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Babakawa and Shima-uta Elementary Schools

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北海道せたな町 馬場川小学校・島歌小学校

Babakawa and Shima-uta are two small rural elementary schools in Setana-Cho, Hokkaido, Japan. At the time I lived there, Babakawa had nine students and Shima-uta had sixteen. After I left, the number of children in the area continued to drop.  Shima-uta closed in 2012, and Babakawa closed in 2018.

Babakawa Elementary School

On one side of the school is a small group of houses, and on the other side is a park. Other than that, it’s all farms and forests for several kilometers in every direction. Babakawa has a very interesting school building, one of my favorites.


Babakawa school building, seen from the parking lot.



View from the main entrance. This big open area is the school library and general activity space. From here, the classrooms are on the left. On the right are the teachers office and a hallway leading to the school gym.





Looking toward the front entrance from the opposite side of the open space. On the right is the door to the 3rd-4th grade classroom.



School lunch.



Looking toward the park from the school main entrance.


Tanabata decorations.





School sports festival (June 2009). The weather this year was cloudy, cold, and damp, but the rain held off long enough for them to finish, and even have a picnic lunch afterwards.



Picnic behind the school building after the sports festival.



Park next to the school. I don’t know why, but the weather always seemed to be cloudy and dark on the days when I brought my camera with me.



Some of the scenery near the school.


That’s it for Babakawa. Now let’s go to Shima-uta. I usually visited these schools twice a month. I would go to Setana Junior High in the morning, then either Babakawa or Shima-uta in the afternoon.

Shima-uta Elementary School

Shima-uta Elementary School is in a small fishing village on the coast. The village is sandwiched between mountains and high cliffs on one side, and the ocean on the other side.


Shima-uta Elementary School, seen from the top of a cliff. Probably the most spectacular setting for a school building that I’ve ever seen.


Athletic field and school main entrance.



Inside the main entrance.



School library, lunchroom, and general activity space.






In the lower right you can see part of the school athletic field, and on the left is the Sea of Japan.



Village of Shima-uta, seen from a hill near the school.



Downtown Shima-uta. This small village only has two or three streets, besides the main highway along the coast.



Mado-iwa (WIndow Rock), one of the village’s famous landmarks.


Along the coast going north from central Setana-cho, there are several small villages or groups of houses like Shima-uta, and at one time, each of them had its own elementary school. Most of the schools closed between the 1970s and 90s, and Baikatsu Elementary (the next one south from Shima-uta) closed in 2000. Shima-uta was the last of these small coastal schools to remain open, and now it’s closed too.

The school may be closed, but the scenery will always be here. Come and visit if you have a chance.





Written by hobara09

2019-08-14 at 4:48 pm