Thicket Creek Elementary School

(November 2014) Thicket Creek was an Elementary School first built in 1872 to serve the residents of a remote village in the Japanese Alps. The original building was destroyed in a fire in 1900 and construction of a new building was completed ten years later. Over the next fifty years or so, as populations in neighboring villages dwindled the school underwent several renovations to accommodate students from nearby schools that could no longer justify staying open. Thicket Creek ES finally closed its doors in the early 1980s for the exact same reason. The school has been sat empty since, gathering dust in its quiet mountainous surroundings.

My pal Michael Gakuran and I went to check it out earlier this month, on a crisp autumnal Monday morning. The weather was perfect and the low autumn sun made for some fantastic colours along with the falling leaves. Heres what we found at the school…






Many of the classrooms stood empty although there were a few bits tucked away in a couple of the rooms, including a Chinese abacus, a school lunch menu dated 昭和49年 (1974), a retro looking TV set, a national newspaper dated 昭和45年 (1970) and a table full of colour slides which were photographs taken at school events such as sports day…












As well as the colour slides above, there were drawers full of rolls of colour slide film used to teach both Japanese and world history, all of these were in near perfect condition…




Another interesting discovery were these black and white photos of teachers and pupils past, dressed in both traditional Japanese wear and formal Western wear. Some of these photos were dated as far back as 明治37年 (1904)







Almost every classroom had one of these Kaiser keyboards inside too…




The music room also had a nice collection of instruments and records packed away neatly in cabinets…






The real surprise however was the Science room which included a cupboard full of plastic body parts and an almost life sized human anatomical skeleton, which Michael very affectionately nicknamed Mr Innards!








Mr Innards insisted we stay for a short lecture on the human anatomy…



If you like these photos feel free to leave a comment below and share this page elsewhere (giving full credit). Thanks for stopping by today!

And don’t forget to check out my other haikyo photos here!

EDIT – Just in! Check out Michael Gakuran’s awesome write up from todays adventure here!

    Comments (8)

    8 Responses to “Thicket Creek Elementary School”

    1. If I were planning on retiring, I would make the council an offer and move in and turn it into a lovely house :-)

    2. […] *Extra!* View Ben’s account and his great photography here. […]

    3. Gakuranman says:

      Great writeup Ben! I really liked the way you zoomed in on Mr. Innards over a series of photos, and of course some of your great setups for photos. I learnt a thing or two on this trip in addition to having a great time!

    4. Harald says:

      I have again enjoyed your shots of this remote school. I wonder if there is any vandalism at all in Japan. It is amazing to see a building like this as it looked then – after decades. Thanks!

    5. Hafeez Ramli says:

      May I know what you do with those priceless prints and slides? Love your haikyo series!

      • Ben Beech says:

        Thanks for the comment Hafeez, I’m happy to hear you like the haikyo posts. Regarding the vintage photos and slides, I photographed them at the location and then left them exactly where I found them – I am absolutely against the idea of removing anything from the locations I photograph that are abandoned, I am there strictly to document what I find, not take anything away. And that’s partly why I don’t share locations, to ensure other people don’t steal anything…

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