Shitamachi Vibes
Shitamachi Vibes

16 Best Abandoned Places in Japan 2014

Here are my best 16 explorations of abandoned places in Japan in 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 know 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 dead 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.

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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.

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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-buddy 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.

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.

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.


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…


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.


9. Strip Club

The end of afternoon rays wakes 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.

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.


7. Abandoned School in Yamanashi

I am having a great time with Satomi's cute daughters. They love haikyo, modeling and they are the perfect fit for 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.

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 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: an end. This is done now. Ai-chan, in the role of the last family member, discovering the place and, also, her story.

5. Nara Dreamland

My 4th visit to 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 me 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.

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

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.


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, 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.

1. Gunkanjima

As for Nara Dreamland, I enjoyed my 4th visit to 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.

Voilà for this year! Wanna jump to my next best of? Here are the Best Abandoned Places in Japan 2015-2016.

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