Saturday, November 07, 2009
Haikyo! Konomai Gold Mine in Hokkaido
Like a year ago, I took an interest in Haikyo, Japanese urban decay. Products of modern civilization, usually modern overzealous spending, that have gone to the wayside. I bought a book, subscribed to a bunch of blogs, and got my tripod ready to go building hunting.
But apparently my interest went to the wayside too. A recent article from VICE says that urban decay is for lazy journalists. I'm no journalist, but I am lazy, and I can say that it takes a lot to get up and drive hours out of town to see this stuff.
I adopted a new philosophy about this stuff. I'll be an accidental Haikyo finder. If I'm out and about, and run into something random, I'll try my best to check it out. That's just what happened in Hokkaido.
The farmer I was working with took me for a few hours to a nice countryside onsen. On the way back, he pointed at a crumbling chimney in the distance, and in his broken English told me about a gold mine in the area that closed back in the 70s. I noted the spot, and headed out there the next day.
Konomai was the site of the biggest gold mine in Asia in the 40s. A town was built around it, housing some 13,000 people. But then it dried up, and the ground was basically leveled. I walked around for a couple hours looking for anything of interest.
One appeal of Haikyo for me is the ghost factor. The more fucked up the situation was, the more fucked up the spirits are gonna be, right? A love hotel might have some crazy Shining type thing going on. A school? Maybe ghosts of kids murdered by the night janitor. A gold mine though. Think about what might have gone down. Like B.I.G. said, "The chedda breeds jealousy". Dude dies in the mine while his wife is having an affair with the foreman or something. Vengeful ghost enacts his wrath upon all.
I searched and searched for anything freaky.
Then I heard a crash.
My motorcycle had mysteriously fallen over. The back end caught the guard rail, but if it hadn't, I would have been down in a ditch without a clue.
Took that as a clue, and headed back to finish milking cows.