Holidays

Abandoned Places: Ghosts of Vacations Past

by Colleen Clark

Asama Volcano Museum, Asama, Japan

Exploring abandoned buildings has become a cult hobby in Japan, where crumbling bowling alleys, love hotels, theme parks, and museums bear witness to the country's rural flight and cyclical boom-and-bust periods. The pastime, known as haikyo, carries with it the same code of conduct as hiking: "Take only pictures, leave only footprints." That may explain why sites like this abandoned volcano museum remain preserved in such a suspended state. Here, stuffed deer, jars of snakes and squid, and butterfly displays sit unmolested. Out of a topographical map of the area grows a cotton-ball cloud of volcanic ash. Music tinkles eerily from the observation deck (reportedly played by seismologists working in the area), and rusting lookout binoculars gaze at the still-active Mount Asama. Recent eruptions blew in the windows of the top floor of the UFO-like building, and threat of volcanic annihilation lurks menacingly in the distance.

Asama Volcano Museum
Asama, Japan

Picture courtesy of GaijinSeb, Flickr

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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