Summer is the time for scary stories in Japan. Putting the supernatural aside, nothing scares and fascinates me more than the realization of humanity’s ephemerality in the decay of abandoned buildings or haikyo (廃墟). One of the most well-known ruined islands is Gunkanjima, which is now open for tourists. In general, however, haikyo explorers are trespassing on riskier territory. There are many skilled photographers and bloggers who document their urban explorations in both English and Japanese. After seeing their work, I don’t think I would have the courage to go to these places. Here are a few links in English to get you started on discovering the world of haikyo through the camera lens.
Get your imagination going by perusing the photos and travelogues of a wide variety of abandoned buildings, towns, hotels, amusement parks, and more. The most unsettling set of photos for me are from Nara Dreamland. In 2006 the park closed, but I remember going there in 2003 with my host family.
Check out Gakuranman’s beautiful and haunting photographs from the white stone mine. His five part series on The Royal House Haikyo is a fascinating story of a family and the ethics of exploration that will suck you in.
気をつけて。”Leave only footprints, take only pictures.”