Bear with me or no bear with me? Neither my buddy Rory nor I were able to answer that wildlife question when exploring the Tokiyama Power Station #1…
I *recently listed* the nastiest / most dangerous animals I ran into during my explorations – of course I forgot the leeches of that horrible hotel in Chubu, but I remembered to mention Master Bruin. Bears can be found on three out of Japan’s four major islands (Honshu, Hokkaido, and Shikoku) and within the last three weeks four people died from bear attacks in Akita prefecture, so they are a viable threat. Even in the densely populated Kansai region you can find signs warning of bears on a regular basis when hiking – and since most abandoned places are… well… at least off the beaten tracks, there is a certain risk to run into Asiatic black bears (Ursus thibetanus), especially when exploring places in the mountains; like the Tokiyama Power Station #1.
When Rory and I headed for the mountains in the Shiga / Mie / Gifu area, we expected a sunny or at least overcast day – the Japanese weather forecast being even more unreliable than in the rest of the world, we were welcomed by rain. Steady rain. In addition to that, the first couple of potential locations to explore turned out to be duds, so we headed for a very old and rather famous one… the Tokiyama Power Station #2. Sadly a massive landslide prohibited us from reaching our goal (when it rains, it pours!), so we turned towards the other Tokiyama Power Station. Built in 1940 to support the legendary and now demolished *White Stone Mine*, there is no word when this installation was shut down – probably together with the mine in 1969. After about 40 years of abandonment and decay, the building was covered with blue tarps around 2010 and apparently security is having a look every once in a while. (There were similar reports about the White Stone Mine, which was demolished from June 2012 on…) In late 2013 the blue tarps were definitely still there, but I guess security stayed at home due to the heavy rain – while the tarps kept the building (reachable via a sketchy looking bridge and a path washed away by a little landslide) dry, they also made the inside even darker – overall an uncomfortable place to be and to take pictures of. Dark, damp… and I always had the feeling that something was observing us. Noises outside, both breaking twigs and some kind of growling; not loud and maybe just in our heads, but… perception is reality. A little bit further up the stream we found an abandoned house in really bad condition – I’m not sure if it was an administrative building or if somebody was living there. Maybe both, you never know. In any case, we didn’t waste much time and got out of there and back across the dodgy bridge rather quickly.
While no bear was spotted during this exploration, I hope you will bear with me for a handful of less spectacular locations – the last couple of weeks have been crazy busy and the upcoming ones most likely won’t allow much time for relaxation either, so I might pick some less photogenic places to write about, resulting in shorter articles and fewer photos. BUT… beauty lies in the eye of the beholder and maybe you’ll enjoy them even more than the locations I’ve recently written about!
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