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16 Best Abandoned Places in Japan 2014

16 Best Abandoned Places in Japan 2014

It has been a very busy but happy year. However, meanwhile, Totoro Times got covered by a Fujiesque pile of dust! I am now blowing it away with a new cleaner design. Many articles are also about to be published but for starters, as for 2012 and 2013, here is my 2014’s “Haikyo Best Of. I actually did find some time to explore a little 🙂

16. The Clinic of the Stray Dog

I have visited many abandoned hospitals in Japan (check my selection of abandoned hospitals and abandoned clinics) and was not expecting any new surprises. The Clinic of the Stray Dog pleased me in that sense : it is a really fun location to discover and just around Tokyo. What I didn’t knew is that a stray dog lives inside! It took me a while before to be stupid enough to get into that place, walk beside the dog looking at me with its dying eyes and go upstairs. My friend – she is not a haikyo explorer – waited for me the whole time wondering if I was fine. And I was, enjoying the very Ghiblish second floor and fearing to go downstairs and meet that poor little guy again.

abandoned, haikyo, hospital, japan, japanese, ruin, urban exploration, urbex
The Dog is Watching!

15. Nichitsu School

Memories definitely change our perception of the places and that is probably why I enjoyed my re-visit of the School of Nichitsu. For those who don’t know, Nichitsu is a famous abandoned village and, still, an active mining company in Saitama. I felt like this place didn’t change at all since my first time there in 2011 but my life did, so much. Somehow I found myself entering a very thin and fragile spacetime, between the life of those students who once where, and my three-years younger myself.

abandoned, haikyo, japan, japanese, ruin, school, urban exploration, urbex
Nichitsu School

14. Abandoned Schools in Kyoto

Having to meet one french friend in Osaka, I decided to stop by Kyoto on the way to meet another friend of mine, my haikyo-budd だみあん (Damian is on Flickr). We had a nice time lunching in the garden of an old abandoned school with two models then we took pictures of them. It was simple, sweet and relaxing.

Schools in Kyoto with Friends
Schools in Kyoto with Friends

By the way, please check my article about abandoned schools in Japan if you are interested in those 🙂

13. Ponbetsu & Horonai Mines in Hokkaido

I love Hokkaido and managed to go twice this year. The first time was with my travel buddy Airi-chan, not a haikyo explorer but a girl who loves photography and adventures. We didn’t have the opportunity to do anything amazingly crazy but I went back to two abandoned mines I enjoyed before : Ponbetsu and Horonai. Hokkaido has many cool haikyo but I have to admit: the landscapes are even better.

Sumitomo Ponbetsu Coal Mine
Horonai Mine

12. Clinic of the Mining Village

The closure of the mines left a lot of Hokkaido towns half-abandoned. This clinic is in an extremely bad state, the walls falling down and the building from outside is tilted. However, the surgery room is sparkling clean, eery, looks like it is still in use.

Surgery Room in Hokkaido

11. Taushubetsu Bridge

One of my dreams was to walk on the Taushubetsu Bridge in Hokkaido, right in the center of the island of Hokkaido. But when we arrived, I didn’t expect that the 4km road to the bridge was actually forbidden at all times, because of bears! We decided to go nevertheless, under the eyes of our furry hungry friends, keeping them away by talking loud and playing music…

Taushubetsu Bridge

10. The Forgotten Swimming-Pool

It’s very early in the morning and I am walking around an abandoned swimming pool. The haikyo is surrounded by a metal fence and there is no easy way to get in. “Are you sure you can climb it?” I asked Mana Dancer, my friend and today’s model. “Yeah, sure, why not!”. It’s her first haikyo but she’s certainly not scared. I help her, we get in, and bring to the sad broken-down swimming-pool a bit of life and glory for a moment.

Mana Dancer

9. Strip Club

The end of afternoon rays wake up the calcined floor of the old abandoned strip-club. It’s warm, very warm for a winter day but Mana Dancer decides to set the podium on fire. An unforgettable moment of fun with the sunset, the light that runs on the walls before escaping the place, the flashes and the erotic and satanic dance.

Mana Dancer
Mana Dancer

8. The Shrine of the Sleeping Lake

My Japanese family lives in Fukushima Prefecture (far from the sea and the nuclear plants) and that is why I am going there nearly every month. Being certainly one of the most beautiful prefecture of Japan, I feel this is dramatic that the events of 2011 are still being scary for the foreign tourists. The shrine lays in the depth of the lake, which was created during the Mount Bandai eruption. What we see here is a tori facing that now invisible shrine. Not only the shrine is in the water, a whole village is also there, with its secrets. Let’s discover more about this place later this year.

The Yama Shrine

7. Abandoned School in Yamanashi

I am having a great time with Satomi’s cute daughters. They love haikyo, modeling and they of course are the perfect fit of this old school in Yamanashi. We made a story through photos of them entering the school, having a class, playing music, having a break outside, etc. It deserves an article later so please look forward to it! We already went for more adventures all together, this year gonna be fun.

