The Abandoned

I may have mentioned earlier how I have a thing for abandoned houses. I've often tried to think what the exact reason is but it's quite hard to explain. On the surface level, I like the textures and the light, I like the secrecy, the adventure. I like to think about the story behind the house. On another level - deeper or not - I like to think of empty houses as reflections of what goes on inside a persons head or maybe remnants of our society. Maybe I see them as symbols of what people build and how fragile they can be compared to the eternal universe.

The point is, I love them and I love looking for them. In English, we call it urban exploration, sometimes rural exploration. So if you see hashtags like urbex, ue, rurex etc, that's what it's about. In an earlier post I think I explained about the Japanese word haikyo and how that's how they call it here. It can be kind of a hobby, but it's also an aesthetic view people have, I guess.

I knew I probably wasn't going to find many abandoned places here, I'm sure there are a many abandoned houses around Japan but going in them is quite different than in Finland. Back home, a lot of houses just get abandoned when the old people move to the cities to be taken care of or just, you know, die. Nobody wants the old houses in the woods and then they're just left there. Some kids maybe go in, leave the doors open and the explorers come. Nobody really cares, us explorer just look around and take pictures, we don't want to break or steal anything. But in Japan I think people are a lot more strict about their houses and properties. Plus they actually seem to take abandoned or unlivable houses down pretty quickly.

I've been going around looking for abandoned places anyway. There actually is an abandoned house quite near us, but it's locked and the people who own it don't really want to let anybody in, so I've dismissed that one completely. I also found an abandoned swimming pool the other day, which was really cool and actually absolutely perfect for fashion shoots, community events, pretty much anything. I hope the people here will find a use for it. It would be so great for some art event. With music, maybe performances, small art exhibitions! So perfect!

In Fukuoka there also seemed to be an abandoned big mill, though sometimes it can be really difficult to tell the difference what's abandoned and what's been taken over by hipster vintage shops and graphic designers. During one of my bike rides around the town, I found this house I was a hundred percent sure was abandoned and even the door was open. I was just stalking around it, trying to make sure when I suddenly spotted a man in his underwear sitting inside, watching TV. That could have ended badly.

I also found an abandoned restaurant the other day. After our exhibition, we went to another small, local restaurant. It's the kind you see in movies, middle-aged men sitting on the tatami, smoking and drinking, speaking loudly, the staff cooking dinner in the steaming heat of the kitchen, TV blaring incomprehensible cartoons in the background. It was really lively and there was a huge group of us artists too, eating and drinking everything in sight. I got to thinking about that other restaurant, how similar the two restaurants were but how dead it was, now that it was empty. How quickly things can change.

In the backroom of the abandoned restaurant, there was also a bedroom with an unmade bed. The covers were pink and crumpled and for second, when I stepped in, it looked like there was a body lying in that bed. I got so scared, I think I actually screamed out loud. It was pretty jarring. I left pretty quickly after that. Oh and of course there was also that abandoned hotel we went to at the beach. That was a really marvelous find!

I wish I had more time to go around Japan, I'm sure there are so many interesting abandoned and empty places here. I know there are a few abandoned military islands with apartment buildings and God knows what wonders. But for now I'm okay with these discoveries I've made. I don't want to upset any of the people who have been hosting me here so kindly, so I'm not as brazen as I could be with my searches. There are also a lot of shrines that look abandoned that are quite pretty; I don't recommend going inside though, that would probably be beyond offensive. There's one near where we live, it's on top of a hill with a beautiful little park in front of it. It has a lovely view of the village, a lot of goth-romantic, gnarly trees and a few little benches. It's beautiful and peaceful but I definitely stay away from the shrine itself.


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