My Fight’s Not With You, It’s With Gravity

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Yubari, Japan is worth more than a one-day visit. If you have more than a long weekend to spend on Hokkaido, at least a week. A couple of days is needed to notice the immense decay of this former coal and mining town. Yubari is a two-and-a-half hour train ride from Sapporo. My last post about Yubari focused on a former clinic. A short walk from the clinic lies Daihoji (大法寺) or Great Dharma Temple.

Daihoji lies atop a hill behind a few active snack bars,  but mostly ruins wrecks of buildings. This is what greets you:temple12 Two guardians are frozen in permanent surveillance. The guard to the left suffers from a severed hand. His hand lies in the grass near the other guard.temple9temple2   Further left, flora swallows up a staircase. Only locals would know what lies at the end of this path, as it is impossible to pass through now. Here is what it looks like as I try to advance through the brush. It gets thicker as you advance.temple11 After my failed attempt to go climb the stairs, I check out the small shrine beside what appears the main hall.temple4 Inside is a real treat! Buddhas and Bodhisattvas await your arrival. The door was locked, so I wasn’t able to enter but there were gaps in the door that allowed me to get this photo:temple7

Because of so much to see in very little time, I didn’t put much effort to get into the main temple. I did get a picture of the building that shows its disuse and boarded up windows to discourage trespassers. temple8

Besides all the neglected buildings, the stillness of Yubari was the most noticeable. It felt like the calmness after a natural disaster. There is an emotional weight that is palpable when exploring a town on its last legs. Yubari is an example of an unnatural disaster, though.  Unlike a town that is leveled by a tsunami, tt’s destruction has been long slow decline.

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