haunted ghost town in japan

8 Must-visit Japanese Ghost Towns

Jun 05, 2024Shopify API

Want a spine chilling experience in Japan? Here are Japanese ghost towns that will definitely give you the creeps! Check it out!

Would you call yourself a “daredevil”? Do you love doing things that give you that adrenaline rush?

Well, we are not talking about skydiving or bungee jumping here, we are talking about doing things like exploring places and not just any places, but ghost towns! Sounds like fun (or maybe not) right?

Japanese ghost towns are those towns that have been abandoned over the years because they were known to be inhabited by ghosts or yokai, as the Japanese call it. Some of these towns were left abandoned due to various other reasons as well like nuclear disasters, mining disasters, mine closures and incomplete projects.

What’s the hype about these ghost towns, you may ask. Well, in the present day, a lot of researchers and YouTubers have started visiting these ghost towns in order to explore them, since these towns are now completely dilapidated. Some of these towns have also become tourist sites that visitors throng to see every year.

Most Haunted Japanese Ghost Towns

GUNKANJIMA: The Hashima Island

  • Location: Nagasaki Prefecture
Japanese Ghost Towns

Most often called as Gunkanjima (meaning warship) or nicknamed as the “Battleship Island”, because of its shape, this island has been abandoned since the 20th of April 1974. 

It is located close to the city of Nagasaki and has been open for visitors to view certain portions of the island since 2009, after 35 years of complete abandonment! This island has also been a famous site for many documentaries, feature films and docu-series as well.


The Hashima Island was largely developed due to its undersea coal mines that were discovered in the late 1800s and was fully operational with its all- time peak population of over 5,000 people, in 1959. 

The island was bought by the Mitsubishi group in 1890 and they began extracting coal thereafter. The island had its own apartment blocks, schools for the children, community center and town hall, swimming pools and shops for the miners and their families.

It is also known that during the time of the Second World War, conscripted Korean civilians and prisoners from China were also forced to work in the mines under harsh conditions and this caused the death of many of the miners due to malnourishment, exhaustion and mining accidents.


Later, in 1974, the island’s coal reserves depleted and the mine closed, clearing out all its residents. The island was then left abandoned ever since, until 2009, 35 years later, when it opened out for tourism purposes.

Shiraiwa Village

An immense feeling of sorrow and emptiness envelops the remote Shiraiwa Village in Saitama Prefecture, Japan. It’s a place filled with a stillness that pervades most of the area’s decaying structures, long abandoned but seemingly never forgotten. 

One of the oldest inhabited areas in Japan, Shiraiwa Village is an eerie silent witness of the past, a testament to the decline of development in the region. 

After the mining area was closed in the 70s and 80s, much of the town was slowly abandoned by its inhabitants, never to be repopulated. 

The small community was left to the elements, allowing nature to slowly reclaim what was once theirs. 

The remnants of the small settlement came to embody a unique kind of ghost town, one to be appreciated more for its desolate beauty than its former vibrancy. 

The rows of abandoned houses, the silent dirt paths, the eerie silence that hangs in the air are images that come to mind when hearing of Shiraiwa Village. 

Visitors to the area often remark on its surreal atmosphere, as if its lingering inhabitants had just stepped out of the forgotten houses. There is a melancholic energy that permeates the entire area, far removed from the hustle and bustle of modern Japan. 

For many, it is a reminder of the fragility of human development, and the transient nature of life.

Ashiodozan Ghost Town

Ashiodozan was once a thriving copper-mining town in the mountains north-east of Tokyo, but nowadays it stands as an abandoned, eerie ghost town.

 Here lies the evidence of the extreme environmental damage caused by industrialization and the reckless exploitation of the area’s physical resources during the Tokugawa Shogunate's reign.

The Tokugawa Shogunate commandeered the area and ramped up mining operations, leading to Ashio producing 40-percent of the nation’s copper, an enormous number at the time. 

This led to the population of the village increasing to 39,000, even though all of it was due to the small number of miners and workers. 

However, after the Second World War, production slowed down and all mines were eventually shut down by 1973.

The now-closed copper-mining town and its surrounding areas were left neglected, forgotten, and plagued with the effects of extreme environmental damage and sulfurous acid gas from smelters, slowly and surely poisoning the nearby mountains with its fumes. 

Today, Ashiodozan stands as a haunting reminder of the consequences of human greed, recklessness, and carelessness.

Much of the area still shows evidence of almost 40 years of abject neglect. Brown stains on trees, buildings, and ground indicate the corrosion of metals, as well as places of danger when people come too close. 

The semi-abandoned village lies in stark contrast to the beautiful mountain views, which have been blinded by pollution for years.

The Nagatani Village

Location: Fukui Prefecture

Located in the central part of Japan’s Fukui prefecture is the village of Nagatani, which has been left abandoned for over 20 years now.

In the year 1966, the residents were asked to leave the town because there were plans of building a dam near the Nagatani village.

The village was inhabited by around 70 people at that time and the villagers fought against this proposition, but unfortunately it was all in vain. 

Eventually, one by one the people of the village had to leave Nagatani because the project was going to start sooner. 

