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Archive for the ‘Abandoned’ Category

Themed parks were one of the outdoor entertainment trends of the 1980s / 1990s in Japan. “They are called theme parks!”, you might say now, but don’ you worry, I know what I am writing about – I really mean “themed parks”. So, what’s the difference? Well, theme parks are those big amusement parks with tons of high tech rides, loosely connected by a common theme – like Disney, Universal Studios or roller coasters. Themed parks on the other hand are focusing on a certain topic, not so much on the rides, which usually are rather low tech – they consist of huge scenic parks with picnic areas, bike rentals, small attractions like merry-go-rounds, go-kart tracks and slides as well as tons of informational / educational facilities like museums, exhibitions, artisan stations and the sale of products made on location, like butter or bread.
Sadly there is little to nothing known about the Japanese Agriculture Museum – except for that one tag line above the real name on a now mostly overgrown sign next to the cheesy looking entrance; darn, I have seen fake playground castles that looked better than that on public ground back home in Germany! The park is surprisingly little covered by Japanese explorers, probably because overall it’s not very spectacular; especially the shots taken from outside or near the entrance, dating back as far as 2007 on blogs with miscellaneous content. Next to the cheap looking entrance with an even cheaper looker ticket booth (700 Yen for adults, 400 for children; opening hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except on Mondays, rainy days and from November till April) *Mike* and I found a green house… and further down the path were the rather well-known bird peddle boats you can even see on GoogleMaps; white swans, black swans and pink flamingos in rather faded colors. Huge, strong spider webs with arachnids as big as the palm of your hands slowed down our progress even in this early stage and our general disappointment didn’t disappear when we realize that there was a huge stretch of land past the peddle boats with nothing on it – the park had been demolished, probably years prior to our visit, that’s why those other blogs only showed the entrance, the greenhouse and the swans. Or so we thought. Nevertheless I insisted to go further, deeper into the park… and after a couple of minutes we found more. A small river with a now rotten wooden bridge to the left, a grove of fruit trees with ladder looking wooden contraptions to the right – and in front of us? The remains of the Garden Restaurant, a decaying eatery more tent than actual building, the brick print wallpaper peeling off. Not that bad after all, though the spiders and their webs everywhere kept making moving around a bit tricky. Upon entering the restaurant I had to remove a spider web as it was covering most of the door frame, but I made sure our mosquito catching friend left alive – only to find the same frame mostly covered again when coming back an hour later to shoot the video walkthrough. In case you wonder why I didn’t fully enter the room: blocked again by the same friggin spider! Behind the Garden Restaurant we found the usual array of minor attractions you’d expect to find at a themed park, some kind of trampoline and a slide on a slope, both overgrown now.
Overall the Japanese Agriculture Museum wasn’t a great exploration, but a nice way to spend a couple of hours outside on a sunny morning. I wish there would have been more left to see and to take photos of, but sometimes you gotta roll with the punches and play the cards that you are dealt. No regrets – though exploring similar themed parks like the *Tenkaen* and the *Shikoku New Zealand Village* was a lot more fun!

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Yeah, I know. Two weeks ago I wrote about an *abandoned hospital*, last week I wrote about an *abandoned crematorium* – and now another abandoned hospital again? Bit much about pain and death, eh? Well, I guess it’s Halloween week, so it’s about time for another story about horrible Japanese doctors… and I still had an abandoned hospital on hold so dull, that I can easily stray and rant again without taking anything away from the location’s (non-existing) glory…

Japanese Doctors Suck! (Part 3)

