This was my second time to go to the Asama Volcano Museum. The first was on my first haikyo road trip back in 2007- back when I was packing only a cameraphone to shoot with and cared far more about the explore than I did about the photography. It was an amazing place to ‘discover’ for ourselves, our nerves on high wires the whole time as the ethereal music rang out from the rooftop. In the two intervening years the balance of my interests has changed, with photography coming to the fore, perhaps naturally, over exploring. The Asama Museum has been shot pretty extensively though, and it’s becoming a challenge to see it in a new light.
From the fore, in HDR.
The volcano museum was much as we left it that first time. All the doors were unlocked, the big fenced-off generator still hummed away, music still played on the observation deck, and the mysterious orange antenna room remained as mysterious as ever. It was the second haikyo on our first day, after the chutes and ladders of the Hume cement factory. As ever we split up on the way in, each taking a different door. I headed up the side, to the observation deck, where Lee and I chatted a bit and took in the view.
The front edge of the observation deck has been smashed away by time, volcanic eruptions, and weather.
The observation building, with orange antenna room. Last time we were there it was all covered in snow.
One of my favorites in this set.
100 yen per use.
After the observation deck I moved into the body of the museum, from the top down. I bumped into Mike every now and then, and we talked shots and camera settings briefly.
Compare this shot to one from two years ago:
That’s got to be volcano damage, as the windows and frames are buckled inwards. Unless a vandal was tugging from the inside, you wouldn’t see this pattern of destruction. It’s quite awesome. Imagine chunks of rock flying through the window!
(Actually that’s not the exact same position, as you can see from the landscape- but was all basically the same)
A side store-room, this fella was high up on a shelf.
One curious thing we discovered this time, largely due to the Gakuranman pushing the switches he found, were the working lights and displays on the museum level. See here:
It’s strange that they’d leave power connected, it’s strange that the light bulbs would still work after so long, and most of all it’s strange to walk between these ruins with the ghost of their once-life shining through. Strange and cool. Did they replace the lights as they went? Was it someone’s pet project, for a bit of fun? Either way, the huge generator in the wire fence supplying them with power is no meager expense. It’s huge, and no doubt cost a bomb. Presumably it is for the volcano research project, connected to the antenna room. Probably the lights and music are just someone’s pleasant side project. Bringing the past to (uncanny) life.
Smashed displays alongside uncanny lights.
Explaining natural local life cycles.
This baby stuffed deer used to stand in the dark on the topographical map a floor above. I (shock horror!) picked him up and moved him here.
And moved him here too. I didn’t leave him outside though, so he won’t rot, don’t worry.
Mike found a dead snake in jar and we all clustered around it like paparazzi desperate to get the best, sharpest shot.
How a snake in a jar is connected to a volcano museum I’m not really sure- perhaps part of describing the local natural life cycles of things in the vicinity.
Towards the end of our explore me, Mike and Lee walked up the Oni Oshi Dashi park path a bit to shoot the museum from a fresh angle. All the while we were mostly waiting for the Gakuranman to get done on the inside, shooting the snake, and other dead things he found pickled in a series of small jars.
My third favorite.
Now the skies have changed, grown darker.
We stood in the cold for a while waiting. When Gakuranman emerged we all rolled up our sleeves and went back to shoot the dead things in jars. None of my shots came out well though. They were just mice and tiny squid.
Lo- some video:
Feedback on the photos is welcomed.
See other posts on the Volcano Museum here-
See more Japanese ruins (haikyo) in the galleries:[album id=4 template=compact]
You can also see a curation of world ruins in the ruins gallery.