The idea of exploring an abandoned town, I must admit, is kinda of exciting. Here in Australia abandoned towns are often cordoned off – certainly abandoned buildings in Melbourne are barricaded and people are forbidden from entering, but in Japan there are apparently a few places you can visit.
I was inspired to write this blog post after reading about an abandoned building near Faisalabad, written by the ever intrepid Tim Blight. (You can read it here: Umar Hayat Mahal, Chiniot’s cursed mansion)
Matsuo is an old mining town in the Japanese state of Hachimantai, not too far from the mountain of the same name. There are also some incredible lava fields not that far away. I learnt of the existence of both from a friend of mine who was living in Morioka whilst I was living in Ichinoseki. Morioka is the capital of Iwate, and Matsuo Kouzan is around an hour north of Morioka.
If you’re going to find an abandoned town, well, it’s likely to have been a mining town. They have limited life whilst the mine they are built around is producing. When it stops, the workers most likely move back to their home towns.
In this case, the mine was closed in 1969 and the town abandoned in the 1970s. Considering this, it’s in remarkable condition. Reached best by car, when I first visited it there were other visitors there. In fact, both times. I returned to film there a story I had written. It had zombies, it seemed to be the perfect place!
If you’re really daring you might explore for days, however it has really become overgrown with plantlife. It was a small path through the trees to some of the apartment buildings which visitors take. You can see the apartment buildings from the road, it doesn’t look like it was a big town, and it looks as if the place was very functional.
And then we explored one building, which was enough really as they all looked identical. It had been mostly gutted on the ground floor, all concrete and no imagination today. But still standing strong. No windows or glass. It’s in the mountains so it’s cool and the wind blew through, it really was very eerie even on a beautiful, cloudless day.
The first floor, up a stair case, not everyone wanted to check out. The apartments there still had a few personal effects there. The floor was missing, the supports were still there and of course the concrete frame. Here we could get an idea of what it was like to live there when it was an operating town. You could feel people lived there.
It’s funny, a great place to explore but in many countries it would probably be too dangerous to do so, however in Japan there was a steady flow of visitors from time to time. One might fall or cut oneself, but there was no sense that people were squatting in the buildings or anything like that. Nevertheless, it was pretty spooky.
If you’re in the area, which is a pretty pleasant spot with spas and the aforementioned lava flow to visit, then get thee a car and visit this eerie yet beautiful place! Thanks for reading – May the Journey Never End!