Haikyo Adventures in Snow Country

By Michael Gakuran | | Haikyo / Ruins | 21 Comments |

Here’s little teaser of my recent trip with haikyo buddy Florian to the northernmost prefecture of Japan – Hokkaido. What a trip it was, full of everything that makes urban exploration great. And that’s without mentioning all the snow! That put a completely new perspective on everything.

Let’s see then. 7 amazing locations, each quite different from the last. That’s my count anyway. I tend to cut out the failed locations and fluff. Florian has a much more detailed list in his brief post here.

First up, we have the adventure at the Horonai Coal Mine Substation. A quaint little red-brick electrical transformer station that was awaiting us, snowed-in, at the end of a long country road. In bear country. During which I broke my glasses, I might add. Read here!


Second, the Bibai Bio Center. Florian got the chills at this location – figuratively and literally – after I dragged him through the perilous undergrowth concealing marshland and streams to haikyo success. Plenty of delicious decay and mould – no, scratch that, moss. It was moss, right?

Third, and still on the first day here, the semi-abandoned Canadian World. A delightful theme park we had all to ourselves as the sun set and the moon rose in the sky. Glistening snow whispered sweet, nonsensical somethings to us as the harsh winter air threatened to give our fingers frostbite. Stood, we did, with our fingers perched on the shutter button during a spot of night photography.

Fourth, and by far the biggest and most well known of all Hokkaido’s locations, Tenkaen. The lost China Park of Heaven. Here we spent a good chunk of the 2nd day, although I could have spent the whole weekend, seeing all 4 seasons in a shooting session, from blizzards to blue skies. No doubt the work of the gods. Truly magnificent.

Fifth, the ruins of the former Sankei Hospital, severely damaged due to movement in the earth’s crust following volcanic activity around 1978. What turned out to be just a shell of a concrete building (and a tourist attraction, at that) was actually rather fun, owing to the fact that it was pitch black inside and the floors were all slanted in bizarre directions.

Sixth, and into the 3rd day now, the spectacular Hokkaido Sex Museum. Much to my surprise, still very much intact and incredibly graphic. Featuring taxidermy, near-bestiality and Gakuranman’s unfortunate accident involving a pool of concrete-looking water. That didn’t end well.

And seventh. Well, this place is just a little too special to share in the index! You’ll just have to wait and see what I got up to on my final day after Florian and I parted ways…

Well, okay. Here’s just a little titbit to suffice. It involved infiltration into a notoriously difficult location during a heavy snowstorm in the early hours of the morning – twice, an overnight stay in a luxurious haikyo hotel room, a full-day’s shoot around the facilities on edge from security dogs and finally culminating in a perilous drive back to Sapporo along icy motorway roads to catch my flight back to Tokyo.

Seriously. That’s the stuff memories are made of. A huge and hearty thanks to Florian for being an awesome guy to travel and explore with. Now let’s just hope I can get my act together and organise the hundreds of photos I took into readable posts. Full urbex reports soon to come!

21 comments on “Haikyo Adventures in Snow Country
  1. A says:

    Please can you share the locations of some of these – I’d particularly like to visit the House of Hidden Treasure but can’t find it on any maps.

  2. Craig Liley says:

    Out of curiosity, since I know it’s been quite a while, is there still likely to be much chance of seeing the detailed write-ups of the rest of these?

    • Hi Craig. I want to, really! I’m tied up with a bunch of projects right now, but still exploring and taking pictures. Some time in the future they will be written up, in some form. Feel free to subscribe to the mailing list to hear when I write new posts. Thanks again for letting me know your interest :).

  3. Mark says:

    Amazing. I am enjoying reading your posts. Hope to go to Japan in August for the first time. Did you use the om-d e-m5 to take these photos? Or are these the product of an SLR? What lenses did you use?

    • Cheers Mark.

      I did indeed use the E-M5 with a variety of lenses. The most common lenses I used were the 7-14 Panasonic ultra-wide and the 25mm Panasonic prime lens, mostly on a tripod illuminating the scenes with a powerful headlamp.

  4. AdventureRob says:

    Great shots! I’m looking forward to your breakdown of each day. I know of an abandoned place in Fukushima that I should be going too tomorrow to get some shots from. Not sure if it will be snowing there but I really liked how the snow add’s a whole new perspective on your most recent trip.

    Keep on exploring!

  5. g2 says:

    what happened on the final day of your Haikyo? did you have avoid a security dog or something? I’m curious?

  6. Jill says:

    Oh boyohboy do I want to see the pictures and hear the tales!

  7. Best. Haikyo trip. Ever! Many ups, a few downs, great locations, amazing food, fantastic company – I’m looking forward to every single one of your articles and our next explorations together!

    • I have to admit, this one was just so packed full of both ups and downs that it certainly will remain in my memory as one of the best ever! I hope we can top it in the future though :D.

      • Yeah, I guess I forgot to consider that this time the downs hit you much harder than me… Maybe we should go to Korea next. Little spring trip. :)

        • That’s a great idea! We’ll should get a Korean contact if possible.

          I am of course assuming you mean the South… As reckless as I can be, even I have reservations about urbex in North Korea! :p

          • g2 says:

            Urbex in North Korea?

            A’m afraid to inform you that it will be very difficult to acheive and may not be possible

            1) you need a VISA to enter North Korea
            2) you can’t roam freely around that country, you have to join a guided tour group and you will only be taken to designated tour spots
            3) you will most likely be followed around by two minders who will not let you out of their sight

  8. zoomingjapan says:

    Wow, absolutely stunning shots!
    Can’t wait for more! ^__^

  9. Charlotte says:

    Beautiful shots, as always. I can’t wait to see your full reports!

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