Explorer Profile: Jordy Meow

Jordy Meow is a French software engineer, who lives in Japan. He has strong artistic inspirations and likes to create new software concepts, along with web design and photography.

He has a few websites both in English and French, including Totoro Times, Haikyo and Mapkraft.

Jordy has been involved seriously in urban exploration in Japan since 2009, and his series of articles on Gunkanjima – “Gunkanjima Odyssey” are the best thing I have seen online about our favourite Ghost island. The photographs in the articles have been featured in several Top 5/10/20/100 lists on haikyo whenever Gunkanjima is mentioned and the information provided in them has been used in some of my posts as well.

You can imagine how excited I was to ask him about his visits to the island – yes, multiple visits!

MK: How did you learn about Gunkanjima? How many times have you visited the island?

JT: I don’t really remember where I discovered Gunkanjima for the first time, but it was on some haikyo website for sure, or maybe in the book called “Nippon No Haikyo”. I’ve been to the island 3 times in total.

MK: Why did you vist Gunkanjima? What were your motivations for visiting?
JM: I was in love with amazing-looking architectures and japanese ruins (haikyo) before and Gunkanjima seemed like a godsend combination of both. This is certainly one of the the most wonderful subjects for photography one can find, and that was my main motivation at the time.
MK: If you’ve visited the island more than once, why did you go back? Did the experience differ from your first visit?

JM: My first time was too short, and during the early morning only, so I couldn’t get any good photos. It was a real adventure however! I was alone with another french friend who didn’t knew the island at all, we only had one hour and we basically ran all around it. It was awesome!
The second time, I was able to take a wide range of interesting photos and visit most places I wanted to see. The adventure mood was completely gone but of course I enjoyed a lot exploring the island more into details.
I had to go a third time to visit the spots I didn’t have time to visit the second time, and now I pretty much went everywhere and visited every building. I would love to go back again to take arty shots and maybe less journalistic.
MK: Have you visited any similar sites or attractions like Gunkanjima?
JM: I have never visited anything close to this. I cannot think of any equivalent of Gunkanjima neither.
MK: Do you actively seek to understand or have knowledge about the island?
JM: I bought many books, try to read them even though I can’t read Japanese. Of course, I also spent a long time online looking at articles about it, maybe every single of them 😉
MK: What was the main attractor to the island?

JM: In parallel to this amazing architecture, I became more and more curious about what was the life once was on the island.  Nowadays, I really want to see this island alive again and I am a running a project with a friend that is supposed to do that. Let’s see where it goes !
MK: Did you feel empathetic to the people who have previously lived on the island during your visit? Did you experience any feelings or emotions whilst at the site?
JM: When walking on island, you can’t really feel or imagine how life was. The place is dead, the scenes of the past have completely vanished, the buildings are collapsing, everything is turning into dust. Apparently there aren’t many ghosts there neither, a friend who can see them told me so 😉 The Gunkanjima we know now is certainly not the Gunkanjima that it once was. It’s two different places that share a piece of rock in common. Now I would like to make an attempt to merge this two space-times together.
MK: Do you see Gunkanjima as unique or unusual?

JM: Unusual is an ersatz of what Gunkanjima is, and unique is merely a term to describe it. But certainly this island will remain one of the most striking memories I will ever have.
MK: Is there anything else you would like to share about Gunkanjima?
JM: My summary article about it, of course! 🙂 This one: http://www.totorotimes.com/urban-exploration/the-gunkanjima-odyssey/. I share everything I have to say on that island on my website 🙂 Thanks for interviewing me.

Then and Now – photographs of Gunkanjima

BEFORE TIME STOOD STILL

Photograph of the Hashima elementary school's Sports Day. Fathers and sons are dancing together. Showa 47.

Photograph of the Hashima elementary school’s Sports Day. Fathers and sons are dancing together. Showa 47 (1972).

Newspaper article at the time.

Newspaper article at the time.

“The longer the island sits unprotected by the typhoons and crashing waves, the more the structure crumbles – and with it, the history of this silent island.” – Ross McDermott

SHADOWS OF GHOSTS
Despite being off-limits to travellers, the island has become an irresistible magnet for urban explorers who go to extraordinary lengths to investigate and photograph the island’s abandoned buildings.

MAPS OF TREASURE BATTLESHIP ISLAND

Sections A & B - note level of reclaimed land vs original island profile. With time, the reclaimed land section is being retaken by the sea.

Sections A & B – note level of reclaimed land vs original island profile. With time, the reclaimed land section is being retaken by the sea.

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Sections C & D.

Area map of the island by Gunkanjima Concierge.

Area map of the island by Gunkanjima Concierge.

Year and extent of island expansion.

Year and extent of island expansion.

Brochure from local Nagasaki tour company.

Brochure from local Nagasaki tour company.