The Landslide Mining Apartments have been a challenge from the beginning till the end. They were difficult to locate, they were difficult to access, they were difficult to document and they were difficult to write about!
I remember how fascinated I was when I first saw those two massive concrete yet delapidated buildings on a Japanese blog years ago… and how I assumed that they would become the next Japanese urbex sensation. Most of the modern ruins in Japan have been abandoned in the past 20 years or so, but the Landslide Mining Apartments clearly had a longer history. Much like the incredible *Matsuo Mine Apartment Buildings* the LMAs were built after World War 2 and abandoned in the late 1960s, but unlike their famous counterparts, the Landslide Mining Apartments fell into obscurity during abandonment. And that’s where they still are, which is good for them… and good for the safety of countless potential visitors that would otherwise risk their necks going there. Japanese blogs usually name their articles after the original mine’s name, despite there’s close to nothing of it left – and most likely because they visited before the buildings’ current signature feature rolled through: a huge landslide that damaged several apartments; some more, some less, some not at all.
So, is it smart to visit abandoned concrete apartment buildings from the 40s or 50s that were built on a steep slope in the middle of nowhere and abandoned in the 60s, which rather recently have been hit by a landslide? Hell no! But it’s terribly interesting, at least to me… :)
Like I said, the Landslide Mining Apartments were rather difficult to locate. Most of the time I had to wait for months to receive another part of the puzzle, for example a prefecture name or a photo of the surroundings, but after a while I was able to piece everything together. Or so I thought. Since the LMAs are located in a very countryside area rather well-known for its tea, the GoogleMaps satellite view turned out to be a massive greenish / slightly brownish blur, countless narrow streets leading up and down the mountains – one wrong turn and you are lost forever. Luckily I spent another 30 minutes to figure out details before heading over there, because it turned out that my first pin-down was a couple of hundred meters off; too much in a mountainous area for buildings that can’t be seen from regular streets.
When I first saw the Landslide Mining Apartments with my own eyes I was heading towards one of those tea fields, probably not an abandoned one – and my heart sank a bit when I realized that there was no way I could climb the slope as it was completely overgrown. And by that I mean COMPLETELY overgrown. In March. Crazy! But if there was a way to get to the lower end of the buildings… maybe there was one to get to the upper end… somehow. After trying several roads and paths, ending up too high / too low / too far north / too far south, the buildings finally came into reach. Well, the northern building (in the background of the first photo, since my safe return the wallpaper of my computer) came into reach, the southern one appeared to be protected by nature from all sides. And even Building 1 (yes, they were numbered…) was difficult to access as you know from the introduction. There were no steps leading down, but I spotted a partly overgrown path leading from where I assumed the entrance was to… pretty much nowhere. A fainting rut in the slope indicated where previous explorers made their way down there, so I followed their example, reaching another area with thick vegetation. Only a few meters away from the upper staircase (each building had two, with apartments on each of the four floors IIRC) I just pushed for it and finally made it through – realizing that I forgot my tripod in the car…
… which was one of the reasons why I had some difficulties documenting the Landslide Mining Apartments. A lot of the rooms were actually not exactly well-lit in the afternoon, since the windows faced north and south, while the sun was setting in the west, disappearing way too fast behind a mountain. Even from below at the tea plantation it was pretty obvious that the LMAs would be a rather dangerous exploration, given their age and the condition the buildings were in, but I didn’t even have to go to a second apartment to see how risky maneuvering within the building would be as it was filled up to the ceiling with earth and debris – not too long ago a landslide must have hit Building 1, damaging some of the apartments. And most of the other ones weren’t exactly in great condition either. Mold and moss made the tatami and wood floors a lot more instable as they appear to be in perfect condition… and even the concrete didn’t look like I wanted to trust it with my life. And so the exploration turned out to be breathtaking in many ways, but also because there were quite a few items of daily life left behind. Games, clothing items, a toilet brush, alcohol bottles, newspapers, and the obligatory porn stash; this time a loose-leaf collection spread over a living room floor and a kitchen.
So why did I have a difficult time writing about the Landslide Mining Apartments? Well, mainly because I tremendously enjoyed the location. With all the difficulties on the way I felt that I really earned this exploration, which turned out to be an amazing place full of little surprises. The LMAs were far from being beautiful in a way most people would agree on, but their rough charm totally appealed to me. Despite being typically Japanese inside, wooden floors and tatami mats, the buildings oozed a goozebumpy Nineteen-Eighty-Four-esque atmosphere. It’s the kind of place I could stay at for hours without taking a photo, just enjoying its vibe and letting my thoughts getting carried away. And that is great at the time, but it also adds incredibly to the pressure whenever I write about one of those outstanding places… like in this case. Even now, more than 1000 words into the article, I am not sure if I was able to do the Landslide Mining Apartments justice… but I really hope I did!
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