Touring Japan 2010: Day 5 – Rusty Teshima

By Michael Gakuran | | Adventure | 10 Comments |

I was planning on going rafting in the wilderness of Oboke today, but I awoke in the manga cafe to the sound of heavy rain outside. I ‘borrowed’ one of the clear, plastic umbrellas left behind by other people at the exit and walked quickly to the station. The staff informed me the local trains around the valley weren’t running and the rafting company confimed the cancellation.

So what to do? I asked myself. Milling around the station, I weighed up my options. I could always go to Dougo Onsen I suppose… But that will be several hours by train. Just for a bath. Hmm… Walking past some tourist brochures, I remembered the other islands left in the Seto Inland Art Tour. Teshima had sounded pretty cool when Aki told me about it back at the lodge on Naoshima. A heartbeat chamber and storm room? And there are local buses running all the time. Sold. Rain or not, Teshima it is.

Sod’s Law continued to mock me however, as the moment I arrived on Teshima, the weather brightened up and flooding sunshine splattered every corner of the island. Oh well, rafting tomorrow if I’m lucky…

Catching my first bus (they are all free on Teshima), I arrived close to the Heartbeat Chamber. Teshima was full of rusty and decaying objects, so for a haikyo maniac like myself, just wandering around the island itself was like viewing art.

The Heartbeat Chamber was lived up to the hype. I was plunged into a pitch black room, alone, and walked carefully forwards with various jerky sounds of heartbeats filling the air and a single bulb flashing in the middle of the room along with the noise. The black portraits hung up around me were quite spooky when illuminated by the dim light. As I got closer to the huge speaker at the other end of the room, the heartbeat got faster and louder and the light flashed with more and more intensity. The picture above gives a pretty good idea of how little light there really was in the room.

Back outside I stumbled upon a rusty van half hidden in the undergrowth. Some gorgeous reds and oranges in the paintwork there.

At the next location, too, a fascinating old Japanese sign aged and weathered by the sea wind. It’s quite odd how a hobby like urban exploration grabs hold of you. My eyes naturally seem to pick up on anything and everything around me that is in a state of decay. I see many, many more haikyo buildings and signs now than I ever did before I became interested in the hobby.

In this particular area of the neightbourhood there was an abundance of haikyo houses. Or at least houses that seemed abandoned. It’s very difficult to tell in Japan just judging by the state of the building. I’m often surprised at what sort of structures people live in here! I came across a couple that I explored by myself, but they didn’t yield much in the way of interesting shots and the summer heat killed my appetite for serious exploration, especially when it involved scrambling through the weeds and overgrown vegetation around most of the houses. The shot above though was from one haikyo house that had been made into an art exhibition. There were many old objects inside really bringing out the character of the place. Apparently the house belonged to a fisherman.

Many critters were out and about too. I caught a turtle sneakily hiding in the grass. He wasn’t too pleased at my holding him though.

Also, some bizarre insects – dragonflies perhaps? – who landed on the road in front of me upside down and lay there motionless. I’ve never seen this before, but can only guess that it is some sort of mating ritual..?

Lots of beautiful green rice plantations under the vivid blue skies. This really is a rural island.

Another art exhibition made out of the windows and sliding doors from many different houses all slotted together to form a tunnel. Looks like haikyo really can be a proper form of art!

This was one of the more interesting art pieces, but I was disappointed not to be able to see it at night. Apparently it is connected to equipment that make it flash different colours when things happen in the universe. You know, like when stars explode and whatnot.

And last but not least, the Storm Room. Another old Japanese house converted into an intriguing art exhibition. Sitting in the slightly dank room, a low rumble of thunder echoed outwards from the walls. Suddenly rain started falling against the sliding doors and the lights flickering on and off. The fans in the rooms being electric were also affected by the apparent oncoming storm, springing to life randomly. I love the sound of rain, so I sat in the room listening to the storm coming and going for quite some time. This could definitely qualify as one of those ‘Power Spots’ that are popular in Japan right now. Basically places people can go to and feel relaxed and re-energised.

Well then, let’s hope the rain holds off tomorrow so I can get a day’s White Water Rafting in. It’s supposed to be the best one in Japan! *Grin*.

10 comments on “Touring Japan 2010: Day 5 – Rusty Teshima
  1. Gakuranman says:

    That would be awesome! I love listening to the sound of rain and storms on CD as experiencing the real thing is quite rare. Having a self-contained room would be great though!

  2. Nick says:

    The storm room looks and sounds like something I'd want to convert my own room into. I wonder if people would pay for something like that here in the US…

  3. Gakuranman says:

    Thanks Dan. It's been a bit of a leanring experience for me too. Not used to blogging so freqeuntly and having to re-size pictures on the fly in MS-Paint. Glad it was interesting to read! I posted about the rafting expereince already, but I'm sure you've seen it :). Apparently that area in Shikoku is the best in Japan. Well worth a visit if you have the time!

  4. Gakuranman says:

    Yeah, those dragonflies! Just plopped right down on the hot concrete road in front me. I had about 15 seconds to get some pictures before a car came and scared them off!

  5. Interesting pictures. I liked the rusty van, the paintwork looked like an abstract. Then, I had a little laugh when I saw the dragonflies. Moreover, I haven't seen that kind of dragonfly before. The color was different.

  6. Dan Savage says:

    Your ability to blog as you go with great photos and text is pretty amazing. I could not do it. I need hours to slowly sift and sort before I post anything. :-) Great job!

    I'm looking forward to reading about your rafting experience if the weather clears up for you. Some guys I have kayaked with in Gifu-ken have referenced Shikoku's Yoshinogawa as being a great big water experience in Japan, though apparently it typically maxes out at Class 4.

    I am not familiar with the area and am eager to learn more, so your hint at a possible visit to some rapids while you are on Shikoku was quite exciting to me. Some of what I have read suggests that the biggest rapids of Yoshinogawa are downstream of Oboke and Koboke, but I imagine the views may be more impressive in those canyons. Anyway, I eagerly await your report. There is not a lot being written in English about kayaking/rafting on Shikoku. Hope you are able to get in the water.

    -Dan Savage

  7. Gakuranman says:

    Cheers Craig. Yep, Kagawa was good fun, but I'm back in Kansai now! Teshima and Naoshima are worth a try if you have time :).

  8. Gakuranman says:

    Awesome, horny dragonflies! Can't beat that :p. Glad I'm giving you some ideas for your trip next year. So many great locations in Japan!

  9. Yes, you came across mating dragonflies, lucky you :)

    Fantastic photo essay as always, love following your travels, lots of inspiration for our trip to Japan next year (and just inspiring generally)

  10. Lol, it looks like Kagawa is just sucking you in. Hurry and make your escape or you'll end up like me! ;-p

    Glad you checked out Teshima though, looks possibly worth a try

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