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  The Haikyo of Living Precariously - Taro Mine (Entered Aug. 13, 2009)     Great Escapes...  

When pursuing a hobby, there usually comes a time when you either let it fade away, to be replaced by other things, or you begin to take it more seriously. With a dwindling supply of haikyos left in the Kanto area, MJG and I headed up to Morioka in Iwate prefecture, a journey that required lugging our gear onto the shinkansen (bullet train), renting a car, and booking a night in a nearby business hotel, all in the name of haikyo. Iwate is the the Mecca of haikyo, boasting the 2nd, 3rd and 4th best haikyos in northern Japan (the number 1 haikyo being located in Tochigi).

mine taro iwate outside

The first stop on our itinerary was Taro Mine, ranked #3, and a three hour drive from Morioka. Unlike most haikyos it was easy to find, and access was relatively simple.

mine taro iwate main hall

Actually the top three haikyos in northern Japan are all mines, prompting me to wonder if the author/editor of ニッポンの廃墟 (Japan's haikyo) was a biased, abandoned-mine lover. However it turns out I needn't have worried. Though I'm not sure if I'd rank it at number 3, it was still a great location.

mine taro iwate blocks

While setting up shots on the platform shown below, I suddenly heard a rustling between those funny blocks below. My first thought of course was that we'd been discovered by some security guard, but it quickly resolved itself into an animal of some sort, a large one. I'd called MJG over by this time and we both agreed that it was a wild boar as it was snuffing around making pig like sounds. As it got closer though I realized that it was a kamoshika, (Japanese serow) a goat like antelope. Funny thing is, I only discovered the existence of these animals a few weeks ago when I went to a nature photography exhibit and saw a picture of one for the first time.
Anyway his ears and nose must've been turned off because even though we were talking in almost normal voices, it kept coming closer. Of course as soon as we tried to change from our wide angle lenses to get a better shot, it suddenly became aware of us. We stared at each other for about 10 seconds before it suddenly turned around and ran away.

mine taro iwate second floor

Looking up to the very top floor I could see a little control room. Only thing was, the stairs and ramps leading up to it were almost completely rusted away, making access extremely dangerous. I decided to go for it though, and gingerly made my way up an old metal staircase, then across a flimsy metal grid supported only by rust and 30 meters of open air. I kept thinking to myself that it was a stupid risk to take for a couple of photographs, but another voice was saying that if I didn't do it I'd be kicking myself later.

mine taro iwate control panel

Anyway as I'm writing this you can surmise that I survived to blog again another day.

mine taro iwate top floor looking down

The mine had quite a few buildings scattered around, but the main draw was the mining complex shown above. MJG and I both agreed that we were tired of exploring the little house and shack haikyos that are as common as weeds, so we left them alone. The only exception was an auditorium/meeting hall below that warranted a closer look.

mine taro iwate auditorium

And without further ado we headed off to our next location (another three hours away), to the 2nd best haikyo in Northern Japan, another (surprise) mine. However when we got there we discovered it had already been demolished.... Disapointing of course, but our second day more than made up for it (stay tuned).
Anyway Taro, you've been upgraded to number 2. Congratulations!



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