Collect your free drugs from this forgotten hospital

Mike Grist Haikyo, Hospitals, Tochigi 10 Comments

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.

[nggallery id=55]


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.


You can see all MJG’s Ruins / Haikyo explorations here:

[album id=4 template=compact]

Comments 10

  1. The pic with the white coats hanging is cool. A little eerie. I just don’t get these abandoned places in Japan. The are allowed to sit there, sometimes with chemicals and medical equipment and human brains accessible to anyone. What the heck does that guy need the wood for?

  2. Hiya, Michael, I see your site continues to get more sophisticated. I’ve been laying low lately as I kind of disgraced myself with a screed against Miro Kim’s art over on YouTube and decided I needed to cool it on my web comments for a while. But I look at every one of your dispatches with great interest, and look forward to them.

  3. I’m amazed by your ability to capture light in these photographs; every one of them is just beautifully lit! The new photo interface works well — i like it.

  4. Post

    Tornadoes- Cheers on the coat props, I think it looks a little out of place though. It seems more fun to make these little ‘interactions’ than it is effective to shoot them. The wood- who knows? I first guessed just for firewood, then he was wrapping it up like a baby- one of life’s little mysteries.

    Velo- As ever, thanks for your support. I’m curious what your issues with Miru Kim were- though don’t want to encourage you off on another screed you’ll later regret. I’m interested in emulating her style- though for that I’d need some models. I have tried shooting myself some; as in, arms and legs, of course not as full-on as she does.

    aspectsublime-You flatter me, for which I’m very grateful! 🙂 Capturing light is what I’m definitely after, I basically don’t use flash these days, unless there’s a room I want to shoot for exploration purposes. Flash ruins the natural fall of light I think- I like to have things shadowy and unclear sometimes.

  5. LOL. . . I just thought she (Miru) saw an opportunity for 15 min of fame that no one else had exploited and went for it rather aggressively, but geez, so what? Live and let live! It’s kind of a NYC thing. There’s a clamoring for success here that borders on the maniacal at times.

    As far as emulating her style, that would disappoint me, as I think your style is great just the way it is! It’s refreshingly honest and accessible. Your freewheeling curiosity about things, people, and places is exceedingly enjoyable, for me, at least. It has a kind of art value of its own, but in a journalistic rather than academic way. Well, just my two cents. Emulate if you want.

  6. Post

    Velo- I appreciate you sharing your thoughts, and for being honest that you’d be disappointed. I can’t speak to Miru Kim’s deep intent- whether she’s just after the 15 minutes or not- but the way I read it is a little different. She says she started shooting herself because, after shooting the empty places for some time, she felt that she needed to add a character to them. This is something that I’ve felt myself, after shooting lots of locations- they start to seem a little empty, and even bland. Her idea to throw her body into the mix is- I find- the simplest and most elegant proposal. Take a shot of yourself standing and grinning in your regular clothes and it’s just holiday snaps.

    I sometimes try the creative interactions- but they’re no substitute for a character, they’re just more signs of absent life. Recently I shot some people in Final Fantasy cosplay outfits in a haikyo- by random chance they were there on a game-shoot- and that kind of direction may be something I look into, though not so gaudily. I suppose we’ll see. My next post tomorrow will feature a few shots including people.

  7. The cosplay idea would probably look a bit like a fashion shoot. Although people these days are defining stuff like David LaChappelle as Art. . . I think it’s great to experiment. I think that, by definition, Art, or perhaps I should say “one’s aesthetic” develops slowly over time. I think if you keep maintaining this site, and just following your curiosity like you have been, an aesthetic will develop, and in fact already has. Blogging taken as a whole then becomes an Art medium. It would be the whole sum of what you’re doing rather than trying to produce single discrete works of art.

  8. I agree with your point about using natural light. Your photos I have enjoyed the most are usually the closeups, which generally require little additional light, using the existing light available, rather than the room shots which often need more light to enhance detail as without it is just too dark. Though you have had some great room shots, one in particular with the desk and leaves sticks in my mind weeks later in Nichitsu. For instance, on this page, 6, 15, 27 and 30 are my favourites, all are closeups. The photos that have more distance seem to have either poor light or could have been taken at a more optimal angle.

    I hope you not mind my comments, I have been reading for months and feel you appreciate the feedback. I take the same style of photos, but rarely post them, because so few seem to appreciate it. Perhaps I was wrong and there is a market out there, with so many liking your photos. 🙂

    I looked up Miru Kim’s site and wasn’t particularly impressed. Perhaps in only three of fifty photos did she add something to the photo or the scene. Otherwise, she just seemed to be in the way. Cool locations though. But if you are looking to do something similar, can you please take SY with you as model, not use yourself? No offense dude, but, you know…. haahaa

  9. I love picture #7, it’s very steampunk. I agree with tornadoes28 with the matter of abandoned places- I live in upstate NY and there are a variety of derelict structures around the area, but the majority of them were completely gutted upon closing save for the really heavy machinery. The fact that these places in Japan are left almost untouched is a miracle for explorers like us.

    1. Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *