The 2018 Netflix series ‘Dark Tourist‘ featured New Zealand journalist David Farrier visiting eight different countries (including Japan) on a mission to visit all manner of places relating to humans suffering in some sort of way whether it be victims of crime, tragic events or natural disasters. Of course, this kind of morbid traversing is nothing new, and people have been visiting these places for many decades but this TV show did help promote the idea of such tourism.
Having visited some famous dark historical sights in the likes of Poland, Germany, Australia, England and Cambodia (to name a few), I have to admit that I am slightly fascinated by such tourism. Japan has a fair number of places historically associated with death and tragedy, and Tokyo Fox has collated them into a series. Each volume will show a mix of relatively unknown places alongside the far more famous (or infamous in some cases!) ones.
1. The abandoned battleship-like island.
Gunkanjima @ Takashimamachi, Nagasaki – The UNESCO island once had the worlds highest population density with 5300 residents living there. It was developed at the end of the 19th century with one half for the mine and the other half for residential space, a school, restaurants, shops, a swimming pool, a shrine and a hospital. However, the mine was closed in 1974 and the residents had to abandon Gunkanjima. It inspired Silva`s lair in `Skyfall` (2012) but was actually filmed in the studios. More details here
2. The museum that will gross many out.
Meguro Parasitological Museum @ 4-1-1 Shimomeguro. Meguro-ku – Quite possibly the only museum in the world devoted to human and animal parasites. Not one for the fainthearted but supposedly a popular “date” destination for young couples. Maybe one of them shows their partner the 7.9m long tapeworm and then gets to comfort them as they shriek! More details here
3. The lost world ruins of a stone quarry.
Ota Yabuzuka Ishikiriba @ Yabuzukacho, Ota, Gunma-ken – From early on in the 20th century this quarry produced the porous Yabuzuka stone which was known as being easy to cut and was used as a cheap foundation stone in buildings. Production continued until after WWII and when it did cease it was just left abandoned for decades until the Ota City Tourism Association website posted about it as part of a hiking course. More details here
4. The site of thousands and thousands of executions.
Suzugamori Execution Grounds @ 2-7-3 Minamioi, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo – Some 150,000 anti-government conspirators and Christians were killed here via crucifixion, decapitation and burning at the stake between 1651 and 1871. It was built outside the old entrance gates of Edo to avoid polluting the city, and is actually located close to family-friendly places like Shinagawa Aquarium and a few parks.
5. The virtually abandoned station just over the border from Tokyo.
Kokudō Staion @ Tsurumi-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa-ken – This station has incredibly been unstaffed since March 1971 and has boarded-up shops and outdated signs from an era that time has forgotten. More details here
Click here to read ‘Dark Tourist (Japan Special) Vol. 01’
Click here to read ‘Dark Tourist (Japan Special) Vol. 02’
Click here to read ‘Dark Tourist (Japan Special) Vol. 03′
Click here to read ‘Hell On Wheels – My Metropolis Magazine Article’