was one of an engineer about maintenance and construction of power plant in Hokkaido Electric power, Shikoku Electric power, Kansai Electric power and Japan Electric power.

  Although the energy power changed form coal to nuclear in Japan was trend of the times, I still grateful about Takashima and Hashima where raised me to a coal miner.

  Hashima mine was closed in 1974 January after 3 years I left. I was working in Kyusyu Electric power when I heard about this news. I felt overwhelmed by a thousand emotions.

  Lots of photo album released after Hashima became an abandoned island. I collected all of them as my treasure.

  After 41 years (2015), Hashima, My hometown that I never forget, became World Heritage. I almost moved to tears by the joy of that. Let’s cheers to Hashima!


  To the greatest Hashima Banzai Banzai and Banzai !!!!!!


  I joined the tour and landed on Gunkanjima again by a chance form Kobe Saihouin after 48 years. When I landed on Hashima, I felt the old times came back and I heard my neighbors said”Welcome back”.

  I really gratitude for told me about the tour !!

2018 August 26   松浦邦雄  Kunio Matsuura(Age:85)


1933 May 6 , Born in Jeollanam-do(South Korea now)

1945 October , Family went back to hometown Kokura since Japan defeated

1952 March , Graduate from Kokura high school

1958 March , Graduate from Waseda university Mining major

1958 April 1st , Joined Mitsubishi mining in Takashima mine

1961 October 22  , Marriaged with Yayoi Bokuya

1965 October 1st , Moved to Hashima mine

1966 December 6 , First son Masahiro born

1970 September 20 , Retired from Hashima mine

1977 March , Joined Shinryo Corporation Nuclear Energy department in Kobe

1977 October , Became Leader of Genkai No.1 Nuclear power plant in Kyusyu Electric power

1980 February , Became Leader of Ooi No.1 & 2 Nuclear power plant in Kansai Electric power

1983 March , Back to Kobe office and promoted to Manager

1989 December   , Promoted to Director of Nuclear Energy department

1990 May   , Built The Matsuura’s family grave in Takano (Kongosanmai Bodaiji Temple, near Osaka)

1993 December   , Promoted to director of (Affiliated company) Shinryo Corporation Production department and Auditor of (Parent company)Nuclear Energy department.

1999 June , Retired from affiliated company and Non executive Auditor of Parent company

2000 December , Retired from Parent company

2004 June   , Kongosanmai Bodaiji Temple became World Heritage


2014 October , A celebration Stone monument built in Kongosanmai Bodaiji Temple named of “Former coal miner Matsuura from Hashima in Nagasaki”

2015 July , Hashima (Gunkanjima) became World Heritage


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