Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Urbex - The Art of Urban Exploration

In Japanese the word 'Haikyo' is used to describe a ruin or abandoned building. It is also sometimes used to describe the past-time of urban exploration or 'urbex'. Urbex is the exploration of man-made structures, usually abandoned ruins. Japan seems particularly blessed with numerous abandoned buildings or haikyo, perhaps as a result of its rapid industrialization (and the contribution of world wars and natural disasters).

The Haikyo website is dedicated to finding and documenting Japan's abandoned buildings. The website is run by Jordy Meow, who has spent years exploring and writing about Japan's many abandoned and ruined locations. Haikyo includes a Google Map of 162 haikyo in Japan. These haikyo are all categorized by type (e.g. abandoned schools, theme parks, hospitals etc). You can view individual interactive maps for each of these categories.

All of the locations listed on Haikyo include photographs and notes. The photos provide a fascinating record of Japan's crumbling past and, for those of us who don't live in Japan, are probably the closest we will ever get to exploring these haikyo ...

... unless you visit Hashima Island - The Forgotten World

The abandoned Japanese island of Hashima, in Nagasaki Prefecture, is probably Japan's most famous haikyo. Hashima Island - The Forgotten World is an amazing tour of Google's Street View imagery of the island. The tour includes lots of information into the historical background of the featured locations and the desolate landscape.

The site is a great guide to the island, adding context and the back-story to Google's amazing imagery of Hashima. The Street Views in this tour have been enhanced with some CSS3 filters to create an even spookier atmosphere, which is intensified further by the accompaniment of some suitably spectral background music and sound. The children's voices and school-bells that play when you stand in Hashima Primary School playground made the hairs on the back of my neck stand-up.

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