With Japan’s population rapidly ageing, it’s really not surprising that so many abandoned — and sometimes perfectly preserved — schools exist. Plus combined with the equally rapid migration to the cities, it’s even less surprising to find such places in isolated areas and mountain regions. Locations that are feeling the full force of Japan’s changing demographic, resulting in the end for countless small communities, and also Sazuka Elementary School.
Situated next to a tiny, and now equally uninhabited village, the school closed way back in 1977, but remarkably it wasn’t declared officially shut until March 1990. A decision that, along with its back of beyond location, perhaps explains why so much has been left behind.
As such, it is still packed with reminders of school life. Things that were studied.
And possibly just marvelled at.
Being a good way from anything even remotely resembling civilisation, there’s also a small living area that housed a couple of male teachers. A setup that must have been more than a little cozy to say the least, consisting as it does of just one room and a kitchen.
The only obvious form of escape, besides books and magazines, being a now very battered TV.
That’s not to say the school’s female teacher had it any easier, as she often stayed with a student’s family rather than make the long trek back to wherever it was she lived.
But like most abandoned schools, the most striking thing about the building is its silence. Where once there was music.
Of which there was clearly quite a lot.
There is now very noticeably none. Which, while we were there, only magnified the sound of rain from a slow moving storm hammering down around us.
All of which seemed to emphasise the inexorable passage of time, along with the enormous changes that have taken place in the world.
And the complete lack of them at Sazuka Elementary School.