A mentally ill farmer in China has built, by hand, a seven-story structure whose gait has been compared to the famous building in the Japanese anime “Howl’s Moving Castle.”
The man, Hu Guangzhou, insists that the building is for his brothers to move into when they come back—but they’ve been dead ten years, according to Qilu Evening News , a Shandong-based newspaper.
Local officials have remonstrated with Hu for years, but haven’t had the heart to tear it down, lest he “take extreme measures.”
Hu, 55, is a farmer in Linqu County, Shandong, an eastern province in China. He is childless and is described in Chinese media reports as having “a biased personality.”
Two of Hu’s brothers passed away over a decade ago, but he insists that they’re still alive, and will come back one day to live with him in the house he’s building. Village officials have attempted to explain that they’re dead, but he refuses to believe it—he also refuses to move into a nursing home.
It took him nearly five years to build the base of the home, and three years to add the storeys. His building materials were primarily clay and stone blocks he collected with a small wheelbarrow.
He makes repairs and strengthens the structures in his spare time.
After completing the second story, Hu slipped and fell from it, then caught a sickness which put him out of action for months. The Qilu Evening News article said that afterwards, “in a fit of pique,” he decided to keep adding stories and then seal the top.
Every three months he gets 1050 yuan ($159) in subsidies from the government, with which he sustains his modest existence—along with the complimentary steam buns he entitled to at the local bun store. In 2015, village officials requisitioned funds to give him 300 yuan to spend for the Chinese New Year.
Hu’s innovation has received a great deal of attention on the Chinese Internet, drawing at least two million views on Weibo, and sparking the delight and curiosity of news readers.
A sampling of comments by Internet users includes:
“Is this mental illness? This is the IQ of a master—normal people don’t get it.”
“Those who want to tear the building down better consider facing off against his certificate of mental illness and kitchen knife!”
“This is a real life version of Howl’s Moving Castle!”
“Why there is no one taking charge of this? What if it collapses and buries innocent neighbors?
“Those tofu-dreg engineers should feel humiliated seeing this,” said an internet user, in reference to the school buildings that collapsed after the Sichuan earthquake in 2008. “He’s been building this for this years with bricks and wood, and it hasn’t fell. But those concrete bridges designed by experts have already collapsed.”
It must be said, however, that Hu’s innovation has not yet withstood an earthquake.