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Haikyo Exploration - The Coal Mining Ghost Town Yubari


In our ongoing haikyo series, we are visiting a fascinating ghost town - well, almost ghost town. Yubari used to have 120 000 inhabitants in the 1960s. Today there are less than 8000 souls left and the average age is 65. Yubari is a city in Hokkaido that flourished due to its coal mines, providing people with income and livelihood. After the coal mines closed down in the 1980s, the local government tried to make the city into a tourist destination. Nothing failed immediately, but everything eventually. The large coal mine themed amusement park closed in 2007. The film festival initially drew foreign stars (guess why the killing schoolgirl from Kill Bill is called "Go Go Yubari"?) but has seen its funding be cut. Soon all attempts to pump new life into the city were in vain. Today, Yubari is the only bankrupt city in Japan. It had to let go of half its employees and severely cut services. To some, like the city's young mayor Naomichi Suzuki, Yubari is foreshadowing what is going to happen to Japan, which is piling up debt and sees an ever-increasing average age and declining population. To us, Yubari was a large playground, a window into another time. Enjoy the video with Misa's poem.

I want to thank Michael Ortega for the musical inspiration. Please check him out here.

And special thanks to Richard Hendy, who has documented the city better than anybody else in the English language. Check out his blog here.