By Kyle Buck
In its hayday, the Matsuo mine was a beacon of progress. The miners and their families lived in the comforts of an innovative town. 15,000 residents enjoyed the luxuries of central heating, flushing toilets and garbage chutes. It truly was a paradise above the clouds! But after the sulfur stopped flowing, the town was left without a purpose or population. Now, looming in the shadow of Mt. Iwaki, the decaying ruins lie nearly forgotten.
Matsuo mine was built on the side of Mt. Hachimantai in 1914 to mine copper and iron. At its peak, the mine employed 1,500 people. Families were welcome to live here and there was even a school. It was quite prosperous for a time. But, as mining these metals became less profitable, they switched to sulfur mining in the 1960’s. Even this wasn’t enough to save the mine. The town was abandoned in 1971, leaving the 11 buildings to become one of the creepiest ghost towns in Japan.
In the clear blue sky, even with a lovely blanket of snow, the mine still leaves a grate scar on the mountain. In the summer you will be treated to a very different view; the town is often shrouded in a veil of mist. If you want to see the town without a blanket of fog, go in the winter and bring a pair of snowshoes.
Regardless of when you go, the rotting interior will be quite haunting.
I can not stress enough that if you choose to explore the ruins for yourself, you must exercise extreme caution. However, there is a lovely park nearby that I do recommend exploring!
Finally, if you ever find yourself in ruins such as these, please exercise extreme caution! I do not recommend wandering into abandoned buildings or around hazardous materials.
I do, however, recommend checking out my photo spheres of the area!