Abandoned and beautiful Tokyo cable cars

Situated in the western reaches of Tokyo, the Okutama Ropeway has been abandoned for nearly half a century.

abandoned Japanese cable car

Opened in 1962, the plan was presumably to tap into the massive population located a relatively short journey away, but the visitors never materialised. Or certainly not in the required numbers. The ropeway’s short, 600 metre, 6 minute hop from one seemingly random spot on a reservoir to another, clearly not enough to draw the crowds. And so, just 4 years later, it closed, leaving the two cable cars to sit where they were left on that very last day — silent and forever passenger-less.

abandoned Japanese cable car

Beautiful.

abandoned Japanese cable car

Strangely peaceful objects.

abandoned Japanese cable car

Objects that in their secluded, now very natural settings, make for lovely sights. And despite the massive financial losses the project must have suffered. Not to mention the disintegration of at least one persons dream. They are, unlike many haikyo/abandoned places, genuinely nice spots to visit.

abandoned Japanese cable car

An abandoned and atmospheric Japanese school in the mountains

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.

abandoned Japanese 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.

abandoned Japanese school

As such, it is still packed with reminders of school life. Things that were studied.

abandoned Japanese school

abandoned Japanese school

Played.

abandoned Japanese school

abandoned Japanese school

Used.

abandoned Japanese school

And possibly just marvelled at.

abandoned Japanese school

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.

abandoned Japanese school

The only obvious form of escape, besides books and magazines, being a now very battered TV.

abandoned Japanese school

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.

abandoned Japanese school

Of which there was clearly quite a lot.

abandoned Japanese school

abandoned Japanese school

abandoned Japanese school

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.

abandoned Japanese school

All of which seemed to emphasise the inexorable passage of time, along with the enormous changes that have taken place in the world.

abandoned Japanese school

And the complete lack of them at Sazuka Elementary School.

abandoned Japanese school

An abandoned hotel by the sea

Abandoned hotels are undoubtedly the most common form of haikyo in Japan; structures that starkly expose the folly of the country’s bubble era, or perhaps more commonly the gradual decline of once popular tourist destinations. And the Fujiya Hotel in Shimoda is no different, situated as it is in a city that has undoubtedly seen better days.

abandoned Japanese seaside hotel

Shimoda’s biggest claim to fame is that Commodore Perry and his fleet of ‘black ships’ arrived there in 1854, resulting in the opening of the first American Consulate in Japan. Plus far more significantly, the port (and eventually the whole of Japan) was opened to foreign trade.

But within 5 years this pivotal role had been handed to Yokohama. The consulate was relocated. And the city’s decline arguably began.

To be fair though, it’s not all doom and gloom — far from it in fact. Shimoda has some genuinely lovely beaches. Not to mention a wonderfully craggy coastline. Making it a popular spot in the summer, particularly so with surfers and the like. A situation that is ideal for small guesthouses and rental homes, but not necessarily big hotels. Meaning that despite a myriad of guests during the region’s more clement months.

abandoned Japanese seaside hotel

The phone presumably didn’t ring much at all during the far longer off-season.

abandoned Japanese seaside hotel

A sorry state of affairs that, like previously mentioned, has been a common occurrence all over the country. And just like many of the others, the Fujiya contains some interesting things that got left behind.

Dolls.

abandoned Japanese seaside hotel

Chairs.

abandoned Japanese seaside hotel

The obligatory vending machines.

abandoned Japanese seaside hotel

Plus a rather forlorn-looking photo of an unnamed woman, although it could be Okichi, a former geisha from the city whose story is far sadder than the decline of a mere hotel.

abandoned Japanese seaside hotel

And just like other such places, the Fujiya has room after identical room, which can get rather tedious. The hope for something interesting behind the next door almost always dashed by yet another semi-furnished interior just like the last.

This time, however, there were at least a few surprises.

Some rooms are in a truly shocking state.

abandoned Japanese seaside hotel

Although far more interesting is that nature has started to take back a few of the others.

abandoned Japanese seaside hotel

Creating wonderfully atmospheric scenes.

abandoned Japanese seaside hotel

Something that is also repeated in the hotel’s bathing area — a presumably popular feature due to the area’s natural hot springs. As such it’s probably fair to assume that most guests would have gone down these stairs in anticipation of a soothing, restorative soak.

abandoned Japanese seaside hotel

An element that the brochure was understandably keen to emphasise.

abandoned Japanese seaside hotel

But that was then, and this is now. And just like the rooms, nature has begun to make considerable inroads, giving the baths a very different look indeed.

abandoned Japanese seaside hotel

As well as endowing the building with real character. Ironically far more than it probably had when open.

abandoned Japanese seaside hotel

The horror movie-like interior of an abandoned Japanese clinic

Abandoned buildings in Japan come in all shapes and sizes, with each one boasting its own, unique atmosphere. And particularly in regards the latter, the rotting, filthy clinic below, is a world away from the wonderfully welcoming and serene house I’d visited only hours earlier — photos of which can be seen here.

But that’s not to say the clinic doesn’t have character, because it does. Lots of it too. Something its wooden structure really adds to.

abandoned Japanese clinic

But condition-wise it leaves a lot to be desired, with remnants of the building’s former calling scattered everywhere.

abandoned Japanese clinic

Instruments.

abandoned Japanese clinic

abandoned Japanese clinic

Potions.

abandoned Japanese clinic

Archaic-looking glass containers.

abandoned Japanese clinic

And syringes.

abandoned Japanese clinic

Pretty much everything really. Even jars containing things that the imagination can probably make too much of.

abandoned Japanese clinic

Yet quite why it has been abandoned like this is hard to say. Obviously the elements have taken their toll, but as the owner’s house is on the same plot of land — a factor that makes exploration a little tricky — it seems odd to leave the clinic in such a sorry state.

