Doctor’s clinic in ruined black & white

February 2, 2009 · Print This Article

This was a return to a place upon first leaving I thought to myself, “this 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 that held rumors of such oddities as  a “preserved brain” in a jar and decaying surgical instruments.  All the rumors, it turned out, were true.

I do not believe sunshine ever touches the fell valley where the haikyo mining town sits in an omnipresent overcast mist.  No rain was falling this time, but it was cold and grim as ever.  Even knowing that the doctor’s clinic existed did not make it any easier to find this time.  There were no big red crosses nor blue ones.  No medical insignias upon sign posts.  The first clue that the building was the doctor’s clinic was only found in the building itself in the form of a narrow stretcher, listlessly lying upon rubble in the middle of a sagging room.

Solid confirmation came when I saw up close the much rumored “preserved brain” as seen in the photograph above.  Discovering the brain was almost like discovering the Holy Grail so much had it been discussed previously among my haikyo enthusiast friends.  I looked upon it transfixed fighting many urges to remove it from its jar and hold it in my bare hands.  The urge to take a bite of it even entered my mind!

The other rooms of the doctor’s clinic were all horror movie set ready.  Rusted instruments and a terrible examination table decorated rooms with sunken and rotted floors.  If all that were not enough, the end room belonged to a dentist whose floor was littered with broken teeth molds.  They crackled under foot as I blindly trod upon them at first.

I can now safely declare, that never again shall I visit that fell valley.  Never.


The stock room with organs and pills Perhaps a brain of a sub-human still floats un-decaying A very narrow looking stretcher
A surgical nurse told me this is an old device for both cutting and stapling together colons My first impression of the wood box was that it was a tackle box An instrument for spreading open a surgical incision
examination table room where you could still feel the screams This room looked like it exploded of its own devices A protruding machine of un-guessed purpose
I bet a lot of people would like to take revenge on a dentist office like this One drop from these will do no harm, perhaps This looks like something from Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory to me.
No one in my party was willing to let me inject them with this, unfortunately Perhaps the motor to a perpetual motion machine? I like to think this is a device for alchemy
For some reason I had to fight taking a taste of this brain-like organ, my mind was telling me to do it!    


24 Responses to “Doctor’s clinic in ruined black & white”

  1. on February 2nd, 2009 9:43 PM

    Horrible ruined doctor’s clinic in black & white…

    Black & white photographs of a horribly ruined doctor’s clinic that was long abandoned in Gunma Prefecture. This haikyo location was horror movie set ready, with even an old preserved brain floating eerily in a decaying jar. …

  2. on February 3rd, 2009 12:37 AM

    That place is sick. More then any other haikyo this one makes me wonder why the heck it is allowed to remain standing. Why doesn’t the J government do something about these places?


    Jason Collin Reply:

    Well, this clinic is truly, truly in the middle of nowhere. I mean not a single thing around for several square miles. It’s nowhere near a main road of any kind. You really have to go out of your way to get there. There is only one road in and out of the valley (the upper road is blocked off).

    So it’s not like young kids could or would ever stumble upon this place. And unless you buy a very specific haikyo book, you’d never even know it existed.

    You know you have to pay to have TVs recycled in Japan, so I’m sure the owners of the mine did not want to do that and just left the place virtually intact, and the Japanese government maybe doesn’t really even know about the place.


  3. on February 3rd, 2009 1:30 AM

    Strange that a clinic would be so remote. Maybe that’s why the brain is there. It shows the clinic was probably used for bizarre experiments and medical treatments. That is why they wanted to be in such a remote location.


    Jason Collin Reply:

    The clinic was in support of a mining town there in the valley. The whole area is now a ghost town. There was also even a school.

    There are a few more photos of the mining town in this post:

    I hope nothing too bizarre went on there!


  4. on February 3rd, 2009 1:58 AM

    Man, this is so cool! ‘Holy Grail of Haikyo’ was no understatement! When I get back to Japan, this place is first on my list of places to go :p

    I’ll be getting my first Haikyo pictures up soon I imagine! It’s been fantastic getting into this sort of thing – I didn’t relise just how many derelict places there were until I actually opened my eyes and looked around me!

    Btw, where are these ‘much talked about’ palces you mention? Any forums?


    Jason Collin Reply:

    The much talked about places come from a Japanese book on haikyo and from a few people who have gone to these areas before me (us). I am not the leader or discoverer of these places. I am just a driver and ride the coattails of a friend. He has gone to many more haikyos than me. They can be seen here:


  5. on February 3rd, 2009 10:12 AM

    That’s pretty intense, you’re a braver man than I.. Makes me wonder if there isn’t a lucrative business to be made in shooting music videos in such places?


    Jason Collin Reply:

    Chris it made me laugh to read your comment that I’m braver than you considering you sleep on snowy mountain tops solo!

    Perhaps my photos made the place seem a little creepier than it was in person. That said, I definitely wouldn’t want to go there alone. Even outside the clinic is pretty scary.

