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Archive for the ‘Hospital’ Category

Hidden behind tall walls and covered by a thick layer of snow, this abandoned wooden countryside clinic revealed its treasures only slowly…

You can barely throw a stone in the Japanese countryside without hitting an abandoned house. They are everywhere – and most of them are boring and in horrible condition.  At first sight the Showa Era Countryside Clinic was not much different (the Showa era area the years between 1926 and1989). It looked like a decently sized two building property in… well… average at best condition. A thick layer of snow implied that we were the first visitors in weeks, maybe even years. At first sight or on GoogleMaps there was absolutely nothing special about those premises. Arriving at the clinic, we weren’t even sure if there was anything left. According to a friend’s research one of the buildings had been used as a doctor’s office in the past – but that doesn’t mean anything, especially nowadays, when buildings are refurbished or demolished in no time. My two friends I was exploring with that day checked out the structure in front of us, I went to the right, found a door and opened it; looked like a normal room, I guess I picked the mansion part. Shortly thereafter one of my friends passed by me and actually went inside – jackpot! It turned out that my building actually was the clinic and that the door I opened was just to a regular room in the clinic building. So I went inside, too, and took some photos as well as a video, converted to black and white monochrome for this article. Before I switched buildings with the third friend I went through a small opening in a broken door and up a wooden ladder to the attic of the clinic after I was assured it was worth the hassle – as it turned out the floor there was little more than wooden boards, slightly brittle after decades of neglect. After taking photos of the abandoned experiment, which looked like straight out of a 1930s Frankenstein movie, at one end of the attic I made my way back to the ladder and felt how the floor caved in with a cracking noise, so I quickly took off the pressure of my foot before I crashed through. I consider it a small miracle that I was able to get down again before I damaged the building (any further) or hurt myself – wooden attics really aren’t my kind of environment… Speaking of damages: The living space in the main building wasn’t exactly confidence-inspiring, so I stayed at the entrance / kitchen area and took a few photos there. It wasn’t until I got home and had a closer look at the photos that I realized how much the walls were really bending! Japan – a polite country through and through… (The building is actually a death trap and can collapse at any time; it probably will within the next couple of years, depending on the amount of snow that will pile up on top of the roof.)

Exploring the Showa Era Countryside Clinic was an amazing experience. Not only because it was yet another time capsule in overall good condition, but because one of the friends I was with found it due to own research and they trusted us enough to take us with them to check it out – so I can almost guarantee you that some of the photos you see here were the first ones ever taken at that place. And there were things I had never seen before, like the strange apparatus in the attic or the large wood and marble contraption that looked like it was used for treatments involving electricity, which was developed about 200 years ago and was quite popular at the beginning of the 20th century. Those are the kinds of objects you’ll probably won’t even find in museums. Seeing them just standing around there is… well worth all the effort to explore at this level.
The pictures of the first abandoned old clinic I explored, the now vandalized *Tokushima Countryside Clinic*, I published originally in converted monochrome photos and a while later in color. Since this clinic reminded me very much of that exploration almost eight years ago (just with much better friends…), I will publish this set both ways in one gallery – first black and white monochrome, then color (otherwise unedited though, as always). Feel free to let me know which you like better!

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A lot of abandoned places leave an impression because of what they have been, not what they are now. The Hiroshima Hospital is one of those places…

Japanese urban explorers are quick labeling as haikyo, ruins, their common term for abandoned places – but very often they are just closed, or even worse: they just look abandoned and are actually still in use; especially “abandoned” schools. So whenever I see an “abandoned” place popping up on a Japanese site and it doesn’t feature inside photos, I become worried / skeptical. Was the location really abandoned or did the explorer not bother to have a closer look? Did they have a closer, but couldn’t get inside? Did they try to, but cause an alarm? Were they maybe even caught? (It happens to the best of us…) Did they get inside, but decided against publishing photos, because the interior was too spectacular or not interesting enough? There are a million different possibilities, and they all run through my head whenever I see outdoor shots only of a potentially abandoned place.
The Hiroshima Hospital was one of those places – all I knew about it was its location in a residential suburb of Hiroshima City, all I’ve seen about of it were a couple of outdoor shots, showing massive barricades. It’s quite a drive from Osaka to Hiroshima (between four and five hours, depending on the route and the traffic circumstances), so Dan, Kyoko & I made the hospital the first location of the second day, exploring along the way the day before.
At first all the things I worried about came true: The main entrance of the hospital was barricaded, people were walking their dogs, and even from the outside the places looked kinda vandalized. But coming a long way kinda makes you persistent, so we kept looking for a way in and found a weak spot after a while. Sadly our second impression of the Hiroshima Hospital wasn’t much better than the first one. Except for a couple if items here and there the clinic had been cleaned out when it was closed – as it should be. I still can’t believe the kind of equipment, tools and drugs I found in various other abandoned hospitals over the years, so it’s hard to complain that somebody did the right thing for a change. Unfortunately that person didn’t think things fully through. As confirmed by StreetView, the Hiroshima Hospital wasn’t boarded up at first, which explains the serious amount of vandalism – broken windows, graffiti, airsoft pellets… the whole shebang.

