One of the more interesting things about Japan is haikyo, or exploring the ruins of our modern civilization, and whether it's spelunking through run-down factories or exploring abandoned love hotels, it can be quite interesting to see a side of the country that doesn't make it into the travel books very often. I've done my share of this, going with some of my students to check out ruins of an old prison that had been abandoned for decades, and near our city we can see the remains of an amusement park I used to take my kids to, which seem to be watched over by a giant statue of a Buddhist Kannon deity nearby. The grand-daddy of modern ruins in Japan is Hashima Island near Nagasaki, nicknamed Gunkan-jima or Battleship Island because of the way it looks like a ship floating in the water. When rich coal deposits were discovered at the end of the 1800's a colony was set up to house the miners, and during the heyday of the island in the 1950s there were nearly 5000 people living in close quarters there, complete with high-rise apartments, a pachinko parlor and even a movie theatre. It all came to a screeching halt when the mine was closed in 1974 and everyone left, in some cases with cups of undrunk tea still sitting on the table. Now the most famous ghost town in Japan has been proposed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Let's hope they get it open to the public soon!