Top 5 Japanese Ghost Towns

MJG Best Of, Ghost Towns 16 Comments

Common wisdom about Japan says it’s a tiny island with a serious premium on space, leading to real estate prices in the cities higher even than the most exclusive blocks of Manhattan. The thought that there might be whole abandoned towns on this island seems a paradox- how could a country with so little space abandon anything? Well, they do. …

Gunkanjima Opens

MJG Ghost Towns, Haikyo, Nagasaki 7 Comments

Gunkanjima opens to the public! The famed ‘Battleship Island’, properly Hashima island- formerly a haikyo Holy Grail, has now been opened to tourists to ‘explore’ along a specially built walkway. The cost of the trip is 4,000yen, including the ferry ride out to the dilapidated island. Tourists have up to one hour (weather permitting) to wander the walkway before they …

Memories of Nichitsu 4. The Dr.’s brain in a jar

MJG Ghost Towns, Haikyo, Hospitals, Saitama 26 Comments

Nichitsu is a tiny little village huddled in a chilly mountain pass, far from the nearest population center. Come an emergency the Doctor’s office would have been the only ER, so its few rooms were crammed full of equipment, now forgotten and lying in shadow: rusted iron operating tables, toppled X-ray machinery, birthing stirrups lying in puddles of water and …

Nichitsu 3. A fire truck in the ghost town

MJG Ghost Towns, Haikyo, Saitama 5 Comments

Nichitsu Ghost Town stretches for around a kilometer, from the semi-functioning mine shacks at the mouth of the last tunnel, up past the Junior High School, the heavily dilapidated wooden apartments, and buildings stacked off the steep hillside on concrete supports, round a hill of white lime-chips, past the Doctor`s office hidden somewhere in the thicket of buildings, up to …

Nichitsu 2. Elementary school in a Ghost Town

MJG Ghost Towns, Haikyo, Saitama, Schools 16 Comments

At the dead-end of a blast-hewn road snaking up through the mountains north of Tokyo, imprisoned by sheer moss-rocked walls looming overhead like rotting Gothic colonnades, the Nichitsu mine ghost town lies in wait, wreathed in a low mist and perennially dusk-lit by the overhanging crags. It hums with a crippling weight of nostalgia, of enfolded memories playing out again …

Ashiodozan 3. Factory and Train Station

MJG Ghost Towns, Haikyo, Mines / Factories, Tochigi 19 Comments

Despite 400 years of powering Japanese industry, of mining, processing and shipping one of the most essential early industry elements in some of the hardest and most dangerous conditions around, Ashio is remembered far more for its flaws than for its accomplishments. Ask any Japanese about Ashio, and they’ll give you a response straight from their high school history textbooks: …

Ashiodozan 1. Shrine and Apartments

MJG Churches / Shrines, Ghost Towns, Haikyo, Tochigi 20 Comments

Life in Ashio would never have been easy, and certainly not at the peak of production around 1910 when 39,000 people called it home. Crammed into a narrow river valley, blasted by freezing winter winds while living in uninsulated plywood apartments, many would have turned to the ‘kamisama’ or Gods for spiritual succor. Japanese religious beliefs are a little complex- …

Ashiodozan Ghost Town

MJG Ghost Towns, Haikyo, Tochigi 9 Comments

Ashiodozan copper-mining town in the mountains north-east of Tokyo is infamous in Japanese history as a site of extreme environmental damage- so much so the town was mostly abandoned 40 years ago, the mines and factory shut down, and new standards in environmental care called for at the highest national levels. Now it’s a ghost town. When I visited in …