Ashiodozan 2. Mine and Power Plant

MJG Ghost Towns, Haikyo, Mines / Factories, Tochigi 18 Comments

Mining for Copper began in Ashio over 400 years ago, on the chance discovery of a surface lode by 2 farmers tilling their rocky topsoil. Shafts were dug and miners sent in, the process was commandeered by the Shogunate of Tokugawa Ieyasu, and production went into overdrive. Soon the copper coming out of Ashio made up 40% of the nation`s supply, driving the engines of Japan`s industrialization, providing coinage, plumbing, roofing, wiring, and material for a wide range of household goods.

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The Mine Complex, wooden rails and roofs in broken cascades around it.

The Power Hub was the first building Su Young and I came across after shooting the factory from across the river and crossing the oldest bridge in Japan (made in Germany). From the exterior it looked bland, there were no extensive bundles of wires going into or out of it- at best we expected a warehouse with a few bits and pieces in it.

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The warehouse front looks pretty basic.

We got off our bikes, rounded the side-fence which hung out over a smaller rivulet (“Be careful!” I keep saying to SY, “Hug the tree!” She laughs at me…) and cruised round to the back entrance.

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I followed Su Young in and was instantly rewarded. In the center of the dusty space amidst shafts of light thrown through holes in the roof lay some hulks of huge rusted machinery.

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Something out of a steam-punk fantasy.

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Ceramic pylon heads look like deep-sea mines.

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Ingersoll-Rand manufacturer`s mark

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Fusebox.

After toying with levers and switches a little, we left. Feeling peckish we sat down in the middle of he road (SY`s idea, because it was in the sun) and ate trail mix. Neither of us had any real food.

Next came the first sign of a mine. It was a 3 or 4-building complex gathered round a mine-mouth, heavily fenced-off and across the river. I approached the fence and judged the best place to cross- the razor wire on top had been cut at one point at the edge, a little too close to the drop though for comfort. I wandered round to the side and through some reeds looking for a safer way- down to the river, across, then back up.

*Come on then!” called Su Young. I turned back to see her. Of course, she had already gone over.

I suppose I’m actually quite timid when it comes to these things. I like to know the lay of the land utterly before I make a move, to know for sure I’ve done everything I can to minimize any risk of being hurt or being caught. Su Young on the other hand just goes for it. I think that’s pretty awesome.

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Those long narrow windows make it look like a bird-blind.

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Me standing overlooking the wreckage, like a still shot from an apocalypse movie.

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Mine entrance and wrench. SY was ready to bolt, a security guy had just given the place a once over (us flattening ourselves against walls to remain hidden), so going even further in just didn’t register.

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Next, the final part, the Factory and Train Station.

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Sulphuric acid tanks on left, factory on right, one remaining smelter tower out of shot right.

CONTENTS

Ashiodozan Mining Town- 1. History and Relics

Ashiodozan Mining Town- 2. Shrine and Apartments

Ashiodozan Mining Town- 3. Power Hub and Mine Complex

Ashiodozan Mining Town- 4. Train Station and Factory

You can see all MJG’s Ruins / Haikyo explorations here:

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Comments 18

  1. I am surprised there was a security guard there. Who would he work for?

    Wow, can’t believe you found some Flux Capacitors. So they were working on time travel there as well I guess.

  2. You’ve captured the Ruins really nicely with your new camera. That mine entrance in particular looks menacing …

  3. I’d say that the symbol you are wondering about is the Rolls Royce emblem.
    If I’m not mistaken the machinery looks quite close to that:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corliss_valve
    And here is the Rolls Royce actual logo:
    http://www.chantillyrobotics.com/team/documents/Rolls_Royce_logo.jpg

    Looks pretty close to me, and since Rolls Royce has been making industrial engines for years, it could be that. Plus, car makers emblems often evolve throughout the years.

    Hope this helps.

