Atlases of Adventure

There are not many places on Earth left where you’re virtually guaranteed not to hear a single human voice, but Hashima Island is one of them. Lying off the coast of Nagasaki Prefecture in Japan, it is an abandoned concrete jungle. In the late 1800s, it was a coal mining facility. At its peak, 5,259 people lived on the tiny island, the size of twelve football fields, making it the most crowded island on the planet. Then, the coal industry died off, leaving it totally abandoned. It’s said that the buildings, spattered with a patina of sea salt, are now deteriorating so rapidly that you can hear structures collapse as the wind blows from the ocean.

But in that desolate place one hot day in 2013, you might also have heard footsteps of a single young Google employee. With a 360-degree Street View camera strapped to his back. He had one goal: to map the place. And so he did, meaning that you can now click through Google Maps and tread through this beautiful piece of history as though you were really following in his very footsteps.


It’s a story with all the ingredients of adventure: exploring a totally unknown space with new eyes, and making it known. It’s a particular itch mankind has wanted to scratch — to name things, to discover, to set down, to clarify and quantify. To map.


Time to dig deeper and explore the exotic brew of Mexico and Asian culture:

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