Long story short: I’ve been to three, four, five abandoned hospitals in Hiroshima prefecture, but the Hiroshima Hospital is actually my least favorite one. It didn’t taint a great exploration weekend at all, but to be honest: I was kinda hoping for another *Wakayama Hospital*, and by that standard it was definitely a disappointment.

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Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but puddles of sweat – urbex in July and August comes with its own set of challenges in Japan…

I think I’ve mentioned before that I usually take a break from exploring in Japan during the summer months, especially in July in August. In June the humidity in Kansai and the surrounding areas skyrockets due to the rainy season, in July the heat kicks in, and in August temperatures tend to be between 34°C (day time) and 30°C (at night) in the Kobe-Osaka-Kyoto megalopolis. You probably don’t mind if you are used to that kind of weather, but I’m from west-central Germany, where temperatures are 5°C lower in average – and humid days are rather rare… and never for up to four months in a row. In addition to that bugs are much smaller and other animals are less poisonous than in Central Japan, because… well, you know… nature likes Central Europe. But exploring is like celebrating – you have to when you have the opportunity… even if the circumstances are borderline crazy!
2017, late July, Friday evening – after a long week of work two friends of mine picked me up at home at half past 10. The goal? A 24/7 super sento (large public bath with places to sleep – on the floor in special rooms, on benches, or special chairs, …) in a suburb or Hiroshima, a “nice and easy” 4+ hour drive away from Osaka. We arrived at around 2 a.m., took a bath, and crashed on some benches at around 3 a.m. for two and a half cool hours of sleep. The sun rises early in Japan in July, we had places to go to, and time was of the essence! After a kombini breakfast, the *Horseshoe Hospital*, and a quick snack for lunch in the car we arrived at the Hiroshima Countryside Clinic pretty much exactly at high noon – and walking the 100 meters from a nearby parking lot to the hospital mansion felt like being an ant under a magnifying glass. While the partly overgrown (and partly collapsed!) mansion, roped-off by city officials to prohibit people from entering, offered protection from the sun, it did little to nothing regarding heat, humidity and gnats.
While it is hard to say how much of the damage to the Hiroshima Countryside Clinic was natural decay and how much was vandalism (some rooms were nearly untouched, others looked like some people vented their frustrations), it’s easy to say that this was a fascinating exploration. I just love those old countryside clinics, mansions with doctors’ offices. There was so much to see, so many unusual items to take pictures of – like the creepy dolls in the living room, the German medical books, or the labels for medicine bottles.

When we left after just 1.5 hours it was a bittersweet departure. On the one hand I would have loved to stay at least another 1.5 hours to finish taking pictures, on the other hand I was happy to get back to an air-conditioned area. At that point I was literally dripping of sweat, my T-shirt wasn’t able to hold an additional drop. To accelerate the drying process in the car I actually took it off and wrung it out – much to the entertainment of my fellow explorers. Apparently one of my many useless ‘skills’ in life is ‘sweating’… Sadly I’ll never get a chance to return to the Hiroshima Countryside Clinic, one of the little known abandoned hospitals in Japan – last week I found out that it has been demolished shortly after my visit; again bittersweet… On the one hand I would have loved to have another look, on the other hand I am forever grateful to my friends who took me there… and for my decision to join them, because when you have the opportunity to explore, you better take it – there might not be a next time!

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About two weeks ago I became uncle of twin boys – probably a good opportunity to finally write about the abandoned Maternity Hospital.

