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Urban Exploration / Abandonments 2013/3/6 03:21
"Urban exploration" is the exploration of abandonments. As a photographer I absolutely love it because I am able to photograph deteriorating locations that once told an amazing story. However, many people "urban explore" illegaly by trespassing, B&E, etc. I did this quite a bit in my youth and was lucky that when I was caught the security guards saw I was only taking photos and would either let me continue or politely asked me to leave. The older I got though, I only began to "urban explore" when I had permission from whoever owned the property. I've explored hospitals, jails, and houses with permission.

I came across this website (haikyo.org) and saw that Japan has some beautiful abandonments. When I visit I would not risk trespassing or anything because I am just a visitor of the country and do not want to deal with the legal aspects of possibly get caught. A friend who has been over there for almost three months now has got permission for a couple places to take photographs of. He was able to do this because he only took photos and did not post the name or location of the property (to prevent others from trying to see it). He has lined up permission visits for me at these locations for when I go to Japan (next month).

I want to ask though - how common is this "activity"? If it's not common at all, why? I know in my home state it is common because the police do not crack down on trespassing, B&Es, etc. They typically let you go - as long as they see you are not disrupting or destroying anything. Because of this though, many youngsters have started trouble and now they are cracking down and permission visits are very limited.

What is Japan like? I know I am lucky to have a friend who's able to get me a permission visit to 2 places.
by urbexer (guest)  

Re: Urban Exploration / Abandonments 2013/3/6 15:47

I'm not sure if there is a name for it, but it is indeed quite common in Japan. Photography itself is popular to begin with. You can even find photos by professional photographers or semi-professionals all over the internet if you try.

But of course, as you suggest, Japan is quite strict about not only tresspassing but about privacy as far as photography and publishment is concerned. The other thing is that each municipal keep an eye on abandoned buildings, and most of them are torn down sooner or later while the construction industry of this country is always too eager on seeking development.

So a lot of photographers tend to keep an eye on information about buildings or areas that are planned to close down for various reasons such as antiseismic problems or new devepment. And residential buildings often do not welcome photography, but commercial places do.

This is just for reference.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

... 2013/3/6 19:01
I don't speak Japanese but I always assumed the Japanese word for "urbex" was "haikyo" p as mentioned on the haikyo.org website. Certainly lots of useful images/sites show up if you search for the kanji for haikyo. Perhaps Uco can clarify.

I haven't done much urbex but I always assumed the best approach is to get in touch with a few of the other urbex people in a country you plan to visit and there is a sort of network of people who know people who can point you in the direction of some of the better areas.

From Haikyo.org a couple of other blogs are mentioned so I'd start with contacting some of those people too.
Good contact link here:-
More Haikyo/Urbex

I'm a fan of dsankt's work, he used to post regularly on another forum I'm on, and I'm pretty sure he travels around meeting up with fellow urbexers. He went to Japan a few years ago:-

Probably plenty more if you search for "Urbex Japan" or "Haikyo Japan" or "p"

Sounds like you understand the legal implications of some of these visits, so good luck.

Enjoy your trip!
by GC3 rate this post as useful

Re: Urban Exploration / Abandonments 2013/3/7 01:15
This has been very helpful, thank you. I wonder if you would consider exploring abandonments in Japan more dangerous than in the US? Like I said, the state I live in has began to crack down. I was lucky when I first used to explore without permission that I was let go, but I read time after time about youngsters and even photographers being arrested for trespassing, B&Es, etc. I know it is hard to say, but would you consider Japan for strict on this?

I found quite a few galleries from Hashima Island. If I could pick any abandonment to photograph, it would be Hashima Island. Is there any possible way to photograph it or did these people photography it illegaly/without permission/what have you?
by urbexer (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Urban Exploration / Abandonments 2013/3/11 22:38
Actually, "haikyo" means "abandoned building," so again, I'm not sure if there really is a fixed term to mean "exploring abaondoned buildings." But of course, "haikyo p" would be a great keyword when doing your internet search.

As for Hashima, where there literally are no residents any more, disembarking itself was illegal until 2009, according to Wikipedia. Wiki also mentions that since 2010 there have been organized tours for those who are interested in looking around and taking photos there. The following NPO may be a good place to start your search.

Here's another website you might be interested in. Click the index for photos of various abandonments in Japan. Btw, right now I'm interested in visiting the last Dojunkai apartment which is to be torn down in May.

From this website, we can also learn that there are meetings being held on the theme of Hashima, the so-called Gunkanjima.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

Forgot to mention 2013/3/11 22:46
As for Hashima, it's a matter of disembarking or not, but as for abaondonments that all have access to, being a foreign tourist can be an advantage, because you can predend you didn't know anything. But then, it can also be a disadvantage, because the authority might be extra suspicious against foreign visitors.

But I would say that Japan is a kind of a country where you will not get arrested as long as you promptly obey whatever the policeman points out. But of course, you are expected to avoid yourself from pointing your camera to rooms where people live in.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Urban Exploration / Abandonments 2013/3/12 01:22
Uco, great information! Thank you! Do you visit/take photos of abandonments? I am always interested to hear other's stories and see photos!
by urbexer (guest) rate this post as useful

... 2013/3/12 06:03
Tours to Hashima are explained here:-

Most of the good photos that you see of it are by people who have not joined tours and have arrived at the island using different methods.
by GC3 rate this post as useful

about me 2013/3/12 16:03

I'm not actually an urban explor"er" if that's what you're asking, but I have a thing about places (as well as people) you might never see again. I seem to miss them more than others would normally do.

So whenever I hear about places being planned to be torn down for good, I try to "record" them as much as possible in my own very amateur way.

For example, the Toyoko Line Shibuya Station platform is being shut down this Friday, and I've been taking digital footages and photos of it and its surroundings in the last weeks.

As I suggested it's like therapy to me, so I enjoy the fact that, when I go to Shibuya, strangers around me are doing the same. I feel that I'm not alone.

I also like the gorgeous designs of the older buildings, be it abondoned or not. Especially cealings and lights aren't at all the kind we see in the newest architecture.

But I probably lean towards more to the sense of people living in them. So rather than the emptiness of places completely abandoned, I enjoy visiting what we in Japan call "ko-minka (old folk house)." I especially love galleries and cafes situated inside old homes that are like the ones I used to grow up in. Perhaps it's a female thing :)
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Urban Exploration / Abandonments 2013/4/4 10:29
Hey urbexer,

You can do Hashima three ways:
1.) Official tourist tour. (Limited to a path in the south.)
2.) Try to hire a fisherman to bring you there.
3.) Get official permission from the Nagasaki City and go there with one of their people. (You are allowed to go close to the buildings, but they usually prevent you from entering.)

Overall urbex in Japan is a lot safer than in other countries since abandoned places usually don't have security (which means that they are really abandoned...) and you barely ever run into homeless people or drug addicts. I'd stay away from places infamous for having security (Nara Dreamland, Glucks Kingdom) or are just closed, but not abandoned (like the New Zealand Villages).
by Florian / Abandoned Kansai (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Urban Exploration / Abandonments 2013/4/24 15:29
I will be in Tokyo next month and it seems like virtually all these spots are outside of Tokyo with the exception of one. Are there recommendations for places I can do in a day trip from Tokyo?
by Saus (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Urban Exploration / Abandonments 2013/4/24 17:22
Check in with Lee of the TokyoTimes.org for locations of abandoned places in around Tokyo that he likes to photograph: http://www.wordpress.tokyotimes.org/?cat=36
by Hoshisato rate this post as useful

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