Google Street View goes to abandoned island from 007's 'SkyFall'

If you've ever wanted to pretend to be James Bond on the abandoned island he travels to in "SkyFall," you can now do so thanks to Google Street View.

The island of Hashima, near Nagasaki, Japan, was home to a coal mining facility that housed 5,000 people in the 19th century. But after coal mining declined in the 1970s, the island was abandoned, the empty buildings left to decay.


"Hashima has transformed into an eerie tourist destination where you can see a once-thriving town decaying and totally devoid of life," Google wrote in a blog post. "Apparently, Hashima's buildings are deteriorating so rapidly that you can hear parts of the concrete collapse as the wind blows from the ocean."

The island reopened to tourism in 2009, but it truly gained fame last year when it was used as the lair for Raoul Silva, the supervillain in the latest 007 movie.

Now Google has documented Hashima with its Street View imagery technology, and the company was even allowed to go into parts of the island that are off-limits to tourists.

"Winds have been very unkind to Hashima over the last several decades, and with the buildings falling apart we hope this imagery can serve as a digital archive of its current state before further collapse," Google said.

Google documented Hashima, known as "Battleship Island" in Japan for its shape, using its Trekker backpack. The Trekker is worn by a person as they walk around, allowing the cameras to take pictures the same way Google's Street View cars do. The advantage of the Trekker, though, is that it can go to areas where there are no roads, such as Hashima or the Grand Canyon.

The company this week also kicked off a program that will allow other organizations to borrow its Street View Trekker devices to help document more parts of the world. Google invited tourism boards, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, universities and research organizations to apply to borrow a Trekker.

Google kicked off the program by teaming up with the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, which will use the Trekker to capture various parts of the island state.