‘The Lost World’: The new book explores the abandoned rural areas of Japan

(CNN) – Just saying the word “Japanese” can bring up images of manga, women’s restaurants and neon lights.

But for Dutch photographer Maan Limburg, Japan is a kind of countryside occupied by homeless.

His photographs of these places – from buildings abandoned after natural disasters to movie theaters covered with sealed lights – are featured in a book, “The Lost World,” published in May.

Japanese ghosts

Japan has one of the oldest populations in the world, with an average of 1,500 people over 100. As young people move to cities in search of work, it becomes more difficult. caring for rural areas.
This is not the only major force in the land of Japan. Events such as the earthquakes, disasters and the Fukushima nuclear disaster have killed many or left.

Enter the akiya event, or the ghost houses.

A 2014 government report was aired, saying that if things continue now, about 900 villages and towns around Japan will be “destroyed.”

03 body lost world japan

Limburg doesn’t have detached houses – there are some abandoned businesses like this DVD store.

The nature of Limburg / The Lost World

But free housing is not the cure for Japan’s climate. Although other countries with the elderly, such as Italy, offered or sold very few homes to foreigners, they often came with a visa or residence permit. But not Japanese houses.

As a result, it may be difficult to find people who want to live in and manage them, even if they do not speak Japanese or drive.

Limburg, which is based in Utrecht, was drawn to the unknown areas of Japan where many of these buildings are located. He and his partner spent months there, renting a car or truck and driving to places in the country not seen by tourists.

Searching for results such as calendars and newspapers can help Limburg see when a place has been abandoned.

Searching for results such as calendars and newspapers can help Limburg see when a place has been abandoned.

The nature of Limburg / The Lost World

Leaving the cities

Limburg said he was “in love” with rural Japan.

“Every village we went to, people were like, ‘What are you doing here? The nearest tourist area is 35 miles away. We can send you there. We can send you there. We can send you there. we can draw you if you want. ‘ “It’s nice to see this different side of Japan,” he said.

And when he started visiting small villages, there were no detached houses or abandoned houses. At one point, Limburg said, her son asked if they should stand up for each other.

One of the reasons Limburg was associated with the Japanese countryside was that it reminded him of his native Netherlands. Although both countries are notorious for cold and not always welcoming visitors, Limburg does not.

“When the Dutch see that you’re really interested, they’ll share it with you. That’s something I’ve really seen in Japan as true,” he said. “It’s one of the things I enjoy most about both countries. If you’re really interested in people, they can quickly share their lives with you,” he said.

But not all lands are the same, and this is evident in the types of isolated houses he saw.

In Hokkaido, Limburg explains, many people have the opportunity to lock up and secure time in their homes before moving. But in places like Fukushima, where people are moving fast, it’s not uncommon to find glassware set or TV sets attached.

One of his favorite pastimes is an old -fashioned theater. The bands, costumes and lights were always on, as if the actors were just relaxing and coming back every minute.

One of the smaller houses that got the most attention. Limburg saw the family photos on the wall and found himself thinking about what had happened to the people living here and why they had left.

“I think we will take care of the places with great respect,” he said.

Her favorite place is the “magical” northern island of Hokkaido.

“It’s hard and dark and weird,” said the photographer. “We thought we were in an Edward Hopper painting with no people.”

"When you start looking for isolated houses," Limburg, "they are everywhere."

“When you start looking for detached houses,” Limburg said, “they are everywhere.”

The nature of Limburg / The Lost World


In total, Limburg visited Japan about 10 times, starting in his youth.

Because he is free, he can stay for long periods of time, so he travels to Japan for three weeks. Many trips allowed him to see different parts of the country, and to meet and mingle with some of the people he met along the way.

“The Lost World” is more than just a comic book – it’s an homage to the land he loved and admired.

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