domingo, 6 de febrero de 2011

Nichitsu 2. Elementary school in a Ghost Town

At the dead-end of a blast-hewn road snaking up through the canyons of North-East Saitama, imprisoned by sheer moss-rocked walls looming overhead like rotting Gothic colonnades, the Nichitsu mine ghost town lies in wait, wreathed in a low mist and perennially dusk-lit by the overhanging crags. It hums with a crippling weight of nostalgia, of enfolded memories playing out again and again in its boarded up buildings, of invisible ghosts standing guard at the mine entrance, looking out of cracked windows, walking their habitual paths to and from and back again.

I’ve been here before. 14 months ago I came with Mike and Jason on our first haikyo road trip, this our last stop on the second day after taking in the Mt. Asama volcano museum and the remnants of Kappa Pia.
To see it again, in the same season with the same people, the roads frosted over, the air hoary with the mountains’ chill, to see those same empty places that we’d gone in and out of before, imagining the wraith-like echoes of ourselves climbing through windows and ducking in and out of doorways, was a little unsettling. And also familiar.

 We came back this time to seek out the Doctor’s office, fabled on the web and in print resources as the last resting place of a pickled brain in a jar, operating equipment, and all manner of medical gear. We’d wanted to see it a year ago, but got so bogged down in the first batch of buildings we came to we couldn’t go any further before night and exhaustion set in. The desire remained though, and drove us to return.

Avalanches have torn the back off the building.
 This time we rolled the car through the whole town until we reached the road’s dead-end at a fenced up tunnel. Then we started in on the first batch of buildings, what turned out to be a Lower School and Dormitory.
I’ll post about Nichitsu in 3 parts, the second being the Town and Environs, the third the Doctor’s office, making 4 parts total including the post I made last year.
Into the school, as ever we all took separate routes, with me heading for the back.

 We could get in from the back where avalanches had torn the thin wooden building apart. Once inside the footing was unsteady and bowed in places- at one point my foot went through the floorboards giving me a huge shock.

Staircase, once boarded up. The phone on the left actually had a dial tone, which was bizarre as nothing else had any power, and all the doors and windows were nailed shut.
I moved through the place mostly alone, normally in silence but for the occasional creak or distant call of one of the others, making a discovery.

Mah Jong game

Curled behind the hall was a kitchen, with bottles of whiskey and tubs of oil set on the table, alongside a rusty saw, school-boy caps, and other haikyo paraphernalia. In the corner was a black-board, and Mike and Jason
added their marks to it, alongside those of countless other explorers.

schoolboy caps

student artwork

At the top of the steps, at the end of the corridor, was a window out onto a walkway leading from the main Lower School over to other conjoining buildings, reminiscent of a complex series of tree-houses linked together. The door to the walkway was nailed fast so we climbed out of the second floor window and stepped out onto it.

This story is from Michael John Grists read more here

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