Friday, July 26, 2013

Haikyo #1: Pachinko Parlor

*Warning: entering abandoned areas can be dangerous. Please be wary of squatters, unstable structures, and hazardous materials. ALWAYS have your phone, and if you are alone, make sure someone knows what area you are in*

A favorite hobby of mine, ever since childhood, has been exploring abandoned places. Something about going through forgotten places has always filled me with a sense of curiosity and wonder. I think it is because I know that I am walking through a discarded piece of the past, a slice of history simply left to rot.

The biggest thing that still strikes me, even after doing this dozens of times, is what people decide to leave behind. Sometimes there's barely anything, the place is merely a shell, but other times, I quite honestly cannot believe what was forgotten. From simple things like clothes and toys, to things that I would never think to leave, like negatives from your wedding day.

Every time that I enter an abandoned place, which in Japan is called a Haikyo (廃墟), I find myself wondering what happened here? What lead this place to becoming forgotten? Because of this, my favorite part of exploring these ruins is trying to find clues as to who the people behind it were and what happened, and I hope that through my photos and stories, I can distill that feeling in a few of you as well. 

So without further ado, here is my first of hopefully many haikyo entries.

For my first entry I am going to start with a small exploration, a closed pachinko parlor. 

I noticed this particular place during my routine drives down Rt 49 from Iwaki to Koriyama, every time I drove by, I wanted to check it out, but every time it somehow happened to be raining. 
This place consists of 3 buildings, the pachinko parlor, managers house and a combo kitchen / apartment. 

The pachinko parlor
The kitchen/workshop and apartment

I began my exploration by, fittingly enough, walking through the houses front door.
The indoor shoes were still waiting patiently for their owners to return and use them again.

The house appeared to be a pretty nice home, but completely empty of important belongings. So I quickly moved onwards to the connecting pachinko lounge.

Believe it or not, I have lived in Japan for 2.5 years, but this was my first time stepping into one of these places...

Everything seemed pretty run of the mill when it comes to haikyos, until I came to the other side of the gaming center and was confronted with a scene I was not too happy to see. A squatter had been here.
And he likes Hello Kitty
I checked the piles of cans lying around, and everything was long expired, so I figured I was safe, but sped up my time in this building just to be safe. You never know what kind of person could be in one of these places, and it is something I try to never discover firsthand.

The last thing that really struck me while going through the parlor was the many dead birds, I spent a long time searching for any opening to help keep it from happening again, but to no avail.

In the next building, I found that this location had also been home to a small restaurant.

It became clear very quickly that whomever had been doing their laundry in the parlor, had been sleeping next door in the bar area. Again though, after checking the dates on the magazines beside the bed, it appeared that whomever this person was, they had moved on a long time ago.

The documents I found lying around both the parlor and bar suggest that this place closed back around 1997/98, and from the stack of unpaid bills that were in the office, I'd say it was because the owners went bankrupt. A true shame.

Please, let me know what you thought of this entry, if there's something it is lacking or if there are too many / too few photos. Any advice and tips are quite welcome.

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