At its productive peak in 1959, nearly 1,400 people per hectare lived in its residential district, eking out a tough living and sending their wages home to their families on the mainland. Due to the rise of oil and the fall of coal as a fuel in the latter half of the 20th century, however, the operation eventually became unproductive, and the island was abandoned and placed off limits.
Now, after more than 30 years, tourists are finally allowed to visit the island and explore the daunting concrete towers and industrial buildings that once buzzed with life. But don't expect white sand beaches and palm trees. Rather, it seems like the setting for some noirish anime film like Spirited Away, so be sure to bring a video camera, lucky amulet, and maybe a flask of sake to strengthen your resolve as you enter its dark chambers. Oh, and watch out for ghosts.