Haikyoing is kind of an addiction. Every time I get back from a long haikyo weekend, trudging through dusty overgrown schoolhouses and factories, I say to myself- ‘that’ll do, pig’. But then a few weeks or months later I’m always out there again, doing much the same thing, striving for a more authentic experience, a more exciting explore, more mind-blowing shots. Sometimes I get it and sometimes I don’t, and resultingly sometimes the articles I post here find a larger audience and sometimes they don’t.
Here you can find the most popular posts of the year, sorted not by me but by you, the readers of this site, according to how much you voted a post up or down via social media buttons, how much you linked to it, and chiefly how many of your eyeballs looked it over.
10- Osarizawa Mine
2,525 views, 8 Retweets, 5 Stumbles, 18 Japan Socs, 10 Japundit Votes, 17 comments
Osarizawa is one of only three of my more recent haikyo explores (along with number 9 and number 2) to make it onto this list, which surprised me. It was shot with my Nikon d90 dSLR, whereas all the others were shot with a Canon Powershot compact camera. It was a more recent explore, so it’s true that it hasn’t had the time the others have to be seen- though a popular website i09.com borrowed shots from it with a linkback. That sort of thing probably helps my Google Pagerank, but clearly didn’t send that many click-throughs. It makes me wonder if people are more interested in straight up explores and documentation of explores than they are of more artistic (I hope) shots. I’m interested to hear what you think in the comments.
One of my favorites.
It’s true that there is only really one photo in this post- the shot of the Osarizawa Chemical Pools from various angles. There was other stuff there, an excellent factory on a hill, but shooting it and showing its grandeur proved very tough- it was just too long, with too much nothing stuff either side of it.
Chemicals eating a tree.
2,589 views, 4 Retweets, 10 Stumbles, 18 Japan Socs, 12 Japundit Votes, 12 comments
The only other post shot with d90 to make it into the top 10. I was beginning to shoot more regularly in HDR, using a cable release to bracket shots smoothly. The interior was very dark, as the whole structure was completely surrounded by thick overgrowth, so exposing the brighter shots fully could take up to 30 seconds.
It was probably this haikyo that made me realize most I needed to get a wider angle lens. I wanted to capture all of the interior rooms, but was just unable to do so, bounded by the limits of the walls and rooms themselves. I still got shots I’m pleased with, but acquiring wide-angle (Tokina 11-16mm) since then has really opened things up.
Straw beds decay.
3,257 views, 2 Facebooks, 7 Japan Socs, 14 comments
I’m surprised this is on here, though it did gather a number of linkbacks on various minor blogs. I think its appeal is more in the garish nature of the decorations in each room than from the fact that it is a haikyo. Love Hotels, Soaplands, these things generate more interest than haikyo do for obvious reasons- so any time my path crosses with them I tend to get a bit of a spike.
I tinkered with the shots I got from my Powershot camera a fair bit, to try and best show the wallpapers and bed artifacts at their utmost garish, with as little distraction from the ruin as possible. Some ruin is graceful and worthy, while others is just a bunch of plastic bags, empty drink cartons, and half-burnt porn- not very photogenic. I tried to chop most of it out.
3,932 views, 5 Retweets, 3 Facebooks, 6 Stumbles, 9 comments
Amazing place, loved it, wish I’d had my d90 and better knowledge of photography when I went, as it’s unlikely I’ll return. Quite a trek to go there just to see it. Not much to say about shooting it, other than in low light was very tricky, especially in the mammoth hall.
I’m not sure if I had a tripod then, but in every contained space I did all I could to open windows and doors to let in natural light.
We arrived at night and explored under cover of darkness. That was great, nail-biting fun.
4,545 views, 2 Facebooks, 4 Stumbles, 9 Japan Socs, 9 comments
My second time back to Sports World (see the third time here), hoping to ‘do it justice’. I wasn’t using HDR then, but did manage to capture some great shots of the water tubes, a whole side of the park I didn’t see on my first trip there.
