We Love Ruins!

There’s a fascinating small subculture in Japan in which enthusiasts travel the length and breadth of the country searching for ruined and abandoned things. Enthusiasts for these ruins (“haikyo” in Japanese) are often remarkably specific in their subjects – subgenres exist for people interested in abandoned factories and industrial plants, apartments, hotels, amusement parks, tunnels and mines, and even abandoned decaying cars.

found in shikoku

On a recent trip to Shikoku I came across a small old shed, long since abandoned and overgrown with bamboo, sitting next to the narrow path through fields of crops. In front of the shed was a small truck, also completely enveloped in bamboo, inside and out. A wonderful example of abandoned human stuff being reconsumed by nature.

further examples – websites

As ruins are so popular among the devoted, dozens of websites have sprung up, packed with photographs and descriptions along with important information such as the means of access via road and train, and often maps of where each ruin can be found. Most of these websites seem to be put together by the amateur enthusiasts themselves.

Here is a personal site
with links to various ruins and ruin-oriented magazines.

This site is quite comprehensive
and has a large selection of ruins to explore.

Other typical examples include

this one


this one

This site
is extensive and features not only ruins but also images of junk shops, old signs and machine parts.

Hundreds more sites can be found with a Google search for “haikyo”.

further examples – books

In addition to the enthusiasts’ personal websites, a number of professional photographers have taken to documenting ruins and have published numerous books, mostly glossy coffee-table style books, one of the most popular being the large format Deathtopia.

Here are a bunch more

and Amazon too has a wide range on the subject: 1 2 3 4

More examples to follow in the coming months…


~ by JapanGasm on 30 May, 2010.

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