Bleak Scenes

Abandoned places, lesser-known attractions, and assorted oddities

Ghost Neighbourhood

Part I - The East Side

In early 2016 I learned of a residential area in southern Kanagawa Prefecture that has been abandoned since the turn of the Century. Apparently it was cleared to make way for a planned redevelopment, but the project was subsequently cancelled, and the buildings have been standing empty ever since.

There were dozens of buildings scattered across several wooded hillsides on the edge of a Japanese suburb. As usual in Japan, most of the buildings were totally unsecured, with doors unlocked or even wide open. I made four separate visits over several weeks to explore and photograph the ruins as best I could. Even so, the short winter days did not give me enough time to photograph everything.

The neighbourhood did not have any proper roads, just lanes which were too narrow for cars, let alone trucks. Motorcycles and scooters were the only options for motorized transport. The lack of road access presumably lowered property values, and was perhaps a factor in the decision to redevelop the area.

A large number of motorcycles and scooters had been abandoned around the neighbourhood. I can't imagine the residents leaving their motor vehicles behind just because they had to move house, so I can only assume that these were old, already disused vehicles. Some of them may also have been dumped illegally after the neighbourhood was cleared out.

Apart from a single apartment building, the buildings were all houses. I didn't see anything that looked like a shop. The architecture was typical of a Japanese suburb, with a mixture of flimsy, old-fashioned shacks, and larger, more modern houses. I wondered how many years the newer houses were occupied for before being abandoned. Some of the older buildings had already started to fall down, and even some of the newer ones had collapsing floors, so I had to watch my step.

Some of the houses were almost empty, but as often happens in Japan, a lot of the residents didn't think that many of their possessions were worth taking with them. Furniture, electronic equipment, toys, books, trophies, and numerous other domestic items had been left behind. One house even had an enormous number of school uniforms scattered around the floors of multiple rooms. The neighbourhood was like a poorly maintained museum of 20th Century Japanese domesticity.

I saw numerous calendars on the walls, the newest of which were for 1999. I saw others for 1992, 1993, and 1994. Perhaps the neighbourhood had been in decline for some years, and was partially abandoned before it was cleared out around 1999.