"In fact, it is so untouched that there’s a real sense the students will suddenly return. Each and every one of the small class charging in from the entrance."
September 28, 2011 7:42 AM   Subscribe

"Pretty much all haikyo that contain items related to the building’s past are interesting. On the odd occasion even empty structures are too. But while memory-filled houses and sorry-looking snake centres are fascinating in their own very different ways, there’s arguably something that little bit special about a long-abandoned school." An abandoned but perfectly preserved Japanese school.

From the article: "In reality, however, it’s an awfully long time since any students studied in this room — 37 years ago to be exact.

Under an old procedure that gave away forest land as a ‘gift’ from the Imperial House — an antiquated practice that was eventually superseded by the National Forest system — the mountain village that surrounds the school began life back in 1907. The school, on the other hand, was apparently founded in the previous century, in 1873. Quite why it would have been built in such an out of the way spot really isn’t clear, but with the arrival of the village 34 years later, its location was ideal."
posted by jbickers (10 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
posted by delmoi at 7:51 AM on September 28, 2011

Beautiful photos. I'm glad that explorers have treated the place with respect.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 7:56 AM on September 28, 2011

Somehow those photos seem inexpressably sad. An ordinary abandoned building evokes a "...but now they are all gone..." sigh, certainly. But when the absent people were (except for Amemiya-sensei) all children, that's especially piercing.
posted by jfuller at 8:06 AM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Wow, that's the least anachronistic abacus I've ever seen...thanks for the peaceful post.
posted by obscurator at 8:14 AM on September 28, 2011

It's weirdly heartwarming and frightening. I keep expecting someone to say "...but where have the children gone?" as parents sob quietly in the background.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:27 AM on September 28, 2011

This is excellent but it makes it more eerie to me coming from Japan, shades of those empty houses and streets built on nuclear proving grounds. Although I did freak myself out deliciously one day exploring a similarly abandoned school in Taiwan, and that was on a sunny day on a hill with a view of the ocean.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 8:38 AM on September 28, 2011

Nicely photographed thanks for demonstrating how places are just as important as people.
posted by Meatafoecure at 8:39 AM on September 28, 2011

The preservation of older schools extends deep into the past as well. Check out these google photos of Shizutani School, formed in the late 17th century during the Edo period to educate the masses (and said to be the first non-aristocratic school in Japan). Located in the modern prefecture of Okayama, the now-defunct school is open to the public, and you can wander through the halls and look at samples of the Confucian tracts the students memorized as part of their lessons.
posted by Gordion Knott at 10:08 AM on September 28, 2011

Many Japanese - having attended one when they were young - are quite conflicted about these old wooden schools. The undeniable warmth and human 'scale' of the structures has to be unfortunately balanced against the fact that they are death traps in an emergency (fire, earthquake).

Here's an experience I had with such a school, back in 1994. [self-link ...]
posted by woodblock100 at 3:27 PM on September 28, 2011

If you're curious, the statue in the first photo is of Ninomiya Sontoku, a sort of secular patron saint of studiousness.
posted by SPrintF at 7:00 PM on September 28, 2011

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