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Haikyo / Ruins If You Build It, They Will Leave
(Entered Nov. 24, 2009)
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Mist is the default weather setting for any true haikyo experience, adding an eeriness that can't be experienced on a clear day. The only step up would be to explore at night, except that you wouldn't be coming back with decent photos. You must explore alone as well. In the mist, sound is muffled, visibility is reduced, and the world contracts to your immediate surroundings. In truth it's not for the faint of heart.

matsuo abandoned apartments haiyko

Day two of our Iwate haikyo adventure found MJG and I about an hour away from Morioka, heading for the abandoned Matsuo apartment complex. A lot of the time, the actual search for a haikyo, driving around in circles, exploring small overgrown side roads; is almost as much fun as exploring the ruins themselves. Only occasionally is a haikyo exactly where you think it might be. However the ones that are the hardest to find are always the most rewarding, as they are the ones that have been relatively untouched by vandals, and better preserved.
However this was the first time that, although we knew exactly where the the haikyo was, it remained invisible until we were practically on top of it.

matsuo abandoned apartments long hall

We knew it was there though, so pulling over to the side of the road, we ventured some meters up a hill until we could see the bulidings' faint silhouettes outlined against the swirling grey fog.

matsuo abandoned apartments no sidewall

Paths completely overgrown with weeds and bushes, empty black windows and featurless grey concrete are what remain now. The insides of the buildings, although ruined, give clues to what life was like back when this was a sulpher mining town. Walls, floors, and beams were all utilitarian, colourless and drab, making this place look more like a prison than an apartment....
However it seems that when the town was finally abandoned, they put the whole place to the torch, and only the concrete survived. Perhaps it was once a bit more cheerful.

matsuo abandoned apartment side view

Like Taro mine where we visited on the first day, the stairs leading up to higher floors were in a state of collapse. Did that stop us from going up? No, but it should have. The staircase that I used to reach the top of one building had a whole stair missing on the third floor. Going up the stairs you somehow don't give it much thought, maybe because you're looking up, but coming back down was different somehow. Looking down at my feet into the gaping hole, and realizing that the thickness of the concrete was only about 5 cm, and that to pass over was not unlike stepping into thin air, I was suddenly terrified....

matsuo abandoned apartments roof view

While up on the roof, I was positive I heard somebody shout out in the distance. At that time, I had just passed MJG on the stairs so I knew it wasn't him. Had I been spotted? Who could possibly see me? MJG had also heard voices while alone as well. Just tricks of sound in the fog, or something else? I don't believe in ghosts, but if I had been here alone at night, in the mist, that belief would've been sorely tested.

matsuo abandoned apartments close up

With 12-13 buildings to look through, spread out over a large area, MJG and I agreed to meet back at the car in 1 hour. As the appointed time got closer I knew that it wasn't going to be enough. By chance though we ran into each other near the 1 hour mark.
'You done?'
'No, you?'
'No, 30 more minutes?'

matsu abandoned apartments central hall

Later, on route to the next location, we stopped off at a view point on the road and, wouldn't you know it, the mist had cleared up over the buildings, albeit hanging shroud-like only a few hundred meters away. When we came back later to get a few more closer, unmisted shots, the mist had once again decended, leaving Matsuo's secrets intact.

matsuo abandoned apartments from far




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