Japan has ghost towns too. Or rather ghost islands. One of them is Hashima, a tiny speck of land just off the coast of Nagasaki Peninsula, on Kyushu Island, facing the East China Sea. From the late 1800s on, it served as a coal mine, and 5000 people used to live and toil there.
But the mine shut down in the 1970s, and the island was abandoned. The concrete structures, housing blocks, overpasses, and mechanical installations were left to fend for themselves against corrosive winds, torrential rains, and periodic typhoons.
“Apparently, Hashima’s buildings are deteriorating so rapidly that you can hear parts of the concrete collapse as the wind blows from the ocean,” Google writes on its blog.
In 2009, some new structures were added, the dangerous parts were cordoned off, and the island was opened for tourism. In 2012, it entered the James Bond lexicon when it was chosen as backdrop for the villain’s hideout in Skyfall. And now Google, using Google Trekker, visited the island’s off-limits paths and incorporated the imagery into Street View. Here is the video of Google Treekker capturing the eerie industrial wasteland.
So what does the CIA have to do with this? Keyhole Inc., a venture-capital funded startup with a cool technology, was acquired by Google in 2004. Its technology became Google Earth and also filtered into Google Maps and Google Mobile. One of Keyhole’s early investors? In-Q-Tel, the venture-capital branch of the CIA. Here’s my take…. Tech Companies and their Love Affair with the NSA and the CIA