Serene Desolation in Japan’s Mountains

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Yet another visitor to Japan’s multitude of abandoned mountain places provides a haunting photographic record of a village as it is slowly reclaimed by the forest from which it was hewn.

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“Jizō-san [stone statues representing the Buddhist divinity Ksitigarbha commonly found throughout Japan] had some flowers. The graves were also well kept. A deserted place with a human presence is even more scary…”

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“There was a temple type structure there too. Boarded up. With ‘Under police investigation’ written on it. Something happened there it seems.”

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“There’s a shrine here. The local gods really are quite wonderful.”

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“The shide [paper streamers used to ward off evil spirits at Shinto sites] were new, it seems people still come here. Wondering what I’d do if one came is quite scary.”

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“Why’d it get abandoned? It’s so pretty. A dam or something?”

“I think just because it is very inconveniently located. Especially to the elderly. The landlord probably at least comes to clip the grass.”

“So nobody lives there at all. Did you go inside any of the buildings?”

“The remaining houses were all locked up. Going in them would be a bit, well, you know.”

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    103 Comments
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    Comment by Anonymous
    14:44 25/05/2011 # ! Good (+0.8)

    I really can't fathom why so many lovely places in Japan have been totally abandoned. Is everyone migrating to the urban centers? It seems a shame.

    Avatar of Katameido
    15:00 25/05/2011 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    Logically, if they didn't abandon these places at the first place, the natural beauty of them most likely would already be torn apart to build huge buildings and stuff.

    Avatar of S|e|7|e|N
    Comment by S|e|7|e|N
    16:30 25/05/2011 # ! Quality (+0.8)

    I Doubt that... It would be rather hard to build any sort of large buildings on that terrain. Also, judging by the pics, there's no roads TO the village. It probably got too hard for the residents to keep in contact with the outside world.

    It would be nice if someone found one of these secluded villages still occupied and living their lives traditionally.

    Avatar of Uncommon0taku
    Comment by Uncommon0taku
    21:59 25/05/2011 # ! Good (+0.6)

    ^^ this.

    Simply accessability issues.
    When the younger generation moves to the cities for jobs and better education. The elderly linger, until they either die off or move in with their city dwelling relatives.

    There aren't that many folks who don't mind living out there in the boonies.
    You're either crazy, reclusive, or can cultivate rare goods that can only be made in the country.
    This is one of the reasons certain people were considered national living treasures - once upon a time. If there were no one to apprentice and pass on the skills then those national treasures eventually fade into the past.

    Some of these mountain villages have probably been seen in old movies - well at least the ones with access to roads. But the more secluded ones. Have like this one, simply been abandoned. Except for relatives who have ties & fond remembrances of their roots.
    Eventually these folks too will fade as they too won't be able to make the pilgrimage due to age & fraility.

    If I were a bit more well off, I could easily homestead out there.
    Simply fly in supplies to build my final home out there, by chopper. And start building. All I'd need is a dish and a few wind generators, to start with.

    The winters are indeed beautiful up there & the air is so clean, best of all no door to door con-artists & no crime.

    ^_^

    Mebe, I'll just check with my relatives and see if there is any property out in the countryside for me to look after.
    Aye, the relatives on my mom's side are mostly still in Japan - she's nisei (Hawaii born 2nd generation) which makes me.....

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:35 25/05/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    actually a few still do exist, Shirakawa-go is a national heritage site and the setting for higurashi (people still live their) and no it was never called hinamaizawa in reality.

    Comment by Anonymous
    16:20 25/05/2011 # ! Good (+0.7)

    Hey, it's better there than in Edo.

    or Detroit

    Avatar of Shima-kun989
    Comment by Shima-kun989
    16:24 25/05/2011 # ! Good (+0.4)

    i swear sancom logs me off at random times

    Avatar of Uncommon0taku
    Comment by Uncommon0taku
    22:04 25/05/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    maybe its beacuse of the "troll blocker"
    ^_^

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:01 25/05/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    It is worth noting that huge stretches of inland Japan look a lot like this. Most of the development has taken place on flat land in river valleys or along the coast.

    Avatar of Artefact
    Comment by Artefact
    23:42 25/05/2011 # ! Astronomical

    This is quite true - most of Japan is forested mountains unsuitable for much interesting activity.

    Looking at the village (hamlet might be more appropriate), I am puzzled as to what economic activity they could really be doing there... there are no fields and no land suitable for grazing sheep or goats, and certainly no mining or otherwise.

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:59 27/05/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    the terraces that they used to grow their rice have long since fallen away because there was no one to maintain them.

    once modernization became common place, there used to be a travelling vendors who would deliver commercial products & staples like rice salt and other basics. Until that vender could no longer make the harrowing journey or his clientel simply dried up.

    -miyaoes
    yea i fer got to log on

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:43 26/05/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Would make one *heck* of a tourist spot, though!

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:44 26/05/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Don't you read Manga or play video games? Clearly the village has been overrun by the shibito!

    Avatar of Ota-Kool
    Comment by Ota-Kool
    16:11 25/05/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    And yet after the Nuclear leak the Japanese living in Sendai prefer not leave they hometown maybe near Danger zone.

    Avatar of Shippoyasha
    Comment by Shippoyasha
    16:03 25/05/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    To be frank, many of these places are scenic and it's fun to backpack and take day trips once in a while (Used to do a few of it in school) but to be perfectly frank, it's BORING. It's not the kind of energy and excitement of going to a city for example.

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:40 25/05/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    As far as I know, the desolation of small rural towns in Japan happens when pretty much all the young people move out to big cities for jobs and old people either die or move closer to their children. Japan has low birth rates and that combined to movement to big cities creates these villages... Although some people still live in these villages, at least part of the year, as was mentioned in the other gallery.

