20 Best Abandoned Places in Japan 2013
One more year has passed. I had adventures in abandoned places in Japan with new friends, in a different style. In 2012, we were a couple running all over the country, from one haikyo to the other. In 2013, the rhythm got softer and my adventures became more planned and meticulous. I also became more exigent on the quality of the spots, the light and the circumstances. The result? Here it is with my 20 favorites haikyo of 2013. A conclusion? At the end 😉
20. The Temple of Lies
It was cold, rainy. This abandoned temple wasn’t making the scenery look any better either. Fortunately, its sanctuary surprised us and made our trip worth it. The inside is completely out of shape and is full of mortuary tablets. Eerie! Not surprising to hear that this temple was a hoax afterwards.
19. The Russian Village
All the haikyoists know this place. However, I never got to visit this area of Niigata before. The old theme park is in a very bad state but is an interesting land for adventures and discoveries. I wished I had gone when I started this hobby, I am pretty sure I would have been extremely enthusiastic. The highlight is definitely this mammoth so don’t miss it!
18. The Yubara Strip-Club
Kimochi warui! What a shady place for all the love of goats! As soon as I stepped in this place I wanted to run away. Eventually, I visited every room in the place. Impossible to forget this place, it’s like all its former visitors got attached to my hair like parasites. Eeeek.
17. The Abandoned Bowling Alley
There was a very famous abandoned bowling alley in Kanagawa 4 years ago. It was one of my first haikyo trips and we didn’t go inside : there was way too many asbestos warning signs all around the place. It was a very effect way to keep haikyoists out! Since, I have never come across any abandoned bowling alleys until… this one. It lacks character but, as a type of haikyo I have never experienced, I really enjoyed the visit. Mask mandatory, by the way!
16. Kamioka Mine
The Kamioka Mine was a gigantic industrial complex. It also has its own town with schools, a gym and apartment buildings but it seems you had to go a bit further to find a pachinko parlor. Gunkanjima was still a better place to live 😉 I visited the area with the “Haikyo Team”, the official owners of this place. They deserve this title: they went more than 40 times! And the team’s only girl enjoys her own nap time on the floor of the school. Sounds fun?
15. The Gold Mine
Probably one of my shortest visits ever : the tunnel has collapsed a few minutes’ walk from the entrance. It’s nonetheless a very interesting spot : mud, insects and… and… chariots full of gold! Or so I have wished.
14. The Alpine School
Surrounded by mountains, the little school seems to have been built only to be forgotten. But as we get closer, we realize that the area is full of life. All the former students are still living around and are more than happy to share old stories with the casual visitor.
13. The School of the Ghost Plasters
This school was bought back by a sculptor. Then the guy decided to become a teacher since the place was more than ready for it. Years later after its abandonment, the place looks really unique.
12. The Maya Hotel
I went back to this famous haikyo four years later after my first visit. This time, however, I hiked instead of using the Maya Cable-Car. The gruesome structure didn’t change despite its perilous location. Inside, the mythical Green Room is still here with the same shiny colors. The hotel seems really about to fall down the mountain but somehow it holds on. Maybe because it is not really there. Full story available here.
11. The Lake Sub-Station
We jumped on boats then raced against each other. We must have looked like snails snailing on the water; those boats were really damn slow. A long half an hour later, we arrived to the substation. And a few hesitations later, we were jumping in the structure, trying our best not to fall in the water. Cool ambiance, fun place, wonderful scenery. Perfect summery day.
10. Mutsuura Ammo Factory
In the little mountains nearby Yokohama, one can find a black hole kind of entrance that seems to lead straight to the center of the earth. I am really not attracted by this hellish haikyo! After a pitch black descent I turn on my flashlights. I am inside the entrails of a disgusting smelly beast. The only way I can feel alive in there is to play with my lights. This place was an ammunition bunker and factory during World War II.
I took a fantastic travel in the Okayama Prefecture. There, I even met the mother of the lead singer of B’z which is one of my favorite Japanese rock bands! A bit after this amazing meeting, I was exploring this charming abandoned mine.
8. The School in the Forest
I visited numerous abandoned schools last year but this one is definitely my favorite. There are only two small classrooms however everything is still in position : the chairs, tables, the chalk on the blackboard. The day was beautiful and the school is found in the middle of an enchanted forest. I couldn’t ask for more! And there must be thousands of them throughout Japan, just waiting to be visited…
7. The Surgical Lights Necropolis
Terrible contrast with the previous haikyo. This is a modern hospital, monotonous and utterly disgusting. The rats enjoy rocking the place as well as the crows which are flying around excitingly. Only the spirits are really bored with this location. For us, it was not the most fun visit but… finally, when we came across the operating room, we froze! Can’t you see that scary face?!?
6. The House of Mr. K.
This haikyo was discovered a very long time ago by the first generation of haikyoist and immediately forgotten. When it was re-discovered this time, at the beginning of last year, it became instantly overly famous. Its Meiji-era architecture along with its story and its magnificent lighting made our visit very magical.
5. The Hospital of the Crazies
I seldom appreciate this kind of disgusting haikyo but this one is really an exception. I loved the ambiance! There were three of us on this trip and we couldn’t leave each others’ side at all. There were noises everywhere, doors and windows slamming and billions of tiny paws running in the walls and ceilings. Delightful.
4. The Red Villa
It’s always really exciting to be about to enter a very old abandoned house of another time, far away from everything. This little villa is a real surprise, especially for one of the rooms we wound inside : a darkroom from another era ! With all the tools, dry plates, filters and products that the photographers had to use. And a bunch of sexy photos. Oh well, that’s Japan.
Gunkanjima, what else? I spent my New Year’s Day walking on the island. That was the beginning of a very promising year, for sure 🙂 It was raining that day but I turned this into my advantage and spent the whole time visiting the buildings and the rooms I have never entered before. And there will be more adventures and projects about Gunkanjima this year 🙂 Meanwhile, you can have (another) look at my series of articles about Gunkanjima.
2. The Zed Clinic
This old abandoned clinic could have been my haikyo of the year, and by far. It must be so for most of the members of the haikyo community. This is the oldest (known) abandoned clinic in Japan and a lot of ancient tools and personal belongings can still be found. The operating room has a specific design that allows an optimized usage of the sunlight. The doctor’s room has the most Ghiblian ambiance. The place is enchanting. We were welcome by a blue sky and the little wooden building was waiting for us hidden in a thick layer of snow.
1. The Lost Cow
What, is that the haikyo of the year? Yes, it is! Why? Oh, and why don’t you try to guess 🙂 There is nothing inside the cow so don’t think about it too deeply. The truth lies in the atmosphere.
With the change of style of my visits I feel like my adventures became more professional. In parallel, my former excitation went down. However, I think it has contributed to the quality of my images; I definitely spend less time pushing the shutter and I plan more.
I also have a wedding set-up this year (oh, it’s mine!) and I will definitely feel the need for a more quiet and tranquil life. Activities like haikyo are too dangerous and financially draining for a family-man. I plan to recycle my day-to-day activities and apply my style (that grew in haikyo) to new universes. Don’t worry, it’s not the end of my haikyo adventures, just a change of pace 🙂
By the way, did you know I released a book about haikyo last November? A book about North Korea is also a few hours away of its release. Please have a look at my page about my books.