A long-abandoned and wonderfully untouched old Japanese clinic

In rural Japan, ramshackle wooden structures are commonplace, but few of them are as interesting as the long-abandoned H-Clinic.

abandoned old Japanese clinic

Details are relatively scarce about when it was built, but the general consensus seems to be somewhere around the end of the Taisho period, or the beginning of Showa — so probably some time in the 1920s. And walking through the building’s decaying wooden rooms really is like stepping back in time. Perhaps not quite as far back as the 20s or 30s, but most certainly the post-war era.

There are the medical concerns.

abandoned old Japanese clinic

Along with the medicine and apparatus used to treat them. Some of which are fascinatingly archaic.

abandoned old Japanese clinic

Whereas others seem more akin to a laboratory than a clinic.

abandoned old Japanese clinic

abandoned old Japanese clinic

Although this photograph leaves no doubt about the building’s use, and the occupation of its owner.

abandoned old Japanese clinic

Like the structure itself, little is known about the doctor, but as well as running his own medical facility, his old business card states he also held a position at a Red Cross hospital.

abandoned old Japanese clinic

And as far as personal details go, we do know that he lived in the clinic with his wife and daughter. The deceptively large structure doubling as both a home and medical centre.

abandoned old Japanese clinic

Upstairs there are now only simple, sparsely decorated bedrooms, although the way up there isn’t anywhere near as secure as it once was.

abandoned old Japanese clinic

There was perhaps also a study of sorts, as there is still no shortage of books.

abandoned old Japanese clinic

The downstairs living quarters, however, still give a real sense of how the doctor and his family lived. Decor-wise, the kitchen, like the clinic, is very dated.

abandoned old Japanese clinic

The living room on the other hand is a real mishmash of eras and design. And in this area in particular, the sense of quietness and the slow passage of time that is so much a part of exploring abandoned buildings — whether they be once opulent homes, mountain schools or whole villages — is most apparent.

No noise from the TV.

abandoned old Japanese clinic

No chatting either.

abandoned old Japanese clinic

Plus like many Japanese homes, there is a butsudan, or Buddhist altar, where respects were once dutifully paid to ancestors and lost family members.

abandoned old Japanese clinic

This also has further significance, as the wife was a committed devotee of Soka Gakkai, a lay Buddhist group with huge political and financial clout. The certificate on the wall offering gratitude for efforts in spreading the word, and the portraits are of the current president, and founder of Soka Gakkai International, Daisaku Ikeda.

abandoned old Japanese clinic

Interestingly, in the same photograph, the calendar on display is from 2002. A surprisingly recent date considering the distinctly rundown nature of the building. Other, slightly contradictory reports, have suggested that the old lady and her daughter lived there until about 20 years ago, but even then it’s still hard to imagine someone being resident in the mid 1990s.

What is for sure, however, is that nobody lives in the clinic now, and the building is slowly going the way of its former owners, and indeed all other things.

abandoned old Japanese clinic

An abandoned Japanese murder hospital

Arriving at the long-abandoned IK Hospital on a bright and unusually mild winter morning, the faded wooden buildings of the main hospital on the left, and doctors’ surgery on the right, were surprisingly welcoming.

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In the shade and the surgery, however, it wasn’t quite so appealing. The entrance immediately suggesting the interior would be very different.

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Which the horribly dated and incredibly dreary waiting room quickly confirmed.

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A decidedly gloomy atmosphere that the wall hangings and random ornaments completely failed to dispel.

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Opened in 1951, the hospital specialised in internal medicine, paediatrics and obstetrics/gynaecology. And being very much on the small side — with only 8 or so rooms in the hospital, and half that in the surgery — it’s easy to imagine it being a relatively quiet, close-knit institution. Particularly so as it served a fairly rural and sparsely populated area.

But now it merely serves as a reminder, and similarly there are lots of them in regards its former function, with a whole host of medical equipment and paraphernalia strewn about the place.

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Along with more administrative details such as memos and phone numbers.

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Not to mention the means of communication.

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Time and the elements, however, have really taken their toll. Subsidence is presumably a major factor, which has left some parts almost completely intact, and others in an absolutely dreadful state.

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A fair bit having fallen down completely, with other sections rapidly heading that way.

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Taking, as they go, even more reminders of the past.

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And it’s the past that in many ways makes the hospital so unique; something that is generally a factor with most haikyo/abandoned buildings. Whether it be a once opulent politician’s house, remote mountain village or memory-filled school — they all have stories to tell. Yet none of them are as shocking as the one belonging to the IK Hospital.

Back in 1992, for reasons undocumented, it’s reported that the head doctor went berserk, killing both the staff and patients — each and every one of them. A truly nightmarish event that obviously meant the immediate closure of the facility, and in turn its abandoned state today.

