During our drives around the countryside on our recent trip to Hokkaido, I noticed a fairly large number of abandoned houses. I love them for their photographic opportunities, and because I find them to be quite intriguing.
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 125mm — 1/90 sec, f/8, ISO 320 — map & image data — nearby photos
I wonder who built the house? Who lived there? Were kids raised there? (How did they like it, and where are they now?) Why did someone leave it? What's happened to it since? Who owns it now, and where are they?
Mostly, I wonder about who might have lived in it first, when it was new. How wonderfully peaceful it must have been, and being new, just plain old wonderful. (The windows look to be of single-pane glass, so perhaps some of the wonderfulness wore off during the long, cold winters this area gets.)
I look at the decorative woodwork above the door (that you can see in the large version), and see that one of the diamond shapes is partially broken. Who broke it? Was it broken while people were still living there? Who built the decorative woodwork, carefully crafting a simple accent that lends a measured flourish to the dignified simpleness of the house?
I can see from the way the electricity meter is installed on the house (on the outside wall of the entryway) that the house must have been built before electricity was available in this area (about 8km from the center of the relatively small town of Kitafurano — 北富良野). I wonder when both those events happened, and how exciting it must have felt for those living there to get electricity.
Oh, how I'd love to rummage through what's left of the house now, to see traces of who had lived there, and to see how the house was constructed. It was set a fair distance from the road, so I couldn't get very close. (It's not like there was anyone around to complain if I looked around, but it wouldn't have been right.)
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm — 1/200 sec, f/8, ISO 320 — map & image data — nearby photos
Most roads we saw have some highly-visible marker or another to indicate the edge of the road, most likely for the snow plows. The most common were the arrows above the road, as in the picture above, but the arrows are bright red and white. In the picture above, all but the furthest are still wrapped in plastic, likely having been only recently installed.
By the way, the mountain peak behind the house is Mt. Furano, six miles away. At 1,912 m (6,272 feet) in elevation, it towers almost a mile above the house. The peak above the roadway is Mr. Biei, about 8 miles away, with an elevation 140m higher than Mt. Furano. These are among the highest mountains on Hokkaido, and part of the same group with the highest, the 2,290 m (7,514 ft) Mt. Asahi, 20 miles to the north. (These are all small by comparison to Mt. Fuji's 3,776 m — 12,387 feet.)