    I remember seeing a documentary about this...

    Avatar of Katameido
    15:06 25/05/2011 # ! Good (+0.6)

    Whenever I watch a Japanese horror movie/dramas that take place in creepy rural villages, I sometimes wonder how they manage to pick the best location without even spending that much for background props. Now I see why... and this just make me want to go there to film a horror mockumentary flick :)

    Avatar of Shima-kun989
    Comment by Shima-kun989
    17:00 25/05/2011 # ! Quality (+0.8)

    DID YOU HEAR THAT?! WHAT WAS THAT?!

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:09 25/05/2011 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    LOOK OVER THERE... IT'S...IT'S....... ARTEFACT!!!!!!!

    Avatar of Nue
    Comment by Nue
    10:33 28/05/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    waw this scene look exactly like fatal frame 2

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:11 26/05/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Take a snow-mobile tour of the Colorado Rockies.

    "And this village was abandoned because everyone committed ritualistic suicide in the coal mine for no reason!" becomes a frighting commonality.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:34 28/05/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    ritualistic suicide=no reason?

    huh?

    Avatar of Shima-kun989
    Comment by Shima-kun989
    13:59 25/05/2011 # ! Good (+0.6)

    hmmm... for a temple, there aren't many Miko's.
    I'd even settle for a ghost!

    Avatar of loliFapinator-kun
    Comment by loliFapinator-kun
    14:08 25/05/2011 # ! Good (+0.4)

    I'd fap to a miko there I'll even make the trip myself. haha

    Avatar of PirosThe3rd
    Comment by PirosThe3rd
    18:32 25/05/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    maybe there is a ghost miko ?

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:57 26/05/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    A ghost miko and various moe kemonomimi spirits?

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:06 26/05/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Or a half human, half ghost.

    Avatar of Milky
    Comment by Milky
    13:59 25/05/2011 # ! Good (+0.4)

    That's a very creepy location. Just looking at the shots makes me get the chills! Its like Siren, but in the real. Yikes, I wanna go!

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:56 26/05/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Free lodging for cheapskates!

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:37 25/05/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    The large stockpiles of firewood in this village and in the last one make me wonder if there really are still people living there even if only seasonally.

    Another idea that I tossed about with a friend of mine is that maybe these were work camps of some kind then they just abandoned them after the work was done.

    But as the photographer mentioned someone is definitely still taking pretty good care of this place.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:03 26/05/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Well when I went to europe I visited a 'deserted' village it wasn't really deserted it was like a holiday rural town. The friends I went to visit bought a small house in the town and used it on the weekends and summer holidays. Yet there was no one living there. If you were to just walk through that town you'd think it was also deserted. So maybe this place is simalar or something? People still own the houses and thats why they are locked still and people just come here to get some peace and quiet these days.

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:28 26/05/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    You would be suprised how long firewood lasts, especially when kept under cover as the wood in these pics happens to be. I have seen woodpiles fifty years old that look as good as the ones shown here.

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:07 25/05/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Fatal Frame

    Avatar of KingFisher
    Comment by KingFisher
    16:50 25/05/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    I also find it a shame to see these buildings abandoned. It's such a beautiful area and it gets my adventurer's blood going. I mean the place looks like something out of a drama set. These places seem to have some kind of magic to them don't they?

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:34 25/05/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Wow! Breathtaking-beautiful.

    :-)

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:47 25/05/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Nice place...kind of lonely but it works

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:42 25/05/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Someday if I need to hide out somewhere I think I should go to japan and hang out in those villages

    Lol not a bad hideout Osama should have went there XD

    Comment by Wisteria Berlitz
    17:32 25/05/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    I kinda love seeing this kind of pics

    Avatar of shinryou
    Comment by shinryou
    19:08 25/05/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    any info on where that is?

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:03 25/05/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    This just screams Higurashi no Naku Koro ni.

    Comment by Anonymous

    That's exactly what I thought when I saw the shrine.

    Avatar of Eleriel
    Comment by Eleriel
    18:21 25/05/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    I thought of Mushishi before I thought Higurashi... but yeah. definite resemblance.

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:37 26/05/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Same here, thought of Mushishi with the first photos, then to Higurashi when he mentioned the local gods and the ‘Under police investigation’.

    Avatar of Erin Bushay
    Comment by Erin Bushay
    20:57 25/05/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Mushishi as well here.

    Avatar of Angel Mercury
    Comment by Angel Mercury
    14:11 25/05/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Makes me think of Fatal Frame 2.

    Sad it's not being lived in anymore, seems a really pretty place to be.

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:41 25/05/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    The setting is indeed Fatal Frame's, but the dreadful colors and the fog in a distance made me think of Silent Hill.

    This place would make a good Silent Hill in Japan(Mu Oto No Machi/Mura).

    Comment by Anonymous
    21:47 25/05/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Nobody lived there because they ran out of type 90 film.

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:04 25/05/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    hmm its not as eerie as the last set, but this one has a serene and tranquil feel to it. It'd be a good place for a pilgrimage to go see such temples.

    Oh by the way is that a half skull/ jaw in pic 16?

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:23 25/05/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Looks like a pig or something. It could be a wild animal that died there after people left, like a serow. I've seen a Japanese serow in person, and they're creepy, almost demonic-looking things.

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:09 25/05/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Looks like a broken deer's jawbone. Maybe a small horse or donkey?

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:33 26/05/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    It's a pig's jaw though.

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:17 26/05/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    pig's tooth look more like human tooth... so it's most likely a deer





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