5,550 views, 4 Facebooks, 1 Stumble, 15 Japan Socs, 56 comments
A long-standing favorite on the site, with the most comments of any post I’ve put up- I think because it’s one of perhaps two haikyo (the other being the Negishi Grandstand– 29 comments) to have a connection to the English-speaking, American world. Soldiers served or were involved with them both, and can come to respective pages on my site and remember the good old days.
Antennae, shot through the fence.
I was surprised at first by this trend, then felt quite warm and cosy inside that the explore I’d done had had this unintended consequence, of bringing up some good memories and even acting a little bit like a friends reunited kind of thing.
Shot from within one of the antennae, about 5 stories up a ladder.
5,668 views, 4 Stumbles, 20 Japan Socs, 12 Japundit Votes, 36 comments
One of my earliest explores, packing only the Canon Powershot compact camera, this post is also the all-time most popular post on my site, with 58,000 page views. It all happened very suddenly too- some Japanese news site linked to me and sent almost all that traffic to me over the course of a few days. For a brief while I felt famous, riding high. It’s funny how a tiny slice of exposure can do that for you. For the week following, as the spike trailed off, I entered a phase we could only call withdrawal. That’s a problem of rampaging ups, there’s always a down to follow them. Much better is a steady, gradual ascent, where you can always keep your feet on the ground.
In line with that, general viewing stats on my site have increased steadily over the nearly two years it’s been active, approaching 40,000 per month:
It looks low in December cos we’re only a third of the way through. The massive spike in 2008.08 was the Queen Chateau. Which leads me to clarify, this top 10 is not only of places explored in 2009, but simply of the most popular explores on the site in 2009. The three month spike in early 2009 was when I had a lot of quirky Japan content, weird conveni products, cosplay girls, stuff like that, and was posting it every day. Anybody think I should go back to that breakneck pace?
Her daunting visage.
The ladies who await.
6,269 views, 11 Japan Socs, 11 Japundit Votes, 21 comments
I’m surprised to find this one in the top 10, let alone so near the top. I can’t really explain it. It’s not as gaudy as the Akasaka Love hotel, nor as ruined as the Pearl Love Hotel, or as impressive a hotel as the Shin Shu Kanko. It was great to explore though, so perhaps that’s why? Few of the shots stand out. Perhaps it attracted someone’s attention and got a lot of linkbacks, that’s all I can guess.
7,064 views, 14 Japan Socs, 11 Japundit Votes, 9 comments
My second time back to Nichitsu with the d90, seeking out the brain in a jar in the Doctor’s Office (reportedly now stolen). Somewhat surprisingly that post is not in the top 10, though it was quite anticipated. Perhaps though, at number four and coming after three other posts on roughly the same topic, people had got a bit tired of Nichitsu. Either way, the Elementary School takes second place.
24,058 views, 15 Stumbles, 9 Japan Socs, 12 Japundit Votes, 15 comments
There’s a lot of stuff in Ashio. Some of it is plain to see, though fenced off, like the Degawa power station, the main factory, the mine hubs. The shrine though is a little harder to find, set back up an overgrown path, shrouded from view by a screen of trees, up a steep hill. It is one of the haikyos, along with love hotels and soaplands, unique to Japan.
It drew several link-backs from places as diverse as gamer’s message boards (it looks just like Silent Hill!) and geocaching sites (perhaps because there was something like a geocache in the second shrine, a plastic bag with notebooks and pens that served as a kind of haikyo guestbook). I don’t know if it would top my personal top 10 list, but it would certainly be up there.
Faded out apartments
Well, that’s the 2009 top 10. I’m all ears to hear your thoughts, comments, theories, as to how the list shook out like this. Where are the other Iwate mines? Where’s the bowling alley and Keishin hopsital?
Also I’ll welcome any suggestions, if you’d care to make them, on what I can do to improve this site, make it more accessible, make it more of what you’d like to see.
2009 was a good haikyo year, let’s hope for more in 2010!
You can see all the haikyo on this site in the Ruins/Haikyo Gallery.