In the last post, I spoke extensively about our visit to Battleship Island – Gunkanjima (軍艦島), the experience is definitely something that every history and anime buff should consider visiting, but I thought I’d drop a quick review of the actual tour operator – Gunkanjima Concierge. (Note: This is purely my opinion of the tour operator’s service and Ms Buddha and I paid for our own tickets organised through our credit card concierge).
To get to there if you’re driving by car with a GPS, all you need to do is key in their phone number: 095-895-9300 and it will direct you there, there’s a car park across the road which in the end charged us about 300 yen (20HKD).
Please note that you have to pre-book this, given the fact that Hashima Island was only named UNESCO Heritage last year (2015) and also from the popularity of Attack on Titan – if you don’t book, you won’t be able to get a ticket.
When you arrive there, the Gunkanjima Concierge crew are hard to miss as they are all wearing red and their sign is red!
If you’re an English speaker, rest assure, their website is in English, in terms of pricing, the weekday price is 3,600 Yen (246HKD) or 3,900 Yen (267HKD) plus 300 Yen (20HKD) per person for a “visitor’s fee” to the island – the 300 Yen I consider just a small fee so that the preservation of Gunkanjima can continue.
While the staff themselves don’t speak much English, they will hand you an English information sheet to prep you. The reception staff speak much better English and our one was incredibly polite and nice in trying to find our booking. Also ask for an English audio guide; and if you can read Chinese, the also offer a folder with information about the island in Chinese. Once you confirm everything you need, you’re provided with the tickets, pamphlets, audio guides and an additional information sheet.
Notice the yellow ribbon? That’s to identify you that you are in fact not a Japanese speaker; this is more so that the staff can take better care of you than for you to get anything out of it.
The rest of the gear includes the pamphlet which gives a good explanation of Hashima Island itself:
Along with the pamphlet, you also get instructions on a rock paper scissors game that they play at the end of the boat ride (on the way back) that if you win, you get some mini gifts. The notice also comes with some safety instructions.
In terms of service, the whole thing was impeccable, as I mentioned in the review of the island, you’re provided with ponchos and windbreakers – and the staff on the boat were really friendly and alert to everyone’s needs. One thing they continue to make an effort to do is to check up on all the yellow ribbon people to make sure our audio guide continues to work (which it did).
The only thing that I would suggest, if possible, is to increase the amount of content of the English audio, because there was slightly extended period where I thought that the audio guide was broken, when in fact there was just no content. That said, I know it is difficult to translate all the content available, so it was only a minor thing.
On the boat ride back, they do a little advertising for their museum – which cost a bit of money if you intend to go there as well, we didn’t because I was hungry already but in the museum, you get more photos and information about the people who lived on the island.
Overall, the experience was great, and the staffs’ attitude definitely made it more enjoyable.