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the city that never was

They built a city.

But no one came.

Jump on a train heading east out of Osaka and in just over 30 minutes you'll come to Otsu, a city built 20 years ago at the southern end of Lake Biwa.

But when they finished building it, no one went to live there.

So now it stands deserted, inhabited only by the cold winds that blow in from Lake Biwa. Like a great sports stadium, Otsu has a capacity of 100,000 - but an attendance of zero.

Taxi drivers outside the station ponder what has become known as The Great Otsu Planning Fiasco.....

Trains stop at Otsu Station, but no one gets off....

or on....

It's a city of deserted streets....

....a city of unattended lemons....

Inset: lemons

.....a city of unimaginatively named buildings....

....of playgrounds not full of children....

....a place where electronics retail giant Yodobashi Camera opened a smaller-than-usual store to adequately cope with the lack of customers....

....a city with evidence of alien visitations. These mysterious Quorn Circles are of particular interest to scientists.

An Otsu noticeboard lists upcoming events that will be attended by no one.

Here's a photo of the annual Otsu Festival of Light in full swing....

An Otsu bus timetable clearly shows that if you arrive at this bus stop at 7.57, you're going to be in for a bit of a wait....

.....as for Sundays, best bring a sleeping bag and a good book....

In a country well known for its crowded urban areas, Otsu may come as a pleasant surprise. It may also leave you feeling a tad spooked.
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On Sunday, 23 March, 2008, Anonymous Vicky said:

That's a little- spooky.

There must have been a reason for it being deserted, eh?  

On Sunday, 23 March, 2008, Anonymous Neil Duckett said:

Tremendous post, brilliant humour indeed!  

On Sunday, 23 March, 2008, Blogger ratmammy said:

I'm guessing this is a joke post?  

On Sunday, 23 March, 2008, Blogger LetsJpn said:

Aw, c'mon. I've been to Otsu, and it was not too bad. Stayed in a very nice hotel towering over Lake Biwa. And isn't there a tour boat - like a paddlewheel boat - that's staffed with foreigners who put on a show?
And a mall. On the lakefront there's a shopping mall, with a cineplex.  

On Sunday, 23 March, 2008, Anonymous ThePenguin said:

Humour? Why can't you guys give him some credit for being able to sneak through the security cordons around the place which have been there ever since that mysterious object crashed into Lake Biwa?  

On Sunday, 23 March, 2008, Blogger Brian said:

Is there a NOVA there?  

On Sunday, 23 March, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said:

a "zenekon" paradise.

On Sunday, 23 March, 2008, Blogger Mike said:

How did you find out about this mythical city in which no one lives?  

On Sunday, 23 March, 2008, Blogger the englishman said:

I read about it in the Otsu Time Out magazine which no one reads because it doesn't exist.  

On Sunday, 23 March, 2008, Anonymous Scotty.VOR said:

Man those are cheap swings. Look at that...just pieces of 2x4 bolted to chains. Give them proper rubber seats for crying out loud, made from recycled sandals and onions.  

On Monday, 24 March, 2008, Blogger Munin said:

I've just spent a good hour reading and laughing. Hilarious blog. Keep at it.  

On Monday, 24 March, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said:

aahhh the 2x4 wood....like the houses made of 2x4....no one wants to ride the swings becasue they may break just a wee bit too easy...just the 2x4 construction!  

On Tuesday, 25 March, 2008, Blogger angkuguay said:

Now.... I wanna go visit that place! But before I spent a few thousands on plane tickets... tell me please, are the streets really that deserted or you photoshopped, waited for the right moment?  

On Wednesday, 26 March, 2008, Blogger tornados28 said:

Brian? Why is the taxi driver's name is Brian?  

On Thursday, 27 March, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said:

Live actual japanese version of
"I am legend" !??

Eeeeeee ... hairs on my back are standing.  

On Wednesday, 02 April, 2008, Anonymous Jamaipanese said:

creepy, but I love it! great post ^_^  

On Thursday, 03 April, 2008, Blogger josiah said:

wiki says there are 300,000+ people there...
nice humour tho ;)  

On Friday, 06 June, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said:

just read where Otsu has over 300,000people living there so guess that post was just to be funny  

On Friday, 11 December, 2009, Blogger El Globetrotter said:

If you look closely at the photo of the playground, and the third from the bottom, you can see a few cars parked...
(At the very right of the "Festival of light" photo, there's a person...)

On Tuesday, 29 December, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said:

I officially live in Otsu and I don't exist.  

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