Nichitsu Ghost Town
Tucked away in the mountains about two hours outside of Chichibu sits the abandoned mining town of Nichitsu. Built to house the workers of a neighbouring mine, its popularity peaked in 1965 at 3000...now it sits derelict, decayed and forgotten at the end of a tiny hidden mountain road. There's heaps to check out and you can spend a couple of days here and still not see it all (I've made three visits so far). So its a must see if you know where it is and how to get there. The road leading to the town is extremely narrow, steep and curvey (and in the instance of an oncoming car, you have to be prepared to reverse a fair way back to a wider area of road to allow overtaking...as what happened to me on my first visit when I came head to head with a truck). You'll drive along this road for about 30 mintues before you spot a small mine and then you'll start to see shacks and dilapidated buildings on each side of the road. It gets kind of creepy here as you walk along its overgrown paths and sneak in and out of the buildings. Each time I've visited, its been quiet and isolated... but on one occasion, I bumped into two Japanese dudes who were taking photos (we surprised and scared each other in one of the living quarters) so we had a few giggles and hung out for a little while and checked a few things out together. It feels a little apocalyptic as you wander around with nothing but the sound of the wind howling through the trees. This also creates the eerie clattering sound from the window shutters and doors as they flap open and closed in the mountain breeze - truly isolating.
The town ascends up a hill and (depending on what time of year you visit), trees, vines and greenery cover most of it (in winter all the greenery is dead so it looks a lot sparser between December and April). At the bottom of the town sits the hospital - a truly awesome little haunt which still has some of its initial fittings and furnishings (albeit in a state of decay). There's a dental room, an operating theatre and a few rooms which contain medicine bottles, various medical tools and instruments, old x rays, books and even plastic teeth and dentures. The sunlight streaming through the green trees and vines which cover the windows casts a lush green hue over the interior making it seem kind of earthy and organic - I spent ages in here checking stuff out. Tucked away behind the hospital is the recreational centre which houses an awesome old decayed stage. Years of harsh weather beatings have caused part of its roof to cave in, allowing enought light inside to get a few good shots. Further up the hill sits the housing quarters, the sick bay and a few other recreational type spaces. There's a beautiful old building (it looked like it was a former hotel or something) which contains rooms full of old books tied up in bundles. Theres also heaps of vinyl records from the 1950's scattered all over the floor. If you're game and adventurous enough, you can climb a cliff on the other side of the road and check out some really dilapidated mountain houses which look kind of haunted as they stand alone in a dense foresty area surrounded by high pine trees (its totally Blair Witch meets Japan). If you make the climb, you have to be careful that you dont lose your footing or you'll end up face planting the stoney ground below. Inside these houses, the floors and walls are extremely decayed and waterlogged... so you have to tread carfeully...there's also this haunted feeling that creeps over you as you walk down the dark hallways (afterall, you're sneaking around in houses that have had years and years of different occupants...all who've left their energy behind...some good...some bad). The shadows will also play tricks on you as you light up each room with your torch - its awesome fun if you totally dig creeping yourself out!