Class dismissed: the ghost schools of Yokoze and Hanno, Saitama

I’ve never been a Japanese school-child, nor have I ever attended school in the early 20th century, yet I feel nostalgic for old-fashioned Japanese schoolhouses. This may have started while watching movies like The Rickshaw Man 無法松の一生 (1958) or Carmen Comes Home カルメン故郷に帰る (1951).

Scenes from: The Rickshaw Man and Carmen Comes Home

My love was cemented when I encountered an old wooden school building while hiking in the Saitama hills near western Tokyo. In addition to mountain temples and shrines, there are at least three historic school houses in this region, which dot the villages along the Seibu Chichibu Line 西武秩父線. These former schools are located in the Yokoze 横瀬町 and Hanno 飯能市 sections of Saitama.

1. 旧南川小学校 Former Minamikawa Elementary School (1937) (closed 1993)

This former schoolhouse is located near Nishi-Agano station 西吾野駅 (map).

2. 旧北川小学校 Former Kitagawa Elementary School (1921) (closed 1993)

This is a 37-minute walk north of Nishi-Agano station 西吾野駅 (map).  Photo source (link)

3. Ashigakubo Elementary school あしがくぼ笑楽校(旧芦ヶ久保小学校) (date unknown) (closed 2008)

This is an easy 8-minute walk from Ashigakubo Station 芦ヶ久保駅 (map). Photo source: (link).


  • 木造校舎 wooden schoolhouse
  • 廃校 closed-down school
  • 校舎 schoolhouse, school building

Tokyo architecture map:

The three schools are indicated with beige icons on the west side of the map.

Hiking map:


Hiking in the Saitama hills:

More about the film “The Rickshaw Man“:

Information about the schools:

Other old & demolished buildings in Tokyo:



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