Japan is well-known for its “haikyo” (abandoned buildings and structures). There are many websites, made by haikyo adventurers, devoted to the exploration and documentation of different haikyo sites.
Technically, many of these places still belong to someone so you are trespassing if you go to a haikyo. To be fair, it does make it all a bit more thrilling, but if you get caught, you have some explaining to do.
(Explaining could be, “I am foreign! I don’t understand these “do not enter” signs! How am I supposed to know these things?!”)
How do you go see haikyo without trespassing? Simply go to ones that are open for you to go to.
In recent years, Gunkanjima has gotten so famous that Nagasaki decided to make it a tourist attraction. Now you anyone can go on a tour of it!
“Battle-Ship Island Nagasaki Japan” by Flickr user: kntrty http://www.flickr.com/photos/kntrty/ – Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kntrty/3720075234/. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Gunkanjima HP, if you wanted to check it out, or book a tour: http://www.gunkanjima-concierge.com/en/
Gunkanjima is internationally famous, but today I will introduce some pretty obscure sights, and hopefully you can go check them out (and send me the link of your adventure afterwards).
OSARIZAWA MINE, Akita Prefecture
Japanese name: 尾去沢鉱山
By car- get off at the Kadzunohachimantai IC (鹿角八幡平IC) off of the Tohoku Expressway. It is one hour away from Hachimantai
By train- Take the Hanawa Line to Kadzuno Hanawa Station. It’s a 10 minute taxi/bus ride from there.
Admission: 1,000 yen for adults, JH/HS students 700 yen, ES students 500 yen
*you need at least 10 people to gather to do the outside haikyo course and you need to reserve ahead of time as well. You can tour the underground mines regardless of the amount of people there.
Not open during the winter (Mid-Nov. to March)
History：These mines were created by a Mitsubishi company family member in the Meiji Era. It was a functioning copper mine for 90 years before it was shut down.
INUSHIMA SMELTER, Okayama Prefecture
Japanese name: 犬島製錬所
Access: From Okayama Station take a bus that passes by Saidaiji and get off at Nishihoten, Walk 5 minutes to the ferry docks. Ferries to Naoshima Island depart here regularly
Admission: 2,060 yen for adults, under 15 is free
*this is both a remains of a smelter and an art gallery. You are paying for entrance to both these elements.
Not open Tuesdays during the winter (End of Nov. to March), and Wednesdays or Thursdays (Dec. to the end of Feb)
History：In 1909, the project to build got funded by local investors. It was only running for 10 years because it got crushed by a slump in copper prices. Now it is a place to enjoy architecture and artwork.
IKESHIMA, Nagasaki Prefecture
Japanese name: 池島
Access: From JR Nagasaki Station it is 80 minutes away by car to Seto Bay. Take a ferry bound to Ikeshima and ride for 30 minutes.
Admission: 2,600 yen for over 14 yrs old, 1,650 for under 14 yrs old
*make a reservation for a tour 3 days ahead of time. There is one tour in the morning and one in the afternoon. The tour is approx. 90 minutes.
Open: morning tour: 10:45 am at Ikeshima docks, afternoon tour: 14:15 at Ikeshima docks
History：This mine was closed down rather recently (2001) and was the last of its kind operating in Kyushu. It is an island, so is isolated and things have not changed much since it closed.
CHINDA POWER PLANT, Oita Prefecture
Japanese name: 沈堕発電所跡
some images of the site http://blowinthewind.net/haikyo/chinda/chinda.htm
Access: a 43 minute walk from Bungokiyokawa Station on the Hohihon Line.
History：These are the remains of the Chinda power plant, located near the Chinda Falls. It is now over-run by nature and there is almost nothing in the vicinity. Try and go when it is light out or you could end up lost in the dark.
SADOKINZAN, Niigata Prefecture
Japanese name: 佐渡金山
http://www.sado-kinzan.com/ *English site available
Access: You have to take a ferry out to get here. Ride the Jet Foil from the Niigata Port. It takes one hour. I think it might cost at least 2,960 yen to get out there.
History：This gold mine was started in 1601 and was functional until 1989. It boasts a 388 year mining history. Apparently Japanese people are trying to make the sight into a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
OLD SHIMEKOGYOSHO TATEKOYAGURA, Fukuoka Prefecture
Japanese name: 旧志免鉱業所竪坑櫓
Access: From Fukuoka Airport take the bus going towards Umieigyosho and get off at Higashikoendai 2 chome.
*It is free but is part of a park, there is a fence around the areas where they don’t want you to wander in.
History: Here are the remains of a pre-war air shaft for mines. There are not many of these kind of shafts left standing anymore. Its distinct shape has inspired people to make paper-cut out models of it. The area surrounding it has now become a park and in 2009 this building was recognized as an important cultural property and is now protected.
MIIKETANKO MANDAKO, Kumamoto Prefecture
Japanese name: 三池炭鉱万田坑跡
Access: From it is a 10 minute drive from JR Arao Station
Admission: 400 yen for adults, 300 yen for HS students, 200 yen for JH/Elementary school
Open: 9:30-17:00 (16:30 is last entry)
Closed: Mondays and New Years
History: This mine started up in 1902 and ran until 1951. This was part of the Miike Coal Mine, the largest coal mine in Japan. It was a symbol of national pride because it was so huge and deep. You can venture inside accompanied by a guide.
A lot of these are inconvenient to get to and are in Kyushu. But that shouldn’t stop you if you are up to the challenge!