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: in Ashio Japan learned the true cost of industrialization, that of crippling environmental damage, as sulfuric acid from the factory’s numerous smelter chimneys coagulated in the atmosphere and fell as acid rain, poisoning the water table and blistering the mountains …

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. The Mine Complex, wooden rails and roofs in broken cascades around it. The Power Hub was the first building …

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- ask most people here what their religion is and they’ll say they have none. To judge from that and popular culture, the country seems remarkably secular. There is no institute with regular services like Church, there is no one book …

Ashiodozan Ghost Town

MJG Ghost Towns, Haikyo, Tochigi 10 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 2009, it was a creaking conglomeration of fading facilities- a power station, numerous barricaded mines, a train station, a temple, a school, the factory, and a small town of tumble-down wooden apartments, haunted only by a few aged holdovers with …

Nichitsu 1. The Ghost Town’s Junior High School

MJG Ghost Towns, Haikyo, Saitama, Schools 4 Comments

The abandoned Nichitsu Mining Town sits cramped into a narrow valley at the head of a long and buckled road in the mountainous western edge of Saitama. It was once a thriving company town with hundreds of families, the women staying at home in their rickety timber apartments, the children at the large wooden high school, and the men down in the mines digging for tin. But that was at least 20 years ago- since then the town has been relentlessly pounded by avalanches and ravaged by decay. All around the buildings stand with their roofs and walls caved in, …