After presenting some really spectacular locations over the last couple of months (and thanks to the surprising success of my *Worst of Germany 2013* article), it’s about time to get some real urbex disasters out of the way – quantity rather than quality!
The first item on my list was not really a disaster, it was more of a roadside attraction not really worth its own article. I was strolling through a nice little coastal town with the usual array of canals, when out of nowhere I saw this abandoned boat right next to the street. There must be thousands of abandoned boats all over Japan, most of them made of wood and rotting away, not even worth taking a photo of, but this one intrigued me for some reason; and that reason probably was the Japan Pro Bass Tournatment Association sticker on the side…
A week later I went to the mountains to have a look at the Minoh / Minoo Cable Car. While the upper station was on the back of a hotel and therefore inaccessible, the lower station was… pretty much dead, too. Even in February there was little more left to see than some concrete steps and the partly overgrown track. BOOOOORING!
Even worse was the demolished Ropeway Station I saw in Wakayama City. Or didn’t see, as it was demolished. The lower part was completely gone, the upper part had a few remains, like a slab of concrete on top of a hill and some small square foundations on a slope. What a waste of time!
In May, after a *disastrous Golden Week*, I went to Oita prefecture on Kyushu and stayed the night in Oita city – in the morning I fully realized that the JR station was in the process of being renovated, making part of it look as if it was abandoned. Nothing special, just a few snapshots.
A week later I made a stop in Onomichi on my way home from the rabbit island *Okunoshima*. Onomichi Castle has no historical relevance as it was built in 1964 as a tourist spot – and closed in 1992 due to lack of interest. (Even the official city guide recommends a castle three islands down the Shimanami Kaido, a road connecting Honshu and Shikoku with a set of bridges.) In the two decades since then the surrounding garden has been completely overgrown, but it is said that the castle was welded shut anyway – but it looks kind of cool, especially from the distance.
Just hours later I laid eyes on one of the strangest construction in all of Japan, a country with plenty strange constructions: the Uzushio Tourist Building. Little is known about it – some say it was a small hotel, others that it was a tourist restaurant; maybe it was both over time. Now it is partly burned out and a deathtrap, used by locals to collect recyclable waste. Since time is not recyclable I guess the joke was on me.
The next two flops I had to go to Germany for. First I spent rainy 30 minutes at the Munitionsdepot Dachsenhausen (Ammunitions Depot Dachsenhausen) and then a couple of days later another 5 minutes near the equally rainy Haus Hundseck, an abandoned hotel. While the ammunitions depot was mostly demolished and just in general a miserable place, the Haus Hundseck could have been an interesting exploration… if it wouldn’t have been for the hundreds of people who gathered in the middle of nowhere for some sporting event. My chance of entering the Bates Motel like construction without being seen? Absolutely zero! (BTW: Haus Hundseck has been mostly demolished now as I found out when I tried to give it another chance this summer…)
In October I revisited the *Tuberculosis Hospital for Children* with my dear friend *Michael Gakuran* – and since we had some time at the end of the day we rushed a revisit to my first abandoned hotel ever, the *One Dragon Hotel*. I only took a couple of crappy photos, but I also finally did a walking tour there – hence the video at the end of this article.
Next flop stop: an abandoned company retreat in the Rokko Mountains, the Concept Rokko Lodge – those vacation villas were quite popular during the 80s real estate bubble, now hundreds of them all over Japan are abandoned. Sadly I came a couple of months or weeks too late in this case. The Concept Rokko Lodge was gone and so was I after I took a dozen photos of the few remains.
In early November I went to Nagano prefecture for some fresh air. It was the furthest to the east I went in the past 12 years and for some reason I wasn’t really motivated to do urbex – instead I rather enjoyed the beautiful weather.
My first stop was *another abandoned North Korean school in Japan*, just half a year before *I actually went to North Korea myself*. I took some photos over and under fences, but the Chongryon School in Matsumoto was in a residential area. Dog walkers were passing by every other minute and the school looked completely vandalized – not worth risking a police operation…
A couple of hours later I was standing in front of the gigantic Shinshu Tourist Hotel on a gorgeous autumn afternoon. All staircases and roads to the hotel were either torn down or filled up with rubble – there might have been a way in, but why risking a broken leg and breathing moldy air when I could climb a mountain and breathe fresh air?
On the way to the top I came across the Joyama Miniropeway, a small ropeway station on a steep slope, abandoned in 1992 due to maintenance costs.
Right next to it I found the Japanese History Hall, probably a study center. The building complex was completely untouched and thoroughly protected from vandals as well as nature, so I didn’t even try to find a way in; would have been pointless anyway.
Three weeks later I met Michael again, this time in *Hokkaido for our epic long weekend trip*!
The first flop of the trip was the Showa-shinzan Tropical Plant Garden, a greenhouse once powered by the volcanic lava dome Showa-shinzan – now abandoned. The administration building with its fully stocked gift shop looked like it was protected by a force field, while the hothouse clearly showed signs of damage; probably by snowfalls and broken branches.
Next we saw a small sliding house near the *Sankei Hospital* that was damaged by the same events that turned the clinic into one of the spookiest places I’ve ever been to.
On the next morning we visited a place that I marked down as the Sapporo Art Village, but it looked more like an abandoned research facility. Whatever it was, it was inaccessible.
Also inaccessible was the Sapporo National Sanatorium, a huge closed hospital. Yes, closed. Closed and secured. By tight construction site fences several meters high. In the back I was able to take a few photos of tightly locked huts across the fence, but it was getting dark and not worth the risk, especially since the site looked like it was visited by people on a regular basis.
In 1987 Advantest, the famous Japanese manufacturer of semiconductor testing equipment, built a research facility near Sapporo – now the Advantest research facility is abandoned. All the ground floor windows, doors and shuttered were sealed tight, but the first floor saw some damage, so I guess mold will sooner or later take over and make this building another case for a demolition unit.
And that’s it for this week – lots of places, barely any good stories. But stay tuned, more world-class abandoned places will follow soon!
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