Abandoned accommodations are the biggest group of deserted places in Japan. Hotels, love hotels, ryokan, youth hostels. There must be hundreds of them all over the country – some of them are absolutely amazing, others are the worst moldy, vandalized dumps you can imagine. My first indoor abandoned place I ever explored was a hotel, the *One Dragon Hotel* in the south of Osaka – one of those vandalized dumps, but I didn’t care, because when you start urban exploration, EVERY place is super exciting. After a while though all of them start to look the same, and it takes exceptional examples like the *Hachijo Royal Hotel* or the *Wakayama Beach Hotel* (still only on Abandoned Kansai!) to remind you that some of them are actually pretty amazing. Back in 2011 though I couldn’t even imagine that world-class places like that existed in Japan!
At that point in time, less than two years after I picked up urban exploration as a hobby, I was tired of deserted accommodations… and standing in the backyard parking lot of the Jingoro Hotel, contemplating whether or not I should enter the rather big hotel all by myself after I already crossed two other places off my list that day. On the one hand I was tired, it was afternoon already, and I had to go inside without company – on the other hand: it was right in front of me… and there were some arcade machines in the lobby. Back then I had barely ever seen abandoned arcade machines, so I was really curious. I walked down the staircase to the semi-basement ground floor, the door to the kitchen open wide enough for me to get inside. And I instantly regretted that move as the typical “abandoned Japanese hotel smell” hit me. It’s hard to describe, but if you ever smelled it, you won’t forget it. This very special mix of rotting tatami and moldy wallpaper… Nothing that makes you wanna puke, but it smells nasty and you know that you don’t want to be exposed to it for hours… or even minutes. Since I was already inside the hotel, I had a look around and hoped that the smell wouldn’t be that bad throughout the whole exploration.
As three and a half years have passed since I last saw the Jingoro Hotel, my memories of that exploration are rather fragmented. I remember that it was a nightmare to take photos of the arcade machines in the lobby (Namco’s Final Lap and Jaleco’s Gran Prix Star) as everybody passing by outside was able to look inside through the huge windows, basically ground to ceiling. I also remember that parts of that floor suffered severely from arson (adding a whole new layer to the smell, lucky me!) while other parts looked like on the day the hotel was closed. On the upper floors the hallways and rooms were littered with airgun pellets, but the biggest surprise to me were the amazing shared baths, of course gender separated – back then I hadn’t seen anything like that, especially since both bathing areas featured outdoor bathtubs offering stunning views at the mountain and sea surrounding.
Back down on the main floor though I almost suffered a heart attack. I was hiding from a group of Japanese who were taking a photo outside of the hotel with the beautiful landscape as the background, all facing the hotel except for the photographer. The process took a while and when I was about to relax again, I looked to the left, where all of a sudden this huge western dude wearing a black trench coat appeared out of nowhere. My pulse went from “resting” to “leaving a high speed corkscrew rollercoaster” in the fraction of a second, and for a crippling moment I felt paralyzed – that’s when I realized that I was standing next to a huge mirror covering the whole wall! (And of course then I also remembered seeing the mirror before, reminding myself that it was there so I would not get the shock of my life… obviously I failed.)
Overall the Jingoro Hotel was an average exploration. Some vandalism, some decay, some nice areas, some nasty smells, some positive surprises, some negative surprises. I’ve been to worse places, but also to many that were a lot more interesting – like I said, it’s been three and a half years since I explored the Jingoro Hotel without mentioning it anywhere on Abandoned Kansai, so obviously I wasn’t in a hurry to write about it. Nevertheless I hope you enjoyed the little stories and some of the photos. In the end the package turned out to be much more interesting than I expected… just like the exploration itself.
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