The Japanese countryside is littered with abandoned small clinics and hospitals. There must be hundreds of them all over the country, yet most of them are really hard to find, because unlike large modern hospitals the majority of the traditional small clinics look like regular big houses – countryside clinic or just a mansion? Often impossible to tell when passing by, even harder when trying to find locations like that via GoogleMaps. In my early urbex days eight years ago, people knew about maybe half a dozen of those clinics all over Japan – now the number is closer to half a dozen per prefecture, and yet some of them are very, very hard to find. In this case I was lucky and very grateful that some friends took me there…
The Maternity Hospital is a small clinic in a somewhat surprisingly touristy town in the middle of a quiet residential area, surrounded by houses with regular residents. Driving or even walking by you would never guess that it is abandoned and actually in rather bad condition already – the road facing side looks like a regular old building, but the back… the back suffered some serious damage. About a quarter of the house has already collapsed, and it’s pretty likely that the rest will follow rather sooner than later. Luckily most of the damage so far was done to the private section of the building, though the clinic part wasn’t in good condition either. The wooden floor of the lobby was either gone or in really bad shape, the former examination room was so cluttered I could barely position my tripod… or walk around the room without stepping on anything. Fortunately the signature item of the Maternity Hospital was still there – a half-size model of a pregnant Japanese woman with traditional hairdo. Between the examination room and the surgery room was a room that looked like a regular bedroom, but it once was probably used for patients to recover from the deeds that were done in the bright white room right next to it. The operating room was probably the brightest room I’ve ever been in, even on that overcast day of my visit. White tiles, white paint flaking off the walls and the ceiling, and even the surgical lighthead was mostly white – the weight of the latter already showing negative effects on the ceiling, most likely one day a contributing factor to bringing this part of the house down. Give it another two or three years and the Maternity Hospital probably will be gone. Like the next room, probably the former living room, where the ceiling and the roof were already gone.

Overall the Maternity Hospital was an interesting exploration. At first sight the whole thing looked like collapsed chaos, but once I figured out how to navigate around, I was able to find and capture at least some of the hidden beauty of this place. I wish I would have known about this hospital at the beginning of my urbex career, but at least I was able to have a look before further damage was done. A good location, still rather rare – but no *Tokushima Countryside Clinic*, my first and still favorite abandoned wooden hospital…

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One of my favorite kind of places to explore in Japan are abandoned hospitals, especially the old ones made of wood or located in lavish mansions – most of them time capsules that take you 70, 80, 90, 100 years back in time. Like the Horseshoe Hospital…

The Horseshoe Hospital is a name I came up with for a virtually unknown abandoned hospital in the Japanese countryside, mainly because… well… because it was shaped like a horseshoe. Two dear friends of mine took me there (for which I am incredibly grateful for!) and went ahead inside, so by the time I entered the ground floor through a missing door I was all by myself – and surrounded by gardening equipment. I thought this was supposed to be an abandoned hospital? The first couple of rooms I checked were filled with all kinds of useless items. Since the building was mostly overgrown, the light inside the hospital was quite unusual and rather interesting, but overall it was basically a hallway shaped like a U with rooms only to one side. Halfway through, the corridor was blocked by a few wooden desks, so I took the opportunity to take some photos before passing the obstacle and using the rather gloomy staircase to get to the upper floor.
The upper floor looked more like a hospital – less trash, more rooms with a bed and a night table. Sadly not much more medical equipment. But a nice view outside, since a part of the hospital has been demolished a while ago; months at least, probably years – no demolition equipment in sight anymore.

It has been quite a while since I last explored an abandoned wooden hospital in Japan, more than half a year (*and even longer since I last wrote about one*), so this was quite an exciting exploration, despite the fact that only a few things reminded me that this has been a hospital once – not the gardening equipment, not the advertising posters for diamond rings, and not the room with the model ship and the rather old pin-up poster. Sadly I don’t know much about the Horseshoe Hospital and the only thing I found that could help dating it, was a calendar from 1988… Nevertheless it was great fun and one of the few July explorations I don’t regret, despite a few mosquitos and the unbearably humid heat. Even at 7 a.m. it felt like being in a sauna – and by the time I finally left the Horseshoe Hospital (one and a half hours later) I was able to wring out my T-shirt…

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After having spent five hours at two clinics yesterday due to my first somewhat serious urbex related injury after more than seven years of exploring, I’m kind of in the mood to write about one more abandoned hospital – because deserted ones are definitely much less frightening than active ones!

