Like many industrial towns and cities in Japan, Muroran has suffered enormously over the years, and it was hit particularly hard in the latter decades of the 20th century. The massive drop in population from 162,000 people at its peak in 1970, to just under 80,000 last year, perfectly highlights its long, irreversible decline. A pace that hasn’t really slowed either, as the figure was still around 90,000 when the photos below were taken in 2014.
However, while such numbers spell out the cold hard facts, it was walking Muroran’s streets that really exposed its plight. In the shopping and entertainment area in particular, where people would have once bought the latest goods and enjoyed an evening out, there were only glowing shop signs. Reminders of the past that are now largely just street lights, as most of the businesses they once advertised are long shuttered up.
In these respects, Muroran really isn’t any different to Japan’s many other faded towns and cities, and yet more than any other, I felt a real affinity with the place. So much so in fact that I’ve often toyed, unrealistically in many ways, of moving up there. Thoughts that returned recently as I start to think about what I want, and what I’m going to do in the future. Hence these re-edited photos from 8 years ago.