The Corrosion of an Elephantine Haikyo Bus

By Michael Gakuran | | Haikyo / Ruins | 23 Comments |

The last rays of light were falling behind the trees as I exited a cursed love hotel, but my sense of excitement had yet to fade. So before wrapping up my solitary ruins exploration for the day, I decided to sweep the neighbourhood. A haikyo bus lay awaiting me in the undergrowth…


I found it being cradled like a baby by an autumn tree. A colourful little gem of decaying grandeur, covered with vines, rust and a thick layer of weathered dust. But what stood out at me more than the decay was the cute little cartoon elephant illustration on the rear.


At that time and even the time of writing this blog post, I was convinced the bus had been the means of transport for some sprightly group of children, all wearing their colourful pouches and caps for school. But as Lance pointed out in the comments, the inscription on the rear of the bus clearly reads ‘Chiba Flour Mill Inc.’! Boy do I feel embarrassed…

It hadn’t even crossed my mind to translate the kanji. Perhaps I can get away with saying I was just *that* engrossed in the corrosion that I overlooked it..? Hmm… Still, the little mascot wearing a baking hat makes sense now, in an ‘elephants naturally bake bread’ kinda way.


But anyway, making my way around the bus, I found a shot that immediately jumped out at me. Vines clinging to the side and leaves clogging the wheels in a throttling attempt to reclaim the bus for nature. I didn’t have a lot of light left and the skies had begun to open threateningly with rain, so I made haste snapping away.


The front of the bus, once proud and strong claimed a rather gloomy spot overcome by weeds. I had to wrestle with the wet undergrowth and weeds, pricking myself in the process, but somehow managed to get a stable posture for the photograph. I kept wondering if some old man from the village would hear me rustling around and come running out with a rake or something, but then realised that would never happen. Much more likely to be a bamboo cane or katana.


The driver’s front seat was vacant. Peering inside through a broken window, I tried to imagine the sort of person that might have sat there. I was itching to get inside the bus too, but to my dismay it was completely full of debris and rubbish. Evidently the locals here were using it as some sort of wood storage unit.


The bottoms of my trousers were drenched by this point and I realised I had no umbrella. Still, such was the awesome thrill at discovering a new haikyo (even if it was just a lowly bus), that I stuck around a bit longer, attempting to capture some of the striking red rust strains bleeding from the puncture holes.


I took one last look at the metal beast before making my way back to town. The rain had started to come down heavier now and I had a long way to walk back to the rural station and a shinkansen to catch home that night. But I was satisfied with the shoot that day and success of my first solitary haikyo exploration in Japan. Perhaps that warmed me up a bit.


I’ll be sure to post that cursed love hotel haikyo I mentioned in due time, with creepy video footage too. It was a completely different experience going at these things alone. Senses heightened, every little bump in the dark made me nervous, and it didn’t help that I’d read about the horrible history of the murder there before going. Be sure to stay tuned!

23 comments on “The Corrosion of an Elephantine Haikyo Bus
  1. Sara says:

    Have you ever been to Hokkaido? I live and work in Hokkaido at the moment and as a hobby have been photographing abandoned buses and houses (and a really creepy factory) I’m so surprised to find this whole haikyo scene in Japan! Although, not very surprised, and things in Hokkaido are pretty cut off from the rest of Japan! Have you ever been up here, because seriously haikyo buildings are more common here than lived in buildings! Hokkaido is one big ghost town. If you ever fancy coming up here I would be more than happy to go exploring with you!

    • Gakuranman says:

      Hey Sara. Hokkaido is on my list! I need to get my driver’s licence first though, as that is what is restricting me from exploration most. Drop me an email and remind me. Could be a cool trip!

      • Saraturrill says:

        I know, I also don’t have a drivers license which is pretty difficult up here, as public transport leaves a lot to be desired! If you ever make it, I can let you know of some good areas and places, but pretty much everywhere here has abandoned buildings left right and centre!

  2. Gakuranman says:

    Uhh…yes… All changed now ^^;;

  3. Akira-san says:

    “I kept wondering if some old man from the village would hear me rustling around and come running out with a rake or something, but then realised that would never happen. Much more likely to be a bamboo cane or katakana.”

    Katakana. Was that on purpose? :D

  4. Gakuranman says:

    Uhh…yes… All changed now ^^;;

  5. Akira-san says:

    “I kept wondering if some old man from the village would hear me rustling around and come running out with a rake or something, but then realised that would never happen. Much more likely to be a bamboo cane or katakana.”

    Katakana. Was that on purpose? :D

  6. mantosz says:

    I really like the 4th picture. It's like a piece of art.

  7. Sagar says:

    Landed here from DPReview. A nice set of photographs supported by sweet writing style

  8. Lightweaver2 says:

    Fascinating story and images. Saw your post on dpreview.

  9. Eric says:

    Great pictures. I like the first one, with the plant growing above the Hino emblem, best.

  10. Gakuranman says:

    Thanks Jason! No way of getting into the bus :(

  11. Gakuranman says:

    By jove! You're right! Now I'm feeling a little embarrassed! I hadn't even thought to read the kanji on the side because it just seemed like it would naturally be a schoolbus, what with the little character and all. Now the baking hat makes sense though! Thanks Lance. Will edit the post to reflect this :)

  12. LB says:

    I think that is a company bus, not a school bus. It says “Chiba Flour Mill Inc” and “Hanazoujirushi Flour” on the sides and back end.

  13. Jason Collin says:

    This looks more like a haikyo than the other poles post. You couldn't get inside the bus? Some nicely composed shots.

  14. Gakuranman says:

    Cheers :) Camera is teh Olympus E-P1, a little big for anything other than a coat pocket, but a lovely little camera with DSLR quality that helps you to think creatively. If you're looking for smaller that than will the same sort of features, the Panasonic GF-1 is a good option, but the out of camera Jpeg shots and colours aren't quite as nice as on the Olympus in my opinion ;)

    As for living in it or driving it away, there was no way! The whole bus was filled with wood and other rubbish and those wheels were held fast by vines. I expect that's where it'll remain for some time…

  15. Gakuranman says:

    Yea, it was in a surprising location. I hadn't seen any schools nearby and it was kinda hidden behind a small village at the mouth of a forest. No idea why it was left there, but as it virtually untouched by vandals and feeling the effects of nature it made for a great subject!

  16. Gakuranman says:

    Cheers Kirk :) Would appreciate any tips you have on the writing too. Too detailed? Too poetic – etc.

  17. koichi says:

    That is teh sexy! You'll have to tell me more about the camera you use, I'm looking for a nice one, though preferably 3/4 size.

    I'll admit, though, I'm kind of disappointed you didn't try to drive it away, or live in it.

  18. tornadoes28 says:

    That's a good little haikyo. One that makes you wonder about when the bus was still being used and why it is now left in that field to decay.

  19. Locohama says:

    Hey Michael…Nice pics!!! Love that oozing rust pic (-:

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