Haikyo School With N&M&K
Haikyo School With N&M&K
Haikyo School With N&M&K
Haikyo School With N&M&K

6. Royal House

This abandoned house has everything to please. From its location in the forest, to its western appearance, surrounded by a Japanese mystery in which appears a wealthy British business-man and the Queen Elizabeth. If you don’t know this house already, please check the Abandoned House in the Forest and Royal House: Stories from the Past. Only one part was missing to the story: and end. This is done now. Ai-chan, in the role of the last family member, discovering the place and, also, her story.

Royal House With Ai
Royal House With Ai
Royal House With Ai
Royal House With Ai

5. Nara Dreamland

My 4th visit of Nara Dreamland was surprisingly also the scariest: I was not alone in Nara Dreamland this time, there was also another person! We could see his torchlight, hear him from time to time (actually talking) but we never met him. Well, we did our best to avoid it too 😉 This didn’t stop Matthieu and I not to climb all the abandoned roller-coasters of the park under a sky full of stars. We had a really romantic time, in a way.

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Highway To Hell
Nara Dreamland, abandoned, amusement park, attraction park, haikyo, japan, japanese, kansai, nara, ruin, theme park, urban exploration, urbex
Highway Stars

4. Shitamachi

Shitamachi is an area in Tokyo filled-up with old buildings, mostly around Sentagi area and Nezu. In reality, shitamachi can be found anywhere, as long as the place possesses that old vibe that caracterizes the Edo Period.

Shitamachi Vibes
Shitamachi Vibes

3. The Ogushi Mine

“Look! What a funny-looking deer! OH WAIT! That’s a bear! A big roundy fluffy bear!”. Mimi-chan, my haikyo friend is surprised and delighted. It’s her first bear. Second one for me, after a surprising encounter in a swamp in Fukushima. This is not a joke, Japan is full of bears! Since that, I never go out in the wild without my little anti-bear-bell (and my tripod, which might be as useful). We decided to be really careful when exploring the Ogushi Mine by night. I parked the car, played my favorite playlist out loud and we took photos around, dancing under the milky way. I didn’t feel sorry for the bears for the disturbance of the peace.

Ogushi Mine

2. The Abandoned Mine of Nichitsu

For the first time, I had the chance to visit the abandoned part of the mine of Nichitsu. That wasn’t easy, I tried before and failed twice for different reasons. But this time, with my adorable haikyo-buddy Junya-kun (check this blog: Gagaga 7310), we went and enjoyed the colors of autumn at their best. We were only startled once and we had to run as fast as we can! Give me some time to come back to you on this with a full report 🙂 Oh, and this is Joan by the way.

abandoned, haikyo, japan, japanese, mine, ruin, urban exploration, urbex
Nichitsu Mine
Nichitsu with Joan
Nichitsu with Joan

1. Gunkanjima

As for Nara Dreamland, I enjoyed my 4th visit of Gunkanjima in 2014. This time, I went with my good buddies Airi-chan and Marutan with a project in mind. It was also the occasion for Marutan to live one his dreams! But somehow, we all ended-up having a nap at the top of the island for one hour 🙂 During the morning, Doutoku Sakamoto, a former inhabitant of the island, joined and took us to a few places important to him. That was a really beautiful visit and that made of Gunkanjima my best haikyo memory of this year. If you don’t know it already, please check my article about the abandoned island: Gunkanjima, 10 Stories, 200 Photos.

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Gunkanjima: Let’s Go!
abandoned, by-dreamy, gunkanjima, haikyo, japan, japanese, kyushu, nagasaki, on-sale, ruin, urban exploration, urbex
Gunkanjima: The Chair

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Gunkanjima: Apartments
abandoned, gunkanjima, haikyo, japan, japanese, kyushu, nagasaki, on-sale, ruin, television, urban exploration, urbex
Gunkanjima: Teleconic

Voilà for this year ! By the way, what do you think of the new design of Totoro Times? Do you like it? Thanks for liking and sharing this article, I need to restart the Totoro Times machine 🙂 See you all!

  • unique collection.

  • Spiny Norman

    Sorry to go completely off topic, but for some reason one thought came into my mind… Your model friend in #2 should consider a navel piercing. Just a simple one would look absolutely great on her.

    • I asked her to reply to you in person but she seems a bit busy. Yes, that would fit pretty good, I agree! But getting her out for a walk is difficult enough. It might surprise you but she is… the most lazy girl I know! :p

      • Joan

        Hey!!!! Sorry I took my time…hahaha
        I’ve thought about a naval piercing before but decided it wasn’t for me. Thanks for the suggestion though, Spiny Norman.
        And you, Jordy. I’m not THAT lazy!!! okay, maybe a little… I still enjoyed posing for photos.