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    Author

    Tornadoes- Security guard yeah, I’m not sure. They had a few temporary security boxes on the bluff overlooking the factory- I think they’re there because they’re still demolishing the site, so lots of earth-moving equipment was lying around. He was only swinging by one every few hours though, so perhaps he’s more like a janitor for the whole area.

    Paul H- Thanks, wish I could’ve gone in the mine, but, well…

    Jean Rob- That is quite close isn’t it, thanks for the input- I suppose they wanted the very best machinery for the mine.

    Ted- Chuck Norris! My favorite Chuck Norris fact- ‘There is no chin behind Chuck Norris’ beard. There is only another fist.’

  5. Awesome pics bro. Really interesting to see a side of Japan’s history that I would never in a million years have ever thought about!!!

  6. “Me standing overlooking the wreckage, like a still shot from an apocalypse movie” great shot!
    I love the smell of ashio in the morning…smells like…history. (-:
    Keep up the great work. This series is really interesting.

    Loco

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    Author

    Alice- Thanks- I love doing this kind of discovery, and learning real local history I can reach out and touch- glad you like it too.

    Locohama- Great comment, thanks a lot- I don’t often put myself into the photos or the site, but that one, taken without my knowledge, I just dig for what it is. You just need a person standing there, doesn’t matter that it was me.

    Kuroneko- Good call, nice dating skills.

    Jean Rob- Very gracious sir, and thanks for link.

    Aino- Good question- I can tell you it’s probably not a residence, that it’s likely an office- I suppose part of the operation that is currently demolishing/refurbishing some of the factory.

  8. “What does this symbol mean?”
    I believe that that is the logo of the Ingersol Rand company, makers of industrial compressors.

  9. There is another way to get into the mine in your picture above. It bypasses the trespassing and the breaking and entering. You can just walk right in there… no razor wire, no fences. There are bears in Ashio however…

    I used to enjoy haikyo (i’m particularly interested in mines) but now i’ve got a visa it’s just not worth the risk of deportation…doesn’t it bother you? I guess it doesn’t. You’re clearly in love with you adventurer image too much!

    Cheers R

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    Stanley- good call, thanks.

    Furward- I`m interested to hear how you entered the mine without having to climb a fence. Is the fence gone, were the gates open, or did you manage to find another way round? I wondered about dropping down into the gulley and climbing up the other side, but that hardly classifies as just walking in. As for being in love with the image of adventurer, perhaps if I was Ranulph Fiennes or Bear Grylles we might be able to make that claim. As is, the best I could call myself is an `explorer` who occasionally has mild adventures.

    About deportation- it has crossed my mind, but only in regard to a few haikyo- chiefly the US Air Force Base, and Gunkanjima. Most others I think are fine.

  11. The legal aspect is actually kind of interesting… Does anybody know about it? How is trespassing handled in Japan? Different punishment for foreigners? How do you react when you get caught by security or even police?

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    Florian- I`ve been `caught` a few times, but nothing resulted from it. Once at Osarizawa mine a tour guide from Mitsubishi tried to get us to pay the tour fee and ride with him on the tour bus. At Ashio a security guy saw us leaving and just said- `you shouldn`t be in here`. We agreed, and left. At Kappa Pia, which was more a construction site than a haikyo, the workers came over and told us to leave.

    I`ve not yet encountered police in a haikyo. If they were to get involved, I think it would be at sites that are still `live` to some extent. Then, right, who knows. If it`s private property the owner still actively cares about, I suppose they can prosecute. It`s one reason I avoid live sites. Also because if they`re live, they`re not really abandoned. As long as they`re abandoned, I don`t feel like I`m doing anything wrong.

    An example- I recently found a bowling alley that is shut down. It shut down very recently, but access to the inside would be easy. However I get the feeling the owners are not done with it. They might come back and re-open at some point. To go in there and `explore` would not feel right, would in fact feel criminal. Compare that to the Toyo Boru, which has clearly been written off and is in ruins.

    This doesn`t answer your question about punishment though. Does anybody else know about that more specifically?

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