I am a huge fan of A Clockwork Orange. Well, depending on my mood. It’s not the kind of film you pop-in randomly to have a good time. But when in the right mood, it’s kind of a perfect movie; with one of the best original scores ever written. Anyway, one sequence that stuck with me and probably most people who watched it, is the Ludovico Technique, where (spoiler alert!) the main character Alex has his eyes held open while watching violent movies, listening to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and having medicine dripped into his eyes to condition him against his own violent behavior – a sequence that most likely set the development of eye surgery back for decades, because, let’s be honest, if you ever saw it, you won’t want to have eye surgery. Ever!
Wearing glasses was natural to me for all my life. I got my first pair before I started to remember things, probably when I was three or four years old. They were part of my body, a life without them was unimaginable to me – especially after watching A Clockwork Orange for the first time as a teenager. (I think by now you can guess where this is heading, so you might wanna skip to the next subheading if you have a weak heart and a strong imagination!)
In late 2012 I finally decided to get rid of my glasses after more than 30 years. Living in Japan it became quite a hassle to replace them every other year, and surgery could actually save money in the long run. Big mistake! As you know I wasn’t a big fan of the idea in the first place, but even less so after I found out that LASIK (for 350.000 Yen, at one point 4500 USD / 3600 EUR – currently about 30% less thanks to Dishonest Abe and his vicious circle) wouldn’t work for me and the only alternative was ICL (implantable collamer lens, basically an in-eye contact lens) for a whopping 730.000 Yen; but a bird kept whispering into my ear that it would be great thing to do. I should have known better as that little bird was what we call in German a Seuchenvogel! (Literally “bird of pandemic diseases”, describing a person who means nothing but trouble and brings bad luck to others.) Since I don’t lead a lavish lifestyle I was like “What the heck, it’s only money…” Big mistake! I grew up with computers and if learned one thing in my life it was “Never change a running system!” (And of course “Save often, save early!”, but that’s not an option in life…) I should have listened to my gut feeling, instead I changed the running system. Well, I allowed the running system to be changed by Japanese doctors…
At first everything went fine. The clinic claimed to be the most experienced in Japan, the staff was super nice, everything seemed great and exactly what to expect when you spend that amount of money on a single bill. I did a couple of very sci-fi-ish tests and exams, they ordered the ICLs to my very specific specifications and a couple of weeks later I went in for surgery. Though quite reminiscent of the famous A Clockwork Orange sequence, the fascinating and extremely interesting procedure was executed with almost no pain – my eyesight improved massively in comparison to before, but it wasn’t as good as with glasses. Not a surprise, only a few hours after surgery like that. Bad news came with the first checkup the next day. While my eyesight on both eyes got better, their chief of medical staff told me that the ICL in the left eye could cause problems down the road as it was too close to the lens of my eye. A one percent chance it would have to be replaced, nothing to worry about. And I actually didn’t worry, though my right eye was way better than the left at that point. “Period of adjustment”, I thought. Big mistake!
The next day I felt like the vision of my right eye had dropped a bit, but the regular checkup had a different result – according the examination my view was better than ever. Although I was quite irritated that the left eye all of a sudden was the leading eye with much better sight, I didn’t worry too much. 48 hours after a surgery like that things can still improve massively, right? Well, I guess theoretically yes, but not in my case. After three days of decent view (not as good as with glasses, but good enough to see and read everything without major problems) the left eyesight dropped gradually to a point where it was pretty much useless for both near and far – and the right eyes was decent at best. And by decent I mean having to up the font size to be able to read text on a screen. Luckily the one week checkup was close, so I still didn’t worry much. Period of adjustment…
During the checkup after one week it turned out that there was a problem with one of the lenses. They didn’t know for sure, but the doctor on the next day would; 50% chance though that I would need corrective surgery. Well, I didn’t worry much, whatever would get the problem fixed was fine with me. (And that’s such a Japanese reaction…) So I came back the next day for an unplanned check – and it turned out that the clinic might have chosen the wrong ICL size, causing the collamer lenses in my eyes to rotate. Very rare case, of course, but there were two ways to fix it. One was corrective surgery with a small incision, correcting the angle of the lens to match up my astigmatism. The other was to replace both lenses with bigger ones. Since those lenses are made to order and it can take up to 2 months to get them, I chose Option 1 to get the problem fixed right away. But unlike the first (pain free) surgery, the second one wasn’t a good experience, not even a decent one. During the first one I was blinded by a light, by my bad natural eyesight and a constant stream of water, and fascinated / distracted by the procedure – during the second one I could exactly see what was going on in the corner of my eyes: and it was a lot more painful! Really, really painful, despite anesthetics. But it was successful and my eyesight right after the surgery was better than before. Still not as good as with glasses, but almost as good as on the day after the initial surgery. Pleased I left the clinic with two new regular checkup dates, happy that the problem was fixed and not worried at all. Big mistake!
When I woke up the next morning my eyesight on both eyes was almost as bad as before the second operation – corrective surgery turned out to be pointless as the lenses started to rotate again. The doctor of the day (by then I had talked to five or six different ones throughout the various examinations and surgeries…) offered additional corrective surgery, which I declined – what’s the point when the eyesight goes bad within 24 hours? So he promised to get bigger replacement lenses as soon as possible – which meant 6 to 8 weeks since they are made to order in the States! Yay… A third round of surgery for the price of one. Could have done without it… (So if you have expensive health insurance and you are upset, because you pay so much and never use it – be glad! Be grateful for every single hour, every minute that you are of good health! Believe me, you don’t want to get your money’s worth from something like your health insurance!)
At that point I actually started to worry, because while my eyesight wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t good enough to enjoy the daily pleasures. Watching TV more or less turned into “listening TV”. Reading a book was impossible and enjoying travelling was out of the question. For 6 to 8 weeks! (Hence no urbex in 2013 until March… Writing articles for Abandoned Kansai was possible though, thanks to font size 18 and some photo sets I selected months prior.) What pissed me off about that situation almost more than the fact itself, was the reaction of the few Japanese people I told the story. “You shouldn’t get upset and wait and see how it turns out.” First of all – I didn’t get upset and actually thought that I was a pretty good sport up to that point; waiting for hours, coming in additional times, going through the pain and anxiety of additional surgery, … And second: I wish I would have been able to wait and see – instead I had to wait without being able to see (properly) for several weeks! Thanks to variable font sizes I was able to work, but my precious spare time was basically rendered useless for quite a while… At least the clinic paid for glasses (!) to lessen the restrictions, but those took a week to make, too – and the lenses kept rotating, so every couple of days I removed one of the eyeglass lenses as my sight without it was actually better… until the sight was so bad, that the lens improved my eyesight again. Nevertheless I did one urbex day trip during that time, which included the *Nakagawa Brick Factory* – where I couldn’t see any details, totally relying on the autofocus and guessing the correct brightness. Yes, I was definitely massively visually handicapped during that exploration! If you still like the photo set, I guess nothing can beat the combination of dedication, talent and pure luck. :)
A few weeks later the lenses arrived from the States and a third round of surgery was planned. The problem with those implantable collamer lenses is, that they are made to stay in the eye. They come rolled (folded?), the surgeon makes a tiny cut to the eye, inserts the lens, unfolds it, puts it into position – done, next one. 10 or 15 minutes per eye. Removing those lenses though is a bit like getting a model ship out of a bottle… without breaking the bottle, of course! Already anxious due to my bad experience during the second surgery (the correctional one) I wasn’t expecting a smooth ride, so when the surgeon asked if I had any last questions / requests before he started, I asked him to refrain from playing Beethoven during the procedure – of course I was the only one in the room who got that joke… and so it began! Years prior my boss (not a doctor!) “diagnosed” an airsoft injury as a sprained ankle – it turned out to be a *fractured ankle and a torn ligament*, and when I first put weight on it again after a day in bed I almost passed out. Imagine that kind of piercing pain not 1.5 meters away from your brain, but a few centimeters away – not lasting a few seconds, but on and off for more than an hour. All while you are fully conscious witnessing somebody operating on your eyes through what might best be described as a rather translucent milk glass pane. They say that giving birth is the worst pain in the world, but I’d like to hear the opinion of somebody who gave birth and had eye surgery with again not really working anesthetics – and please remember, my procedure didn’t end with holding my own newborn baby in my arms! Now, two and a half years later I remember two things vividly – me slightly bouncing in that chair due to uncontrollable spasms caused by pain towards the end of the procedure… and eternal gratitude that they didn’t play Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, parts of which I still consider the most beautiful piece of music ever written.
(The new lenses fit well, everything healed perfectly and I am enjoying very good eyesight without the limitations of glasses ever since – in this case the journey definitely was NOT its own reward…)