        • Let’s go for more shooting in 2016. This year should be a year of celebration and, hopefully, booze at some point!

          • lemuellz

            I would love to join you guys for shooting in 2017, if you are up for it?? Do let me know? I am visiting Japan in 2017 and I am an avid urban explorer 🙂

  • Charissa Yih

    I love every piece of your art! I never been to japan and it is in my top travel list. I love japanese culture it is so mysterious and ancient. Basically i am chinese just that japanese inspire me alot. I from malaysia it is a hot country but is a wonderful place with many cultures also. Keep up the good work!! wish to see more..

    • Wah, thanks so much Charissa! I love the mysterious and ancient part, unfortunately most of it nowadays is not 😉 Please follow Totoro Times on Facebook, I am posting a photo there every day 🙂 You are Chinese from Malaysia? I have been with your people.. a lot! For some reason :p

      • Charissa Yih

        Just though so as our people like to go around the world without any reason. Happy that i still can see alot of japan scenery through your facebook! Support you always.. *thumbs up*

  • Aymeric SUTEAU

    Les différentes photos sont sublimes.
    Je ne suis pas spécialiste en la matière, mais y a-t-il moyen de savoir quel genre d’équipement tu utilises ? Est-ce que toutes ces photos sont du one-shot ou est-ce que ça te nécessite beaucoup de retouche derrière ?
    Parce que les couleurs sur certains plans sont assez stupéfiantes, je pense notamment à celui de Shitamachi.

    En tout cas c’est le dépaysement total 😉

    • Merci 🙂 L’appareil photo importe peu (sauf si tu veux faire des grandes impressions) mais ensuite c’est surtout le cadrage, l’heure, les conditions, mais tu as dû voir que les photos n’étaient pas prises n’importe quand 🙂 Sinon j’utilise du Nikon en ce moment et ma lentille préférée pour ces lieux est la Nikon 14-24mm. Ensuite, des retouches, bien-sûr, je n’aime pas les poubelles qui trainent, les têtes qui dépassent, etc 🙂

  • Genna Costello Vogt

    How did I know Gunkanjima would be Number 1 on your list!! Hehehe. 🙂

  • Hi Jordy, these places are all awesome. How do you discover such amazing places? Are there any tips?

    • Mainly time, a lot of time. Also friends. And it took a long time to make the friends who introduced me to such places, especially to gain their trust.

  • Katherine Rees

    Hello! Great photos. Are any of these places in the central Tokyo area? The swimming pool and strip club, for example?

    • One is obviously in Tokyo (Shitamachi), the others are far unfortunately.

      • Katherine Rees

        Thank you so much for the quick response! The reason I ask is that I’m looking for an interesting large space (at least 200 square metres, with a ceiling height of at least 4 metres!), hopefully with some natural light, for an exhibition next February. In Tokyo. It is no easy task! If you happen to have any ideas about where to look I would love to hear them.
        Thanks so much. And again, excellent blog!

        • Indeed… that sounds like close to impossible! What kind of exhibition? You will probably need to rent which might be extremely expensive too ><

          • Katherine Rees

            I have the same feeling but still hopeful! I’ll PM you the details, if that’s ok..

  • Priscilla Ong

    Hello Jordy. I love the photos that you’ve shared with the community. Anyways, I’m headed to Osaka at the end of the month. Other than Nara dreamland, where would you suggest I go around the region? I’m not very familiar with Japan so I’m not sure if those places you shared are in the Kansai region.

    • Nara Dreamland is being demolished as we speak unfortunately 🙁 There is the famous Maya Hotel in Kobe, you can have a look on my website here, I have an article about it 🙂

  • stefan

    realy nice photos 🙂
    i am a photographer from germany and come to japan for a trip
    i will stay in kyoto and found your side.
    i love lost places and will be happy for some tips from you where i can find it.

    thank you

  • Bertrand Haine

    Bonjour Jordy,

    Merci de partager toutes tes belles photos et tes aventures. J’aimerais savoir si tu partageais les adresses des endroits abandonnés où tu t’aventures ?! Je vais voyager à Tokyo en fin d’année et je souhaiterais visiter un ou deux endroits abandonnées.

    Merci par avance de ta réponse 🙂
    Bonne journée, Cordialement.

    • Bonjour Bertrand. Non, désolé… Pour bien trop de raisons, je ne peux simplement pas le faire, que ça soit ici ou en privé. Ensuite pour les endroits “connus”, il suffit de chercher, de demander l’aide d’un amis qui parle Japonais, parfois certains lieux peuvent être trouvés facilement.


Who Am I

azalea, drone, flower, japan, japanese, kyushu, natural, nature, saga, spring

I am Jordy Meow, I am a French photographer living in Japan. My interest is to discover and share information about offbeat and lesser known locations for foreigners coming or living in Japan. I published books and now preparing new beautiful series of guidebooks.