Old and long-abandoned Japanese villages are hard to top when it comes to looks and character, but this wonderfully faded and atmospheric little mountain settlement more than holds its own.
Slowly deteriorating signs for souvenirs and refreshments point towards better, and previously busier times, yet just like so many of Japan’s old resort towns and crumbling day-trip destinations, they are now little more than dying reminders of a very different past.
The clearly visible decline unsurprisingly imbues such places with a very real sense of sadness, and yet at the same time there’s also a certain element of beauty involved. An unconventional sort of beauty it has to be said, but for me at least the poignant mix of unknown memories and natural decay exudes a quiet, subdued charm all its own.
Below then are the photos, which for what it’s worth were taken just over 4 years ago. It’s a location that will live long in the memory, both for the village itself, and the bar in the last shot. The latter is the only one in the village, so it’s where the local men, and men only, go to drink and basically be bawdy. Nothing out of the ordinary there, but the reaction we got when we opened the door was anything but normal — the slack-jawed, utterly disbelieving looks going way beyond anything either of us had experienced before. An entrance that also garnered a chorus of, “Foreigners!”, followed by a barrage of questions that made for a full-on experience to say the least. To be fair though, after realising we weren’t overly weird, and that we were more than willing to join in, the far more important business of drinking and gambling quickly took precedence once again, meaning another ordinary night in what for us was an extraordinary place.
The green building! 😮
Yes, it’s fair to say it had definitely seen better days!
The tapered base on that building in the next to last photo indicates someone familiar with the earth shaking helped to design it. My prediction, that particular building will be around a very long stable time. (At least, the foundation will be.)
Interesting. Had no idea at all about that. It was nice to look at, but I have to be honest and say it was only the tobacco sign that caused me to take the photo.
I’m happy the bar was fun I would have been way too scared to go in!
It was definitely more than a little intimidating. Even just opening the door, let alone stepping in. But very glad we did.
Kudos to you for being so adventurous to go into that bar! You came away with some great memories….and so did the men there.
With often no way of knowing what lies inside, entering many little bars can still be a bit intimidating, but they are almost always worth it, even if the initial reaction can be quite the event! And this one was definitely worth it. Like you said, a memorable evening for all involved.
Interactions like those can help overcome some of the ignorance or even prejudice that some people in Japan have about foreigners. And they often go home and tell family and friends about these ‘gaijin’ they met who were friendly and interesting to talk with. 👏👏👍👍
That’s so true. One time a friend and I were were travelling in Hokkaido, and we stopped at a little old place very far from the tourist path. Everything was fine and just as normal, but in the morning as we were getting ready to leave, the owner said we were the first foreign guests she’d had, and she’d been worried about it. But she said she’d enjoyed having us, and she needn’t have worried at all. Her honesty was refreshing, and it was lovely to hear that the experience was an unexpectedly good one for her.
Great story with the these amazing photographs. Reminds me strongly of some of the interactions in Hokkaido Highway Blues.
I know they say a picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes a little background story to accompany them helps snap the fuzziness of possibilities into an 8K Midnight Dineresque vignette of a real encounter with real people.
Thank you. Ah, yes. Good call. Hadn’t thought about that. Being a huge Alan Booth fan, I didn’t expect to like that book, but I throughly enjoyed it. A borrowed idea done in a very different way.
Glad to hear that. Sometimes I wonder if I should write less, so good to know I got the balance right here. It was also nice to write about the bar and relive that very memorable evening.