The Toyoshin Convalescent Centre is an oddity already sunk from the consciousness of the neighbouring area, something the local kids don’t even notice as they walk past it to and from school. No fences or barricades of any kind guard its door or driveways, packets and vials of medicine lie side by side with discarded medical records and X-ray equipment on its shelves, but no-one ventures inside because- why would they? The place is a shell neither ominous nor dangerous- something old men potter around inside singing enka songs while searching for scrap firewood, a non-place already fading from existence.
The banality of this haikyo struck me hardest when the old chap came on in. He rolled up on his bicycle humming some tune, and at first I felt concern, then even worry- he might be a security guard, or perhaps he would call the police, or would he be angry and we’d have a blazing argument?
None of that happened though. He saw me on the third floor taking his photo as he rolled up but he wasn’t dissuaded. He came on in, singing to himself, wandering around seemingly without a care. We met up on the 5th floor and I gave him a grin and a sunny- ‘konnichiwa!” He replied, smiled back, then went about his business, and I went back to mine.
X-ray remote control in the wall.
This increasing banality leads me to change the way I present these haikyo. First off- I’ll go to a gallery style, so beneath a few choice photos at large size (as above) and one continuous block of text, all the best photographs will appear in a block of square thumbnails. You can click on them for a larger view and more information.
Secondly I’ve re-worked the Ruins / Haikyo page so it’s sub-divided by haikyo type, and added a Ruins / Haikyo Gallery that takes all the best shots and divides them into categories like- Rust, Light – Shadow, Bodies, and so on. At the bottom of this post you’ll find the thumbnail menus for these new layout pages.
Why do this? Well, as I visit more places and grow bolder with each one I visit- the ‘exploration’ aspect seems to be tamping down some and I focus more on the ‘artistic’ side, trying to interact with the places to get better and more interesting photos. Previously I was shooting everything and presenting it as interesting exploration, not necessarily interesting photography.
That balance may be changing now. You’ll still get the exploration in the text block, and you can follow it through the gallery, but the focus will be more on the best photos I can get.
That said- here’s a photo of the old guy as he leaves, from the roof:
The old guy it turns out was scavenging wood. I popped into his room a few times to have a bit of a chat in my meagre Japanese. He was ripping paper from the wooden frames of old paper screens, in a room that had already been much picked over. He took this wood down to his bicycle then wrapped it up in white cloth like he was swaddling a baby. I have no idea why he would do that.
Of course he asked me in return what I was doing there, so I explained how going to haikyo was my hobby, how I used guide-books and the internet to find them, and I actually lived in Tokyo. It was a very pleasant exchange.
This haikyo I wanted to try some more ‘creative non-destructive interaction’. I’ve done this a little before with mixed results- it’s basically shifting things in the haikyo around into unusual or even bizarre poses. Then take a photo. For example this time I:
Set 2 desks on their ends with a third across them like a Stonehenge slat.
Hung a long bench through a big hole in a wall.
Set the X-ray remote control into a hole (pre-made) in the wall.
Strung a long piece of banister plastic down a hall and looped it up through a hole in the ceiling.
Slung two white coats on hangers and hung them from an emergency exit sign.
Hung two couch cushions from nails on the wall.
I took photos of all of the above, but almost none of them turned out to be good or interesting- you can check the gallery below to see what you think.
Location – Tochigi.
Entry – Very easy, straight in with no fences.
Highlights – Chatting to the old guy, making the creative interactions even if they didn’t photograph so well.
RUINS / HAIKYO
You can see all MJG’s Ruins / Haikyo explorations here:
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