Gunma Japan Haikyo Urban Exploring!

August 1, 2008 · Print This Article

I went on my first ever haikyo, or urban exploring as it’s called outside of Japan, with the Mikes in January 2008.  We rented a Nissan X-trail, which was a pleasure to drive by the way, and headed up deep into Gunma Prefecture, Japan.  Snow was everywhere and we were all very excited to be out of Tokyo and on our first adventure in a long time.  We went out seeking an abandoned theme park, volcano museum and schoolhouse.  We found them all, with varying degrees of difficulty.

gunma japan haikyo urban exploring graffitiFirst up was the theme park, which had a demolition crew waltzing around in it!  Undaunted I zipped the X-Trail on through up a high dirt road.  We stashed it there and set out to see what little remained of the theme park.  We got to see an old kitchen and wave pool.  To see the latter we had to walk right past two demolition dudes.  Eventually though our luck did run out and someone came over to us asking us to leave.  By the time we all got back in the X-Trail the gate was closed and locked.  The main dude in the worker’s trailer was not friendly at all and yelled at us.  Having enough of that we went to challenge the gate ourselves.  As if on que, as I drove up it opened!  Some other demolition dude wanted to drive in.  I said very matter-of-factly, “matta ashita,” which means “see you tomorrow” in Japanese.  With that we sped on through the gate laughing all the way.

jason collin gunma haikyo urban exploringvolcano museumNext up was the “crown jewel” of the trip, the volcano museum.  Once again we had to somewhat go past workers of some kind, but once up on the ascending road to the museum, we were totally alone and had the run of the place.  We each entered the museum from an different point.  I just walked in the front sliding glass doors.  The Mikes took some upstairs way in.  The museum was really full of all kinds of super interesting things.  Besides a cool, towering eruption model (see photos), in the basement we found samples and records dating back many years.  It was quite an Indiana Jones moment.  We went from the basement all the way up to the observation deck which offered a sweeping vista of the valley below and the surrounding mountains, all of which were snow covered.  

gunma japan haikyo urban exploring classroomThe next day we tracked down the abandoned schoolhouse.  This haikyo was the hardest to find because the road the car GPS navigation told us to take was closed due to impassibility!  We proved it was impassible too as we took the X-Trail as far up it (first having to move blockades out of the way ourselves!) as we dared.  Eventually the road was crumbling and we had to turn around.  The schoolhouse was in a very, very creepy and scary valley you enter through a tunnel in the mountains.  The place felt like a nowhere land.  Like a place you definitely didn’t want to get stuck in overnight.  We found student and teacher dormitories still littered with personal items.  The schoolhouse itself had some eerie PAN’S LABYRINTH looking settings (again, see photos below).  We each went on our own way exploring here again before regrouping to explore the final building, which was possibly the headmaster’s house.  Interesting adult material we found inside, no matter whose house it was!  I was glad to be gone from there before the sky darkened anymore.

Thus my first haikyo experience was a smashing success full of excitement, thrills and surprisingly many chills as well.

Welcome to Saitama Prefecture The Can nimbly hops a fence The Mikes walking along the remnants of a
The graffiti artists made it here first These guys should be locked up. They ratted me out and got me locked up too!
The Mikes with the rentd X-Trail Man-made ice wall What most roads looked like in Gunma, nice and snowy
A small restaurant nestled in the forest The abandoned museum is set in a stunning vista Volcano Museum--close up
Yours truly about to enter the museum This deer hasn't moved in a long, long time A chicken studying how to use an abacus
Being so close to an erupting volcano, real or fake, plays tricks on the camera Mike takes in the view upon shattered window shards There were mountains all around the museum
One part was still live, and had NASA looking orange foil lining it Me and the Mikes just looking around With shirts . . . .
. . . . without shirts! It only seemed natural to go topless. Men and mountain
A sweeping snowy landscape Me and the Mikes in front of the abandoned school It was quite cold, we all had to bundle up, and there was off-and-on light rain
No basketball around, just this backboard The Mikes doing some board work Lots of people wrote messages on this blackboard, I didn't
I liked this empty area An ice skate ready to be sharpened How the world look before it was ruined
These two items were right next to each other I have no idea why There can be no good purose for this device
Bad spot this moth got itself into Unhinged I don't think you can get a more eerie looking classroom
Same classroom in B&W Trapdoor in a classroom Close-up of the trapdoor

Gunma Haikyo VIDEO:  


BIG RED DOT — “Japan in Ruins”

Mike’s Blender — “Great Escapes Haikyo!”

Tokyo Times went to the same spot!


10 Responses to “Gunma Japan Haikyo Urban Exploring!”

  1. on August 2nd, 2008 12:29 AM

    That stuffed goat or whatever it is is pretty creepy. That volcanoe model looks cool.

    My uncle-in-law has an X-trail. It is a nice SUV. They don’t sell them in the US but I saw one once here in LA. I was surprised. When I got closer I saw that it had Mexico license plates.


    Jason Collin Reply:

    Yeah, I’m not sure what kind of 4-legged animal it was, but it certainly looked out of place up on that table. The volcano model was in surprisingly good shape, and I believe it was made out of some kind of foamy cotton-like material.

    The X-Trail drove like a dream. Powerful enough, great cornering, and a good view without feeling like one is driving a huge box.


  2. on August 2nd, 2008 12:59 AM

    Good post- only 8 months late! Maybe we’ll see the Malaysia post some time soon now?

    The animal I think was a young deer. It’s in a fair few other photos I’ve seen from this same haikyo- a bit of a talking point. I like that- that nobody messes with it or moves it around. It’s not a place casual vandals can easily get to.

    Thanks for the link.


  3. on August 7th, 2008 6:04 PM

    Going on a haikyo (urban exploring) in Gunma Japan!…

    A large photo gallery of haikyo (ruins, urban exploring) in various places in Gunma, Japan. The three haikyo were an old theme park, a volcano museum and a large schoolhouse. The photos are of all the old things still lying around in these places dec…

  4. on September 26th, 2008 10:25 PM

    […] Volcano Museum, amusement park, and schoolhouse in Gunma, Japan […]

  5. jero
    on December 5th, 2008 2:30 AM

    Hi. Nice site and shots!
    Thanks to your posting, I read for the first time about “Haikyo” or “Urban Exploring”.
    Seems interesting… How can I get information about interesting places in southern Japan?


    Jason Collin Reply:

    Thanks jero….glad to hear you are interested in urban exploring and haikyo. Well, if you can read Japanese, there is a book available that would include some haikyo in southern Japan. I don’t have the book, but my friend does. You could contact him through his site which features a lot more haikyo than mine does:

    You could be the first to write about those as we haven’t been to any much further south than Shizouka!


  6. on December 1st, 2009 3:52 AM

    […] trip. Mike and Mike have already posted shots from the Volcano Museum, the same one me, Mike, and Jason visited about two years ago- one of the first we ever explored. I’ll hold off for a while on […]

  7. on January 1st, 2010 9:15 PM

    […] to see it in a new light. See those shots on Mike’s site, Lee’s site, Gak’s site, Jason’s site, and my original […]

  8. on February 11th, 2012 2:07 AM

    […] was a fell place.  I do not wish to return, ever.”  Yet one year later I returned to the abandoned mining town in Gunma Prefecture, Japan.  The lure this time was a previously overlooked doctor’s clinic […]

Got something to say?