The Izu Peninsula is one of my favorite areas in Japan and that is where the Small Pox Isolation Ward (東伊豆町隔離病舎) was. In an atmosphere similar to that of the TV series Lost, we went between two mountains in a lush forest next to the ocean to visit this old crumbling haikyo. The birds were singing, we could hear the distant sound of the seashore echoing on the mountains and feel the freshness of nature. The sight of this very odd long wooden building in this middle of nowhere didn’t even come as a surprise at this point. This somehow completely felt expected.
This wooden shack was once an isolation center. Starting from 1958, Japanese people affected by smallpox were sent to this sanatorium far away from the world to avoid spreading the disease further. They were dying there, quietly, but not alone at least. The disease was incurable at the time.
It was exciting to explore the bowels of this wooden beast and discover each and every room. There were only beds of straw, wobbly windows, sinks and some small trinkets. Unlike other hospitals, there was nothing hidden or shocking about this place. But wasn’t it very haunted by the dead people’s spirits? I asked my friend who can see ghosts and yes, it was. She also mentioned that they are all happy; they already knew they would have to leave the world of the living. Their treatment at the sanatorium was a nice one, they had a peaceful ending and now they can continue to roam around in this beautiful place.
We walked back in the fresh leaves. A beautiful day in a small corner of paradise with a melancholic haikyo. With the thoughts that people must have died happily here, we left with a smile.
The place was officially closed in 1982.
- 1958 – 1982
- Nippon No Haikyo #92