March 01, 2012

The Ghost Town I Missed

Don links to an interesting post over at Spike Japan which describes a ghost town.

It's of particular interest to me because, I'd narrowly missed this ghost town due to poor timing. 

Let me explain.

On my last foray into Japan, I took a detour when the bullet train stopped at Sakurandai and (as I was often wont to do) got off on a local line (the Koumi line) to explore the less traveled areas. The abandoned town Kiyosato is near the end of the of the line and by the time I got there it was already dark. Had I come the other way, via the Chuo line past Mt Fuji, I'd have seen it.

What I DID do was bumble between nearby Anonuma and Usuda looking for what turned out to be a more or less abandoned museum that was quite peculiar in its location...amongst other things. I also stopped in Koumi, and Shinano-Kawakami which is only two stops from the ghost town at the link...(たいへん!).

 See here.

While walking to the "turret" I encountered an abandoned building that appeared to be a rec center (but I can't quite make out the kanji)

And of course there was the much photographed shrine which appeared to have been abandoned. As well as lots of half finished landscaping that had not been worked on in a while and had washed out a bit.

 Spike Japan says that Kiyosato was abandoned due to consolidations resulting from local mismanagement.

This certainly jives with some of the oddball things I photographed nearby like the museum and the seemingly outsize, yet unfinished station at Koumi proper,. It had a skyway across the tracks, but no stairs to the other side, causing passengers to have to walk across the tracks to get to one of the platforms. I saw a few other projects that looked like they'd just stopped in mid construction...a few years ago.

My Japanese is very cursory and I only know about 200 kanji (so I'm functionally illiterate). For this reason I'm loathe to comment on Japanese  politics , however the local take on this ( near the Koumi line and at Washinomiya) was slightly different.

In both cases, I ended up asking about the consolidations because maps and signs were not quite updated yet..causing me additional confusion. The locals story (to the extent I understood it) was that the DPJ was consolidating the towns for political reasons . That is, they'd take several local towns and merge them...into a town that was controlled by the DPJ thus the local officials and  chambers of commerce were effectively purged of non-DPJ people. I got an earfull of this from a convenience store owner in Washinomiya who was quite upset that Kuki, and not the ancient shrine town was the city that was now on the map.

Keep in mind again that I'm NOT fluent, proficient or even amusingly awkward in the language. I can get by as a tourist and describe symptoms to a doctor if needed. Lord knows I've heard commentary on US politics from English speaking countries that indicates a serious lack of understanding of issues AND THEY SPEAK THE LANGUAGE so take this  survey of two people, one of whom seemed...bitter...with a grain of salt.

Note too that neither explanation is mutually exclusive of the other either.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 06:29 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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