Details are unfortunately scarce, with numerous mentions on Japanese sites never linking to an actual news report, but it is assumed the murders occurred in the main hospital building — a structure that these days gives little away in relation to the horrors that went on there.

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It too has suffered some pretty severe damage over the years, but unlike the surgery, it’s empty, with nothing in the way of hints about the murders, except perhaps this sad, solitary picture.

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An abandoned villa in rural Japan

Long-abandoned homes aren’t uncommon finds in Japan, but western-style ones are another matter altogether. In fact the only one I’ve ever had the pleasure of exploring was a wealthy politician’s house. A building so grand and beautiful that it more than made up for never finding anything even remotely similar. Or at least it did until I became aware of the villa below.

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Built in 1922, it’s fascinating to imagine how truly unique it must have been. A little bit of Europe amidst the rice fields and wooden structures of rural Japan.

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But that was then and this is now. The wooden structures and rice fields are still there, but the villa itself is looking decidedly worse for wear. The ground floor especially is in an incredibly forlorn state, although not quite as sorry looking as this unidentified beast that greeted us upon our arrival.

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Empty, staring eyes that are also on display inside. Quite fittingly in both a western form.

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And a much more traditional one.

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Plus there are the faces of the people who once lived there.

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Or if not the residents, then at least their relatives.

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Strangely personal items that only add to the silence made all the more noticeable by the home’s now defunct forms of entertainment.

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A slightly gloomy set of items that the battered surroundings only add to.

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But upstairs it’s a very different story.

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There’s so much more light, plus nature hasn’t taken quite the same toll. And just like downstairs, there are reminders of the people who once lived there.

Things that they took.

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Took pleasure in.

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Or perhaps tried not to.

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A fascinating couple of rooms that still hint at the building’s former grandeur.

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Not to mention the eclectic tastes of its one-time residents.

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Their interests too, as there is also a small, still well-equipped darkroom.

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But these things haven’t been used or looked at by anyone actually living there for years. Surprisingly there are records indicating a presence in the house as late as the early 1980s, but that’s still 30 years or so ago. A period of time that has seen a huge amount of decay. So much so in fact that a fairly hefty earthquake or simply a few more years of dealing with mother nature could conceivably see the whole thing collapse. And yet despite all the debris and the dodgy floors, the upstairs balcony still looks like the perfect place to relax on a bright, sunny day.

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For more haikyo, Tokyo resident and all-round good bloke, Jordy Meow, has just released a book covering some of the incredible number of abandoned buildings he’s visited in Japan. Details and a preview of which can be found here.

Abandoned homes in an old Japanese mountain village

Tokyo’s sprawling, concrete laden expanse often seems to go on forever, but when one does finally escape it, the scenery can change quite dramatically. Like this tiny village a few hours drive from the capital. A small group of houses nestled on the slopes of a tree covered mountain. An environment a whole world away from that of the nearby capital.

abandoned Japanese home

Hired by the forestry department, the residents lived a very different life compared to their city dwelling compatriots. Relatively isolated, food supplies and the like would have required forward planning, popping out for a bite to eat an impossibility and bears, rather than crime, a real concern. But regardless of the hardships, life there went on. Or at least it did until the late 1980’s. Then, presumably due to a lack of work, everyone simply left.

abandoned Japanese home

And when they did, they also left a good deal of their lives there, resulting in rooms that are now time capsules of sorts, offering a fascinating look at the tastes of the people who lived there — not to mention the times they lived in.

abandoned Japanese home

A period long before the internet and smart phones.

abandoned Japanese home

abandoned Japanese home

And even before Shintaro Ishihara became the loathsome, openly racist former Tokyo governor he is today. His youthful face masking at least some of the malice contained within.

abandoned Japanese home

But politics aside, what’s most striking of all is the sheer amount of stuff left behind. The location most likely making travelling light a necessity — both logistically and financially. Meaning at times it’s almost like the people just disappeared. There one minute. Gone the next.

abandoned Japanese home

An element that, whether it be an abandoned school, hotel or house of the rich, exaggerates the silence. A quietness even more noticeable in a room once filled with music.

abandoned Japanese home

This track by Shinkawa Jiro being one of the records found with the turntable above.

And yet despite such music, the reassuring company of television was even more sought out. The central focus of such technology in each and every living room proving what an important part of life it was. Presumably both as company as well as a connection to the wider world.

abandoned Japanese home

abandoned Japanese home

But these TVs haven’t been used in 25 years or so. Just like this rather forlorn looking favourite chair.

abandoned Japanese home

The same goes for these old toiletries.

abandoned Japanese home

And a load of clothes now forever unworn in the wardrobe.

abandoned Japanese home

All of it set to be left for another 25 years. The only possible visitors being people like me and the occasional bear.

abandoned Japanese home

But there definitely won’t be any more callers.

abandoned Japanese home

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