The derelict Taro mine lies at a generational crossing point- once a place where raw sulfides were dug from the earth, now it functions as a cosmic ray laboratory for a nearby University, capturing electrons from outer space in several large heavily wired pools. It was the first of four mines on our Iwate shopping list, ranked number 3 in all of East Japan.
Down on the Great Hall, from the third tier.
From the outside Taro looked like a live site. There were new signs for Meisei University, and several new-ish buildings. We parked on the verge outside and wandered in, gawking at the huge ray-vats with their arrays of jacketed transformers.
The Grand Hall was breath-taking, just as I’d hoped.
Great Hall, from the second tier.
On the second tier Mike whisper-shouted to me.
“Mike! There’s something moving down there!”
Immediately I thought it might be security.
“Is it security?”
“I don’t know.”
I padded over and stared down into the weird bollard lines. Something was moving, but what?
“It’s a pig!”
“Is it a pig?”
“It’s a giant pig!”
“Or it’s a goat. Maybe it’s a deer?”
The goat-deer-pig thing looked right up at us, and we looked right down at it. Nobody moved. Then I gallivanted off to get a zoomier lens, and it raced back the way it had come.
Mike identified it later as a kamoshika/serow, a goat-like antelope, apparently very rare.
On the second tier.
Fuses without a spark.
At the top tier Mike looked to a rusty walkway and declared his intention to climb it.
“I’m going to climb it.”
“You must be mad.”
I messed around trying to film a cluster of twittering bats while he shifted chunks of metal-work around to get to the stairs. Eventually I followed him- the stairs proved quite sturdy.
Ar the top we could cross a rickety bridge, look around the control room, and see down into an adjoining hall.
A side hall.
There were a lot of other abandoned buildings nearby, but these days we’re less interested in penny-ante ruins. One exception was the community centre.
Listen up, you!
Where will we go next? For ruins as striking as this latest set, we’ll have to go even further afield. Osaka area is feasible, perhaps even beyond. If you know of any great locations- please let me know.
People who follow this website will probably know I get most of my location information from one book- Nippon no Haikyo. This is really an excellent book, with 200 ruins locations listed with maps, subdivided into 2 top 100 lists for East and West Japan.
In East Japan the top 6 slots look like this:
1- Ashiodozan Mining Town (went to with SY, very big)
2- Kamaishi Mining Town (went to with Mike, demolished!)
3- Taro Mining Town (this post, with Mike)
4- Osarizawa Mine (chemical pools, went to with Mike)
5- Negishi Grandstand (next to US base, went to with Mike)
6- Matsuo Mine Apartments (awesomely misty, went to with Mike)
Five of the top 6 are mines, four of which are in Tohoku area (Northern Japan). After this trip, I’m able to cross them all of my list.
The rest of the top 10:
7- Kappa Pia Theme Park (went to with Mike and Jason, while it was being demolished)
8- Habaro Coal Mine (Hokkaido, not been there yet)
9- Horunai Coal Mine (Hokkaido, not been there yet)
10- Russian Village Theme Park (went to with Mike, Jason, and Scott)
At some point I’ll have to get up to Hokkaido to see what they have to offer.
You can see more haikyo explorations here:[album id=4 template=compact]