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Tochigi Clinic


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Hidden behind trees and shrubs, this cute and creepy little medical clinic sits on a quiet roadside in a rural area of Tochigi Prefecture.  Research tells me that it opened prior to World War 2 (or possibly prior to World War 1?)... but the date of its closure remains unknown.  Judging by the style and typefaces on the labels of the medicine bottles found within, I’m going to perhaps assume that it closed its doors sometime in the 40’s or 50's.  Being new years day,   I was extremely hung over after partying with mates for NYE in Tokyo...and having to wake up at 5 am to get the shinkansen to Utsonomiya, and then drive to this remote location...I kind of wasn't coping all that well.


The clinic sits about 150 meters from the road side, so I snuck behind a few trees and crept through some shrubs and simply entered through the front door...(entering an abandoned building via its front door was actually a first for me...).   A reception and patient waiting area littered with small Japanese books and patient cards greeted me.  I checked things out and decided to move further down the buildings frail central wooden hallway.  It was then that I found a beautiful consultation room filled with old medical treasures and relics from a bygone era.   Dusty bottles of medicine with what appeared to be early 20th century labels still sat on shelves.  On the doctors dusty wooden table sat a few small vials, exotic tinctures, glass chemistry bottles, rusted wound cleaning implements and more bottles of medicine.  In a top drawer I found glass syringes, rusty scissors, tweezers and other medical bits and pieces.   Attached to this room was an operating theatre with a small creepy little surgical bed sitting in its centre…whether this was for children I am unsure? but it seemed far too small for an adult.  In the corner sat a beautiful little porcelain basin.   Oh and the original early 20th century light bulbs still dangling in tact from the ceiling...these were truly magical.   


This traditional Taisho era (the period from 1912 to 1926) building is made completely of wood (apart from a few plaster walls on the inside).  Unfortunatley, after years of cold winters, humid wet summers and torrential rains, the structure is now on its last legs.  The strong winter winds outside made me feel as if it's walls were going to crash down around me like a flimsy house of cards, so I walked with extreme caution.   I also wanted to be careful not to fall through the severely waterlogged floor (and also took extra care to avoid causing any damage to this delicate little accidental museum).


As to what specific type of surgery this clinic specialised in, I'm unsure.  But scattered around the building I found a number of labelled jars and some small glass tanks which appeared to have once held organs in formaldehyde… so all of this made me think that the physician (or physicians) dealt with some sort of human biological research.   Along with this I found a bunch of very old cranial X rays... so perhaps this place also dealt with brain related illnesses.   Wandering around I also found a few small rooms which appeared to have been utilised as patient wards at some point…but most of these spaces were empty, apart from some old medical books and a few 1940’s Japanese magazines scattered over the floors.  


Time and the elements had left this place in a state of dissaray, but I was amazed that a majority of the medical bits and pieces still remained untouched in their original positions since the doctor left all those years ago.   I guess nobody would know or even think that this dilapidated wooden shack covered in trees and shrubs was actually an old doctors surgery full of medical treasures...and perhaps this is one of the  reasons as to why it has remained in tact.  


An awesome little place to creep around in on a wintery Japanese afternoon.

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