7 years in Japan

I arrived being 23 years old and recently I celebrated my 30th birthday. It seems like yesterday when I arrived to this place that looked so alien to me and now it feels like home. Did Japan adapt to me or did I adapt to Japan? When I go back to Spain I feel weird in my home country and when I return to Tokyo I feel like I’m at home. I arrived to Japan being a kid and in Japan I learned how to live in the world of adults, it could have been anywhere in the world but for some reason it was here. I can’t imagine how my life would be now if I had never come here, I guess I would be happy as well but my reality would be much different.

I saw the world from Asia, I traveled a lot, I visited places that surprised my imagination, I learned a language that changed my way of thinking, I lived in one of the largest cities in the world and every time it feels smaller and smaller but it still stimulates me with many new sensations. I worked and I still work with somebody that brought the WWW to Japan, with somebody that worked at Sony in the team that invented the Walkman, with simple people that built and are still building incredible things, with people from which I learn every day and I laugh every day at lunch time.

Our place and our job define most of our realities but what really defined my last years in Tokyo have been my friends. Friends that have been in Tokyo for a short time, friends that come and friends that go away, friends that come to Japan just because they want to see me, friends that I made in Tokyo and left, friends that I made in Switzerland, in California, in Australia and other corners around the world and later on came to Japan to visit me.

There’s nothing that makes me sadder than when loved ones start to disappear from the group photos that we usually take in Tokyo. People that when you are beginning to really care about, they leave Tokyo to follow their chosen life path, and I’m forced to start missing them.

I see photos from 6 years ago, I see photos from 3 years ago, I see photos from 1 month ago and I find the faces of Yanis, that now lives in Greece, Pierre that went back to Paris, with Alvaro that now works in New York, with Fer that felt in love with Singapore, with Ignacio that decided to travel around the world with his camera, with Ema that came back to Italy with his people, with Alain that went to surf to Okinawa, with Koto that went to San Francisco, with Adriaan that went back to the Netherlands to escape radiation, with Xavi that was only some months in Tokyo and then came back to Bangkok, with Carlos that every day surprises me with his e-mails from Madrid, with Johan that came back with his family in Sweden, with Sara that last week was still here with us and now lives in Manhattan…

I don’t only miss their presence in pictures, I also miss their conversations, their jokes, their smiles, their questions, their explanations, their doubts, their rants… I admire all of them. Each one of them unique, each one of them irreplaceable.

Many of them came and left, but also many of us are still here, and many new friends are starting to share a new path with us, and we are sharing it with them. We are a global generation, a global family, Internet makes us feel closer to our friends wherever we are, however planes are still as “slow” as 40 years ago.

A generation of those that decided to pursue their dreams and conquer the world. A generation that knows what’s great and exciting about living in a global city like Tokyo, London, Paris, San Francisco, Singapore or New York; and that also feels the pain of getting to love people that you know sooner or later will leave to the other side of the ocean.

To my mother, who doesn’t know how to say me how much she misses me I promise I will try to get on a plane more frequently so that she can see me in person instead of through a screen. To those that left Japan I also promise that I will visit you wherever you are, even if I have to travel around the world several times; and to those of you that came to Tokyo to visit me, I promise visiting you as well.

To all my family and friends that I feel close to me even though they live far away; I would love them to be here with me in Tokyo or that I would be wherever they are. To all of them I dedicate these 7 years in Japan; it was not Tokyo, it was them that made all these years so special, it was them that made me a better person. I wish you all the best along the path that you decided to take. Thanks to you all and see you soon!

19.- The most important thing is not the place where you live but the people around you that you share your life with. Take care of them as much as you can. – From my 30th birthday post

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Nichitsu Ghost Town

This summer we visited Nichitsu Ghost Town, our second visit to a haikyo 廃墟 after exploring an abandoned hospital in Atsugi last year. This time our destination was much further from Tokyo, near the heart of Japan, where Gunma, Saitama and Nagano prefectures get together. We rented a van, and Antonio, our beloved driver, took us to one of the most remote places in Japan.

We ascended following rivers that opened up their path between valleys that were narrower and narrower as we advanced. The last tunnel that we got through was a one way tunnel so narrow that our van could barely fit. We just saw darkness and a white light at the end where we would be seeing the first building of a mine and a town that were abandoned when the mountains ran out of any valuable minerals.

Haikyo

Haikyo

Haikyo

The town sprung up because of a nearby mine that produced gold around the year 1600 and later iron and zinc. In 1937 the mines were bought by “Nichitsu Corporation” and thus the name of the town. Around 1978 the workers and their families started to abandon the place because the mines were depleting and were not profitable anymore.

We spent our day exploring the town. Houses, employee residences, warehouses to store mine tools, a supermarket, a sento (public baths) and even a theater and a hospital. It’s kind of creepy to walk around places where there has been life in the past and it feels like everything disappeared from one night to the next morning. We found all kinds of objects, from x-rays in a hospital to family photos that we found in a room of a mine workers. It felt like most of the inhabitants vanished and left most of their belongings there so they could be forgotten throughout time. It was like traveling in a time machine, a trip that captivated us until our cameras ran out of memory cards and films.

Nichitsu

Haikyo

Nichitsu Ghost Town

Nichitsu Ghost Town

Nichitsu Ghost Town

Nichitsu Ghost Town

Nichitsu Ghost Town
The hospital operating room

Nichitsu Ghost Town

Nichitsu Ghost Town
The theater/auditorium of the town

Nichitsu Ghost Town
Photo of the theater by Ikusuki

Nichitsu Ghost Town
A computer! Photo by Ikusuki

Nichitsu Ghost Town
Very old televisions. Photo by Ikusuki

Nichitsu Ghost Town
Pablo scanning the area

Nichitsu Ghost Town
A Playboy magazine

Haikyo

Haikyo

Haikyo

Haikyo
The floor was full of x-rays and medical records of patients

Nichitsu Ghost Town

Nichitsu Ghost Town

Nichitsu
A room in the hospital where there are still leftovers of the treatment for the last patient.

廃墟 Haikyo
Surgical instruments. Photo by CaDs

Nichitsu Ghost Town
An Aquarius can looked like this in Japan many years ago.

Nichitsu Ghost Town
Antonio in the supermarket

Nichitsu Ghost Town
Objects in one of the rooms in a residence

Nichitsu Ghost Town

Nichitsu Ghost Town

Nichitsu Ghost Town
Group photo in the operating room.

Nichitsu
This is me directing a short film that I share with you at the end of this post. Photo by Saralú.

Nichitsu
Photos of a father and his son. I didn’t dare to take pictures, the photo of the photos was taken by Saralú.

Nichitsu
A ghost? Photo by Saralú.

廃墟 Haikyo
Sony Betamax. Photo by CaDs

廃墟 Haikyo
Scary! Photo by CaDs

廃墟 Haikyo
A Family Computer, known in the west as NES. Photo by CaDs

Nichitsu Ghost Town
Photo by Ikusuki

Nichitsu Ghost Town
Erotic VHS. Photo by Ikusuki

Nichitsu Ghost Town
Somebody was here before us. Photo by Ikusuki

Nichitsu Ghost Town
One of the ofuros in town. Photo by Ikusuki

Nichitsu Ghost Town
These are some of the cameras that we brought.

The haikyo team
Only Scooby Doo is left on the picture.

To go in a group was great; if I had gone alone to this town whose name contains the word “Ghost” (Nichitsu Ghost Town), it would have been quite scary. We tried to have fun, we didn’t become ghosts, but we became zombies and after several attempts we were able to catch Sara in a corner 😉 :


Make it full screen and use headphones to enjoy a better experience.

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