Usually I stay away from exploring regular Japanese houses. It happened way too often that I thought “Oh, this house / apartment building looks abandoned!” and upon closer look it actually was not. Japan has an unbelievable amount of rundown yet inhabited buildings, especially in the countryside and the outskirts of bigger cities – and I don’t want to get in trouble!
When *Rory* and I drove through the countryside on one of our exploration trips, my fellow explorer tried to point my attention to a slightly dilapidated concrete building to the left – and even without looking at it I dismissed the idea, because “there are cars parked”. Well, last time I saw the building half a year prior there were cars parked, but this time I jumped the gun. Rory was indeed right: the cars were gone, leaving behind a building that looked abandoned… and so we stopped.
Still not 100% convinced that the building was really abandoned I left the lead to Rory and had a look at the surroundings – a couple of storage shacks inhabited by half a dozen cats, some garden plots with Napa cabbage (the key ingredient of kimchi…), a few open windows; no real proof that this simple, ugly building was really abandoned. Access of course was easy – two staircases in the back lead to four floors with two apartments each. (The video shows one staircase, the photos I selected are from apartments on both staircases.)
While all apartments basically had the same layout, their interior was like a box of chocolates – we never knew what we were gonna get! Some apartments looked like you could move it in right away if you had low standards, others were completely moldy and a serious health hazard, while the third kind was covered by spider webs. Some were packed with brand-new boxed items, the strangest being the ones labelled “Glycerin Enema Mune 60”, others were filled with all kinds of trashed. Some showed signs of families with children, others most likely were bachelor pads. In one apartment was a calendar – showing last month’s date; which would explain why there were cars parks at the building half a year prior to our visit.
Since the apartment building was just outside of a small town, Rory and I went for a walk after we were done exploring. It was getting dark anyway, so we thought it would be nice to enjoy a countryside sunset. Countryside people in Japan tend to be much friendlier than city folks according to my experience, so it didn’t surprise me at all when a local woman started a conversation with Rory when he took a picture of a cat with an improvised Elizabethan collar – and she confirmed that the apartment building was abandoned just two months prior to our visit after it fell into disrepair.
When approaching and exploring the apartment building I didn’t think it was a good idea being there, but in retrospect it was quite an interesting experience. I still wouldn’t drive hours to get there, but it wasn’t a bad location as far as original finds go!
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