But whatever the reasons, time has certainly stood still since the last patients left in 1970.

abandoned Japanese clinic

Meaning no more calls.

abandoned Japanese clinic

And no conversations with the receptionist.

abandoned Japanese clinic

Which, considering the truly horrific nature of the operating room, is perhaps as well.

abandoned Japanese clinic

The abandoned and beautiful home of a wealthy Japanese politician

Certain types of haikyo/abandoned buildings are relatively common in Japan. Schools for example, and especially hotels — the latter in particular sullying the landscape in countless recession hit resorts.

Huge houses that once belonged to wealthy politicians and social activists, however, are quite the opposite. Unheard of really. But tucked away behind a large wall, surrounded by grounds the size very rarely seen, is such a place. And what a place it is.

abandoned Japanese house

Built out of concrete way back in 1928, the house would have almost certainly been something special even if just a modest home, but, due to its sprawling nature and almost overt opulence, it must have been more akin to a modern marvel. Elements that even now, almost a century later and with the building in semi-ruins, are still very striking.

abandoned Japanese house

The owner of this incredible home was a certain Mr H. Born in 1861 into a wealthy family, he had a varied education and career. In his youth he studied Chinese literature and foreign languages, before being tutored by Nakae Chomin, a political theorist and early promoter of liberalism in Japan. These latter studies in particular had a huge influence on Mr H’s burgeoning writing career, which saw him published in numerous newspapers; the political nature of these articles securing him a position within the influential Freedom and People’s Rights Movement — a prominent group of the period that is credited with the eventual establishment of Japan’s first constitution in 1889.

abandoned Japanese house

This focus and belief then took a further turn in 1894 when Mr H entered national politics; his successful role in the then recently created Diet continuing until 1915. A job and stature that no doubt saw the house he had built entertain a large and influential number of guests, both in the very impressive living room.

abandoned Japanese house

abandoned Japanese house

And in the ballroom-like grandeur of the second floor.

abandoned Japanese house

Needless to say, a building on this scale is a rarity of sorts anywhere in the world, but to find one in Japan really is something special — even more so for it to be long abandoned and left to the elements. Yet unlike many crumbling structures, it’s an absolute joy to walk around. Plus despite the decay, there’s none of the bleakness that often pervades such exploration.

abandoned Japanese house

Instead, there’s a strangely welcoming, relaxed vibe about the place.

abandoned Japanese house

Light, airy rooms offering glimpses of other parts of the house.

abandoned Japanese house

Along with a staircase that wouldn’t look out of place in an English stately home.

abandoned Japanese house

Plus while relatively empty, there are still a few personal items left behind. A good selection of sake cups.

abandoned Japanese house

Some rather ornate paperwork.

abandoned Japanese house

And somewhat startlingly, a pair of false teeth.

abandoned Japanese house

Left behind technology also gives us an indication as to when the house was in use.

abandoned Japanese house

Along with when it was possibly vacated.

abandoned Japanese house

Yet like most haikyo there’s an element of mystery, as despite owning the house, Mr H may never have actually lived there — or at least not for any extended period of time. This is because records show he moved to Kamakura (a considerable distance away) in 1906; living out his days there until he died in 1930, just two years after the house was built.

In many ways this leaves the purpose of the building unclear. Was it a gift of sorts to his former constituency, an area in whose development he played a major role? A base for political events or meetings perhaps? Or simply a grand second home that would double as a legacy for his family?

These are questions we may never find the answers to, but in regards to the current, increasingly dilapidated nature of the house, there are a few hints about its untimely demise. Repairs done here and there with nothing more than bits of tape mean that towards the end the money might well have started to dry up. Plus this huge cooker (in what was clearly once the staff area), had been downsized considerably — in both usage and cost. Suggestions that all might not have been well financially in the house of H.

abandoned Japanese house

That, however, is mere speculation, and the house may well have been in a fairly impressive state when it was eventually shuttered up, with the considerable power of time and nature the main cause of its currently forlorn state. We simply don’t know.

But what is for certain is that as far as abandoned buildings go, it is very special indeed. So special in fact that it was almost sad to leave.

abandoned Japanese house

Remnants of a man’s life in a rotting hotel room

Unlike long vacant homes and schools, abandoned hotels tend to contain very few reminders of the people who worked or stayed in them. And the Tower Hotel, which can be seen here, was no different, with room after room of faded hope and lost guests.

Except one that is, as tucked away in a dark corner of the building was a space once occupied by Kanbe Tadashi.

abandoned Japanese hotel

Whether he was actually living there it’s hard to say, but judging by all the stubbed out cigarettes, it’s a room where he certainly spent a good deal of time. However, with the hotel closing, finding a new job at the very least would have been a necessity. An undoubtedly stressful time that quite likely saw him spend a lot of time sat here. Smoking heavily. And silently staring out of the window. All the while wondering where he would end up next.

abandoned Japanese hotel

Perhaps sometimes looking at his reflection in the mirror too. Each and every time dealing with the horrible realisation that he wasn’t getting any younger, and work would be increasingly difficult to come by.

abandoned Japanese hotel

But, with interviews hopefully beckoning, and future work of some description in the service industry ahead, leaving several of his suits behind doesn’t seem to have made any sense. Clothes that appear to hint at an ending of sorts, but an end to what it’s impossible to say.

abandoned Japanese hotel