I had to drive past the Aokigahara forest, take a mountain road then turn right in a little rocky path going up. I always rent simple cars and try my best to treat them gently. But sometimes, the haikyo trips really require a 4×4. I had to stop a few times on the way to remove the big rocks that has fallen to avoid breaking the car.
After a few kilometers through this forest path, I didn’t think I would arrive anywhere but at a dead-end. Fortunately a village appeared. A few houses, old fields, everything wide opened. A few old cars sat on the side of the road, wheel-less. I didn’t see the school at first but I eventually found it, quietly standing, surrounded by trees. It was really a sweet location. There was only silence and all sign of life seemed so far away.
In front, there was a statue of Ninomiya Sontoku, a philosopher and economist from the Edo Period. He was not a student but was known to study constantly while going up the mountains to work.
Then we entered the old shack, or maybe should I say the time capsule. Built in 1873, the school was filled with nice wood smells. Old photos on the walls, the tables and chairs still well aligned, looking towards the black board. Everything was tidy, clean, ready for the students to get back to work. Only the spider webs and the thick layer of dust reminded us that it was not break time and there were no students in the playground.
The school was abandoned in 1974.
- 1873 – 1974