The Moldy Mountain Medical Center once was a small hospital in the outskirts of an onsen town somewhere in the mountains of Japan. Little to nothing is known about it, which is usually an unfortunate situation, but since I have not much time to write this article as every walking related activity costs twice as much time due to my twisted knee, I am actually quite relieved for a change that my research resulted in dead ends quickly. Exploring the Moldy Mountain Medical Center almost turned out to be a dead end, too. I had never seen any inside photos or videos before I gave it shot myself… and upon arrival all the side doors and windows were locked. I nearly gave up on it when I finally tried the obvious way in – the main door; which owas unlocked and opened easily, much to my surprise.
Also much to my surprise was the stench I smelled immediately – mold. I couldn’t see it (yet), but the smell was heavy in the air. The entrance area with the reception, a couple of consultation rooms and offices was still in pretty decent condition, the back of the one floor building though was indeed moldy as heck – so I took as many photos as possible in the front and as few as reasonable in the back; the video tour includes both areas, though I probably walked a bit faster in the mold hell…
As far as *abandoned hospitals* go, the Moldy Mountain Medical Center was a rather small and unspectacular location – nevertheless it was an exciting exploration, as it was all new to me. Like I mentioned before, I never had or have seen inside photos of that clinic anywhere else, neither from its active time, nor from the time of abandonment. So here you are, another abandoned place in Japan for the first time on the internet… only on *Abandoned Kansai*!
Funny to think that I almost didn’t write this article as I seriously considered taking a few weeks off from blogging until a few hours ago… But I haven’t missed a Tuesday in years and I don’t intend to start slacking now! 🙂

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The first abandoned hospital I ever explored was a small town clinic in Kyushu I called the *Tokushima Countryside Clinic* – it was an amazing experience and the Small Town Clinic did its best to keep up with that…

Living in Osaka I barely ever make it to northern Kanto and Tohoku, the area between Tokyo and Hokkaido, because train tickets are so expensive in Japan that it’s cheaper and faster for me to fly to Hokkaido, Kyushu or even Okinawa. (Yes, I am aware that there are overnight buses, but I’m too old for those things!) Which is a shame, because some of the best abandoned places in all of Japan are in that region. About a year ago a three day weekend offered the opportunity to head north, luckily I was able to convince my buddy *Hamish* to hit the road with me as I was able to come up with quite an impressive list of possible locations, which included about half a dozen abandoned hospitals / clinics as well as the legendary *Russian Village in Niigata*. Of course not everything went according to plan, but one of the locations we were able to explore was this small town clinic about 2.5 hours outside of Tokyo…
Sadly there is little to nothing known about the Small Town Clinic, except that it was built in the 1920s, the Taisho era – and that it is yet another good example of a mostly intact Japanese countryside clinic that once combined a fully furnished doctor’s office with a sizeable house. Not as mansion-esque as the Tokushima Countryside Clinic, but pretty big, even in comparison with other countryside houses (which are much bigger than the hamster cage sized apartments in the large apartment blocks most Japanese people live at in big cities like Tokyo, Osaka, or Yokohama). It took us a couple of minutes to find a way in, but we managed to do so without gaining any attention or causing any damage. Sadly the countless visitors of the past few years did their share of damage to both the stairs leading to the upper floor as well as to the wooden floor leading to the (dark) private section of the house – so we focused on clinic part as it seemed to be the much more interesting one anyway. The entrance area featured an old hat that reminded me of pre-WW2 photos I’ve seen of Japan many, many times, yet I don’t know what those were called and if they were military or school… which was kind of intergradient back in the days anyway. To the left was a large rack with countless old, but still smelly bottles, to the right were the treatment room and the office area… not THAT big, but enough to keep us busy for two, two and a half hours, thanks to lots of items big and small. Bottles with chemicals, a large water jug, office items, a black and white photo of a surgery scene, old patient files… a book, in German, published in 1923 – Tuberkulose der Kinder (“Pediatric tuberculosis”). Back then Japan “imported” pretty much all its medical knowledge from Germany… and tuberculosis was still a threat. It was like stepping back in time – and maybe one day photos like mine will be used to create 3D models of buildings like this. For science, for museums, for video games. To bring old neighborhood clinics like this back to life… when the last of them has been torn down to make space for yet another shopping mall…
Overall the Small Town Clinic was a pretty interesting exploration as it’s been a while since I’ve visited and written about the *Tokushima Countryside Clinic* – sadly it didn’t live quite up to the expectations and in the end it was no match for the most legendary of all old-style Japanese hospitals; but still a very good experience with some nice photo opportunities!

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