I know it’s old news, but I thought I’d add it here anyway. It seems that plenty of people are interested.
Yes, the rumors are true. As of April 22, 2009 Hashima Island, aka Gunkanjima, aka Battleship Island is open to tourists.
While special permits are no longer necessary, visiting the island is still neither easy nor convenient. And certainly not cheap. A round trip boat ride from Nagasaki with only one hour on the island (landing subject to weather and sea conditions) costs 4300 yen per person. At least that’s what my husband says. He did the calling and asking, because we’re planning a trip to Gunkanjima as soon as I’m back in Japan.
But if you’re as determined to get there as we are, how do you arrange a trip? Simply call Yamasa Kaiun boat company at 095-822-5002 and book yourself a passage.
From what I understand, if you don’t speak Japanese, you can ask the Nagasaki Tourist Office to help you. They may roll their eyes when you’re not looking and think “another whiney gaijin…” and “I hate this stupid job” but since this is Japan, they won’t complain out loud and should be able to assist you in making the appropriate arrangements.
PS. OK, after all this time of thinking about it and after finally managing to weasel some time off from work, we're going to Gunkanjima on October 11th. Full report will be coming up.