Off the westernmost coast of Japan, is an island called "Gunkanjima" that is hardly known even to the Japanese. Long ago, the island was nothing more than a small reef. Then in 1810, the chance discovery of coal drastically changed the fate of this reef. As reclamation began, people came to live here, and through coal mining the reef started to expand continuously. Before long, the reef had grown into an artificial island of one kilometer (three quarters of a mile) in perimeter, with a population of 5300. Looming above the ocean, it appeared a concrete labyrinth of many-storied apartment houses and mining structures built closely together. Seen from the ocean, the silhouette of the island closely resembled a battleship - so, the island came to be called Gunkanjima, or Battleship island.
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