Izu Road Trip

It was time for another weekend of adventure. Namely, getting up at 4.30am, travelling for hours deep into the mountainous landscapes of Izu … to finally meet up with my fellow explorers around 9am. I’d missed out on the first day of Mike Grist’s road trip, but I was free and able to join the second day of exploration around Izu, provided I got up crazily early.

The idea of Haikyo as a ‘fun’ activity still takes a bit of getting used to for me. I go for the fear more than anything else, which usually mutates into paranoia and (combined with the right soundtrack) takes me to a dark place I often wish I hadn’t gone to. But this trip was plain fun. Mike Grist, JC & Canadian Mike were great company to have on a pretty extensive journey around Izu. The first place we headed to was a Haikyo I’d previously been searching for online, days before. Finding addresses/maps for ruins is always frustrating business … so imagine my reaction after failing to find it, I see the elusive building completely by accident, on my train journey there.

A seminar house is a kind of a summer school for University students. Draw what conclusions you may from an educational institution such as this becoming a ruin … I didn’t spare it much thought as we drove back up the coast to find it. After getting lost on a nearby mountain for some time we found the entrance and headed inside.

It was a big place, with many rooms to explore … the first floor had the crumbling dining area and kitchen, with the classrooms and the tatami floored guest rooms on the upper levels. Most guest rooms had enjoyed some cheap, chu-hi and cigarette fueled parties … as witnessed by the leftover trash and a mystery human turd on one of the sofas. Nice. I could’ve spent much longer exploring there, but everyone had finished their tour of the building as I was on the second floor. I am officially the slowest Haikyoist around.

Back on the road we had a long drive ahead of us before reaching the next destination, an abandoned mining town way up in northern Izu. Hours of mountainous roads, some cheap kombini food, arguments about the Star Trek movie and numerous post-rock albums later we arrived at the site.

We could see from the entrance yard the site was semi-live … so we were prepared to run into somebody at some point. It was one of several mines in the area, this one (Seigoshi) was a former gold mine thought to be abandoned around 1987. There were a number of buildings to explore scattered around the mountainside. A fair amount of treacherous clambering was involved to get around, particularly at the building with the abandoned mine cart.

We were in danger of all taking too many of the same shots so I fought through some undergrowth to the hardest to reach building. This place was full of heavy-duty machinery; things seemed to be left here as they would on any normal working day. The work board for monitoring and lubricating the equipment was still hanging, with all the names for the last day erased.

We went back to the main building last and this proved to be the most interesting. Mysterious looking store rooms, boxes labelled ‘TNT’ and even a computer room awaited us after we each found our way over the fence.

Faced with such curiosities it’s in my nature to look through as much as possible. There were a lot of work documents lying around that I couldn’t make head-nor-tail of, empty photo albums and outside, the entrance to the actual mine itself. JC managed to open the only room properly sealed inside, the computer room …which successfully freaked us out as the computer was not only still operational but beeping menacingly, as if someone might return any second. That was enough to send us scurrying; time to get back out on the road and hit our last destination.

I’d seen numerous posts about Izu Sports World before, seeing it with my own eyes I was blown away at the sheer size and scale of the ruin. This is definitely one place all explorers should see before it finally gets demolished. To its detriment though the place has seriously been graffitied to fuck. The newly added Taro Aso stencil looked cool, but the majority of it was an eyesore and took away the ruin atmosphere.

I didn’t know exactly how much there was to see here until it was almost time to go. I managed to see most of the main buildings … the Sports World accommodation, then only a quick survey of the water slides at the far end of the park. It wasn’t a long-standing ambition of mine to explore a women’s changing room, but I did that too just for the crack. If I had a bit more experience I would’ve realised the advantage of capturing the ruin during the sunset … but Mike did a great job for me this time.

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