    And I would think most definitely these would be great places to shoot music videos and video of any kind. I think I didn’t take my Xacti out at all in this clinic, unfortunately. I do have some creepy haikyo hotel footage I’ll post soon.


  6. Jon
    on February 3rd, 2009 1:58 PM

    I don’t see the appeal of going to a place like this. You’re finding these places from some resource, so it dulls sense of discovery and danger you would otherwise have if you stumbled upon it. But, I guess it would still be creepy even if you knew what was waiting there for you. You spent the night at one of these places, right? I can’t imagine anyone wanting to sleep anywhere near that place.

    I like your pictures of the instruments. They blur and fade into the darkness wonderfully. Do you think that jar of brain was planted there by someone in the Haikyo community to generate hype about this location and Haikyo in general? Why would that kind of research be done on-site?

    It does look like the kind of place I would imagine snuff films to be made.


    Jason Collin Reply:

    Yes, it would be great to find places like this by stumbling upon them, but I would say it would be near impossible to ever stumble upon this place. When I visit you this spring we’ll try and find the place on Google Maps and you’ll see how remote it is.

    Actually, no one randomly finds these places. Japanese dudes with serious research skills comb bankruptcy records to find potential haikyo sites. This is of course far beyond my skills and time allotment.

    There are other minor haikyo sites that can be and have been stumbled upon, but epic ghost towns like this one are really, really in the middle of nowhere and are damn hard to find still even knowing that they exist is a specific location.

    The haikyo I slept overnight in was fairly posh actually. It was an actual hotel room in near perfect condition. You can see a photo of the room we stayed in here:

    Yeah, no way I would stay anywhere in that valley even after sunset, never mind over night. Maybe only if I had that gun protection system they had in Aliens, but even then . . . .

    Thanks about the photos. The blur and out of focus areas are called “bokeh” in photography terms, and it’s actually a Japanese word meaning out of focus.

    My feeling is the brain was always there. That’s not based on any knowledge, jut my feeling of having seen it in that setting. It definitely looked like it had been there for decades and was of the same time. There were other smaller organs in jars as well.

    Totally could film such a film there.

    The one theory I did start to develop about the haikyo community is that they mark the time they visit there by hanging calendars because in buildings surrounding the clinic I found calendars from 2003 and 2004. In another area a calendar from 1973 was found, which I estimate to be the hey day of the mining town.


  7. on February 3rd, 2009 5:31 PM

    “preserved brain” is just crazy. Great pics as always.

    After reading your email, I went out and decided to buy the 80-200mm. Hopefully it is here in the next week or so.

    Thanks for the advice!


    Jason Collin Reply:

    Thanks Jay….let me know when you’re 80-200mm arrives. I am sure you will love it. Hope you can sleep at night! I wouldn’t be able to knowing a lens is coming!


    jay Reply:

    I will admit sleep was a little tough last night. It is ridiculous how excited I get now over camera gear.


    Jason Collin Reply:

    Good, I’m glad to hear it!

    I just might be coming into some new gear myself soon.

  8. on February 6th, 2009 9:54 AM

    Great shots- black and white really lends that creepy atmosphere. Also great words- really led me into the photos well. Nice use of a LOTR type word- ‘fell’.


    Jason Collin Reply:

    Thanks….about the shots, I can’t believe I didn’t think to shoot in black & white at a haikyo before.

    And you know how much I like the word “fell.”


  9. on February 10th, 2009 11:03 AM

    These photos would be great in framed poster format. A wall series of 3 or 5 shots. If I was a doctor, I’d hang them in my office.


    Jason Collin Reply:

    That’s a good idea for displaying these photos Steve! We can work on it when I get back next week!


    Steve-O Reply:

    I have many great ideas! Just call me Kramer! We should definitely try to meet up next week. The next few months will be rough with me taking review classess all weekend for my P.E. license. Tweet Anna and we’ll meet for dinner on Friday or something.


    Jason Collin Reply:

    P.E. as in physical education instructor or some kind of P engineer?

    Yeah, we’ll only be in Tampa from Monday night (just flying in) until Saturday at noon, but we’ll be back soon so if no time next week soon there after. Will be on Twitter and everything as usual and hopefully will have an iPhone by Tuesday. Boom!

  10. on February 18th, 2009 10:24 PM

    The preserved brain is creepy. The office looks exactly like something I saw in a Japanese horror film. I half expect something to pop out of the walls.

    There are a few old and abandoned places around my dad’s hometown too, mostly houses whose families have gone abroad and left no one to take care of their property. The old houses are most poignant for me, given their history. My grandfather would occasionally tell us about the days of old and it makes me sad that such sites aren’t preserved.


    Jason Collin Reply:

    I would like to hear your grandfather’s stories of the days of old. It’s a shame houses go to waste like that.

    Have you taken any photos of those houses?


    Kat Reply:

    None recently, I’m afraid. I lost the old photographs I had and it was only last year that I got a digital camera. I plan to go around this summer though (summer meaning April to early June here) and take some pictures. Hopefully, I can get him to tell the stories too. :)


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