Posted on May 15th, 2013 126 comments
Of course, I’m referring to the homepage for the Aiseikai Hospital in Saitama prefecture, a small facility mostly specializing in ob-gyn work. (Clicking on that link may or may not trigger security blocks on your PC. Viewer beware. Totally worth it, though.)
Featuring MIDI music, a wealth of nonsensical imagery alongside their office hours and photo tours, and a vivid, psychedelic design straight out of 1998, Aiseikai’s page has been notorious among Japanese net users for years now, in part because it’s remained doggedly impervious to change for over 16 years. However, sad news trekked across the net today: The hospital chief’s son reported on Twitter that his dad intends to close the site within the next two months, triggering a firestorm of nostalgia on 2ch and other forums.
Aiseikai’s site has often been cited by Western Web designers as a classic example of Japan’s zeal for garish, cluttered, eye-destroying websites, despite being the culture that gave us finely-crafted paintings, Zen gardens, and an art style that emphasizes saying the most with the least number of strokes. It’s true that a lot of Japan’s web-dom is still stuck in 2005, sticking with Flash and tables and designs optimized for gara-kei feature phones. (Uniqlo is an oft-cited exception.)
Time, however, apparently waits for no ghost website, even if an entire nation’s worth of nerds adore it for nostalgia’s sake. I fear that he’ll just replace it with a boring old WordPress setup and it’ll look just like every other listless, yawn-inducing website. It’s the passing of an era.