Over the last few years I’ve had the good fortune to photograph several abandoned mountain settlements not that far from Tokyo. There was this surprisingly large collection of houses and buildings, some remarkably intact homes of former forestry workers, and the crumbling structures of a long-empty hamlet.
This latest find doesn’t contain quite as many personal items as the others, but what it lacks in old photos and possessions, it makes up for in atmosphere. The late August heat and humidity meant there was no shortage of greenery, but at the same time the foliage blocked out a lot of the summer sun to create a suitably fitting half-light of sorts.
There are also enough houses and decay to offer intriguing hints about the lives once lived there, and indeed how long it has been since the last resident left. A slowly disappearing time capsule that is very much of a particular period and place, and yet there’s also a distinctly universal element at play as well, evoking as it does those ever-present human preoccupations of impermanence and the relentless passage of time.
These are so good it’s like a movie set or video game brought to life. Thank you for sharing such views of Japan so few of us know.
Thanks a lot. Definitely a fascinating place, and yeah, you’d be hard pushed to create anything more incredible.
You are very welcome. Photographing such places is an absolute treat.
I would love to find somewhere like this but until then I can enjoy through your awesome lens! 🙂
Do hope you do one day. It makes for a wonderful day out. I was extra lucky in that a friend found this place, so all I had to do was bring my camera. Doesn’t get much better than that!
As always, great photos! There’s a feeling — an atmosphere — that’s hard to put into words with these images. I can only imagine how exciting it was to find and document. I’d love to one day explore places like this in Japan. Until then, this is the next best thing. Thanks for sharing, Lee! I hope you’re well.
Thanks a lot. That’s really good to hear. All I can do is try to capture some of the unique atmosphere, so if a bit of that comes through in the photos, that’s fantastic. Everything I could hope for.
And yeah, it’s incredibly interesting. So much to see and enjoy. The rest of the world fades away when you are in a place like this.
Hopefully you get the chance. Lots of abandoned locations that’s for sure. Weather-wise it was a struggle as the humidity was horrendous, but this time of year does make everything lovely and green. Be all rather brown later or earlier in the year.
You are very welcome. As I said above, photographing such places is an absolute treat. And thank you very much. I’m doing ok all things considered. Days out like this are a huge help that’s for sure.
So glad that you are getting out and about to enjoy days like this one. Doing things which bring you pleasure aids in the healing process
Thanks a lot Richard. Yes, it really does. The day was a welcome escape in so. many ways.
Beautiful colors! I really like that last picture.
Cheers. The humidity was absolutely awful, bit it did make for some lovely colours.
That last shot was interesting. Overall the house didn’t really look that much, but took a quick photo anyway just to document it, and surprisingly it looked stunning. The complete opposite to so many other scenes that looks special but then somehow don’t work quite so well when I take a photograph.
Thanks for the great images. The two that struck me in particular were the posters for the 1964 Olympics lived in.
You are very welcome as always. Yeah, the Olympic poster was wonderful. The perfect time to stumble upon it as well. A very different era, and for so many reasons, a very different Olympics.
I lived in Tokyo from 1969-71. There were huge conflicts over the US security treaty/Okinawa and the Minamata disease was troubling. But the country was on the upswing from the 64 Olympics and boosted by the 70 Expo. There was an air of optimism about its prospects for the future in the context of great social cohesion. Sadly, things are so different nowadays. The lost 2 decades, the demographic/low birth rate problems, the Triple Disaster, and now the pandemic. Feckless leadership which refuses to move forward in a proactive manner is very distressing.
Yes, very different times. Looking back there was the introduction of the shinkansen too. A modern country most definitely on its way up. And obviously it was. But as you said, quite different now. Suga is on his way out. A man who made Abe look some kind of dynamic visionary titan. But we all know that his replacement will be very similar. Different face, but essentially the same policies, same party, and almost certainly the same political family background.
My wife always made a point of voting, but at the same time she always used to despair at the lack of viable alternatives to the regime that, bar a few years, has ruled the country since the war. It’s no wonder there is voter apathy, and alas it’s no wonder nothing ever changes…
Such a lot to see in this collection you have shared with us. Thank you. The final photograph in the series is the money shot for me. Those vertical lines.
So much to distract me too – what year model were those two cubs, can’t find anything on that splendid cassette system, what material was that olympics poster put on to still look so pristine, and the 1970 Expo… I have a model of the Tower of the Sun watching over my shoulder. Apparanetly over 64 million people visited the Expo – that’s the current population of the UK! Love the fire pit too – that certainly makes it feel an old place even before it was abandoned.
Thank you. And you are welcome. Exploring and photographing this place was an absolute joy. Well, aside from the humidity and the many souvenir bites I came home with…
That poster is made of what must be the finest 1960s vinyl sheet. Or at least something like that. No deterioration or colour fade at all.
It was a karaoke cassette system if that helps. There were several cases nearby with all the music that was presumably once blasted out.
I went to the old Expo site a good few years ago. Sadly the Tower of the Sun wasn’t open like it is now, so will have to go back. Still incredible to see though. That was my reason for going, but you can also see lots of photos and stuff from the Expo. All the uniforms that were worn too. Really interesting.
Tim H. says
Nice find! I would sorely tempted to grab that ’64 Games poster and the Expo ’70 book or leaflet or whatever it is!
Cheers. They were definitely interesting, and I was so pleased we found them, but to be honest the idea of taking them never really entered my head. Without a doubt they’d have been unique souvenirs of sorts, both of the village and the actual events, but ultimately they’d have probably ended up in a cupboard or drawer and seen by no-one. I was lucky enough to find them, so it seems right that future visitors should get that chance too. That said, if it’d been a suitcase full of cash, or a couple of long lost gold bars, it might have been a little different!
everytime passing the place it felt so quiet, peaceful, yet also eerie and sad. From every photos you have i could imagine how they used to live, what they used to do, what they use to talked about. and imagined how if the place never abandoned to begin with.