But some of the people were completely against the plan and refused to leave Nagatani. Finally, by the 1990’s, all the villagers had evacuated Nagatani, because their efforts to stop this project were to no avail.

Some years later, it came to be known that the project of building the dam near Nagatani had been called off and thereafter, the villagers never returned to the place, leaving this village uninhabited ever since.

Today, there are some people who visit this ghost town of Nagatani to explore the place and see the ruins of the villagers’ dilapidated houses, shrines and temples that have been taken over by nature.

The Fukushima Ghost Towns

Location: Okuma Town, Fukushima Prefecture

The Fukushima ghost towns came into existence and became very popular because of the Fukushima nuclear disaster that took place in the year 2011, at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.


It is known that the cause of this disaster was because of the Tohoku earthquake and a resulting tsunami that occurred in close proximity to the power plant that caused it to get damaged. This disaster then became the most severe nuclear disaster ever, after the Chernobyl disaster that had occurred in 1986.


The reason for the nuclear disaster was because the earthquake triggered a huge tsunami, which created waves of over 46 feet in height that flooded the power plant. This resulted in three nuclear meltdowns, the release of radioactive contamination and three hydrogen explosions in the plant. 

This caused severe radiation to be released into the atmosphere. Due to this disaster, the town had to be immediately evacuated of all the people who lived within the radius of 20 kilometers around the plant. 

So around a 100,000 residents were evacuated during this large-scale evacuation called by the government.

Ever since then, the Fukushima towns have been called ghost towns as the people never returned.

As of today, even though the government promises the people that the towns are completely safe for them to stay, along with their families and the government urges the people to return, they are reluctant as they still consider the fact that there may be repercussions of the then nuclear disaster.

The Nichitsu Mining Town

Location: Saitama Prefecture

The Nichitsu town is located in the Saitama prefecture was very famous for the mining of tin. It is very often visited by visitors as it is no secret spot and is open to the public ever since it was deserted.

The town got its name because of the mining company that owned the village – Nichitsu. This village was where the tin mining took place and the labourers also resided in the same village because the main cities were too far away for them to commute on a daily basis. Over the years, the number of miners increased and the residents of the Nichitsu town went up to over 3, 000 people.

The mining town soon grew in size and also had their own schools for the children of the miners to study in, a cinema, for some entertainment, hospitals and also a post office. The labourers and their families were put up in apartments, while the bosses had their own houses.

Later, around the 1980s, it came to be known that the mining town slowly started to lose its residents and eventually the town had been abandoned for reasons unknown to the public. But speculations state that it could have been because the mining resources eventually depleted.

Currently, a lot of people still go to explore the mining area which can be accessed by crossing a dangerous bridge. While a certain part of the Nichitsu town is completely abandoned, it is known that some of the Nichitsu troops still guard the mining town.

The Ikeshima Coal Mine Town

Location: Nagasaki Prefecture

The Ikeshima coal mining town is an island that became famous when it was bought by Mitsui, a famous mining company, in order to mine coal from a huge undersea coal reserve, which began in the year 1959. Over 8000 people including men, women and children were moved to the island, as the men were working as labourers to mine the coal.

The mining remained in an active state until 2001, until the labour costs began to rise, thus forcing the closure of the mine (while there is still coal that remains in the mine till today). Eventually, the labourers and their families left the island.

Today, this partly abandoned mining town now has only around 200 residents, those who chose to continue to live on the island. It is now thrown open to the public as it is a popular tourist spot for those who visit Nagasaki. 

They get to have a tour around the island and the tourists are also taken into the mining tunnel and are allowed into the dilapidated apartments to view the ruins. There is still a functional school that has just 6 children who study there!

Also, the islanders offer a spot for tourists to spend a night on the Ikeshima Island, but unfortunately there is only one place that offers visitors an overnight stay (but with no food provided).

The Mukainokura Village

Location: Shiga Prefecture

The village of Mukainokura is well-known to be one of the most famous ghost towns in Japan and is very easily accessible both by train and by car. It is located in the Shiga prefecture on the top of a steep hill.

Mukainokura was known to be the home of around 95 people back in the 1880s, with just around 20 houses. The villagers used to live off agriculture and the production of briquettes of charcoal made from sawdust. 

Over the years, the need for charcoal reduced as gas, oil and electricity replaced its use and this lead to the inhabitants of the village losing their jobs.

So, due to lack of work and money for their daily living, the people soon started moving out into the plains, to live in bigger cities for work purposes. Thereafter, from 52 inhabitants in the 1960s, the residents of the village decreased to zero in 1985 and the village was left permanently abandoned ever since then.

Apart from the loss of their jobs, other speculations state that it was because the village’s steep location was not favourable for daily travel and commute for the villagers to work elsewhere when they had to begin to work in the plains and thereby was left abandoned.

The final takeaway

If you are a lover of history and are someone who simply likes reading about spooky historical stuff like this or if you are one of those people who love to explore such places, then these 6 ghost towns in Japan are some of the spookiest places you could ever visit and they are so eerie that they will for sure give you the creeps! So go ahead and get exploring!

More articles