In the countryside, north of Nagoya, you might find a little shack hidden in the back of a beautiful shrine. The Doctor’s Shack (S診療所) was a very quiet and old wooden clinic, with lovely surroundings and an enchanting stream of water running by. A dream place for a lovely day in the sun, feet in the water, and the cicadas – “semi” in Japanese – singing in the background.
Entering the house, it felt like it has almost never been touched, everything was so ancient. I felt like I was the first person to visit in the past 50 years. However, this is in reality one of the most famous abandoned clinic in Japan. There is a famous book in Japan about haikyo called Nippon no Haikyo, referencing 200 haikyo throughout Japan along with maps. For me, this clinic was one of the highlights of that book.
There was truly something mystical about this place. Maybe it was the wooden structure and its weakness, along with medical objects from a long gone era, or maybe it was because it was hidden in an idyllic jungle full of mysteries… and mosquitoes! The wood cracked from time to time and the old shack gave the impression of being completely forgotten but still alive.
The area everybody loved here can be seen at the reception, through a small window where the pharmacist was passing the drugs to its customers: an old apothecary, an old time pharmacist, which reminded me of the pre-war period described in Ghibli. We could imagine here a doctor with round glasses walking around, without a smile. He loved pulling out organs from patients for analysis. Then, in the evening, illuminated by the moon and a small oil lamp on his desk, he was creating his own medicine. Those products were not always exactly intended to cure the patient straight away, but rather to experiment and observe the effect. This image might seem harsh but it might even be sweeter than the actual truth. During World War II, the Japanese doctors were known to use patients and especially prisoners as guinea pigs. Sometimes cutting their organs alive, removing a lung, boiling their body, just to see how long they could survive. The infamous Unit 731 that the Japanese operated in China was famous for that but at this time they also had those experiments conducted in Japan too.
The only inhabitants of this clinic during my visit were a tribe of bloodthirsty mosquitoes. Surely, the spirit of the doctor might live in them.
- 1921 – ?
- Nippon No Haikyo #117