Aerial video of Battleship Island gives post-apocalyptic vision of a world without man


posted Thursday, June 6, 2013 at 12:30 PM EDT

Ever wondered what our world would look like if mankind was to vanish overnight, and how long Mother Nature would take to reclaim our sprawling cities? A cool aerial video shot using a hexacopter-mounted Sony Action Cam gives us a glimpse into that post-apocalyptic future, and the answer is clear: Mother Nature will not take long to reoccupy her world once we're gone.

Shot on the tiny Japanese island of Hashima -- better known by the nickname Gunkanjima, or "Battleship Island" -- the video shows the effects of just 40 years without the presence of mankind on what was once one of the most densely-populated places on earth. The island was the site of a rich coal vein, and mining all of that coal took a lot of manpower. Although it had just 5,259 residents at its peak, Battleship Island had nearly double the population density of Manila, currently the world's most jam-packed city.

Battleship Island has an area of just 16 acres, but was home to over 5,000 mine workers.

Fitting that many people into an area of just 0.02 square miles dictated that the mine's owners -- part of the Mitsubishi group -- build upwards, and build they did, starting with Japan's first large concrete building in 1919. Over the next four decades, around 70 more buildings rose from the rocks, but the 1960s saw a decline in demand for coal, and with it, for Battleship Island. The last residents left in 1974, and the inhospitable little island was left abandoned once more.

Salty air, typhoon winds, gulls, and foliage have together been gradually reclaiming Battleship Island ever since. It would be 35 years before mankind set foot once more on its shores, when in 2009 journalists were given the opportunity to visit Hashima. They were greeted by a vision in collapsing concrete of just how quickly Mother Nature can do her work. In less time than it took to put them up, the vast apartment and factory buildings on Battleship Island have already been badly damaged, as corroding rebar destroys the concrete around it. In fact, some have already collapsed.

Abandoned for four decades, Battleship Island is rapidly succumbing to its hostile environment.

It makes for an awe-inspiring sight, and also a spectacular backdrop for the video, which serves something of a dual purpose. Not only does it document Battleship Island from a new perspective -- and from places where it would likely no longer be safe for visitors to tread -- before even more collapses occur, but it also reminds us that it's not just the GoPro that can make a great aerial video: Sony's little Action Cam is every bit as capable of bringing back superb footage from on high. Very cool stuff!

Sony's team shot this awesome footage of Battleship Island from a hexacopter-mounted Action Cam, which flew not just above, but through the buildings as well.

(via DVICE; aerial photo via kntrty / Flickr and closeup photos via keromako / Flickr, all used under Creative Commons CC BY 2.0 licenses.)