The Hospital Exploration

When I presented an exterior shot of the Tochigi Hospital as the Photo of the Day on Facebook (make sure to Like and Turn On Notifications to not miss exclusive content!) a couple of weeks ago, people seemed to be impressed by its rather intact façade – interpreting it as a sign for the superior respect Japanese have for abandoned buildings. Which is not entirely true in general… and especially in this case, because the Tochigi Hospital was not much more than an empty shell. At first I thought somebody did a really good job cleaning out this place, leaving behind only a few items. Then I realized, and later confirmed in the comments sections of Japanese blogs, that the hospital was never finished. It would have been impossible to remove all the flooring, wallpapers and fixtures the way it looks now – and if not impossible, it would have been cheaper to demolish the whole thing. I don’t know to which degree the building was finished, but I am pretty sure that it never had an elevator, wallpapers (maybe some tiling?) or a proper parking lot, now a wild sea of green in front of the hospital. The “remaining” objects in the building most likely were dumped there or brought by temporary squatters. The most common items, by the way, were spray cans – so much for the respect people showed this place. There was just little there to vandalize in the first place…
Since I don’t mind construction ruins, I actually enjoyed exploring the Tochigi Hospital – and as far as concrete shells go, this was one of the more interesting ones, mainly due to its unusual exterior, but also thanks to some interesting design choices inside, causing intriguing shadows to be cast even on a terribly humid, overcast day without direct sunlight.

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Burning people has a very, very long tradition of about 20000 years – luckily most of them were already dead when it happened to them…
Little known fact: Japan currently has the highest rate of cremation in the world (99.9%), after practicing it for about 1400 years; minus 2 years when it was illegal. At a time when burning dead bodies basically disappeared in Europe, as it was fought by the early Christians, it became increasingly popular in Asia due to the rise of Buddhism. In 700 AD the famous monk Dosho died, three years later Empress Jito followed. Dosho apparently was the first person ever in Japan to be cremated at his own request, while Jito was the first (ex-)ruler to be cremated, setting a trend that lasted almost 1000 years. During the Heian period (794-1185) cremation became closely associated with Buddhism and their teachings that everything is impermanent and that the fire has cleansing and dispersing effects. Nevertheless it wasn’t until the Kamakura period (1185-1333) that cremation became the standard for the general populace, not just the country’s clergy and nobility. In the centuries to come, Confucianism became more and more influential in Japan. Their scholars considered cremation unnatural and disrespectful to the dead, and so in 1654 Emperor Gokomyo became the first influential aristocrat to be buried in almost a millennium. During the Meiji Restauration (starting in 1868) cremation was first officially banned (in 1873), then unbanned (in 1875), and finally, in a weird twist of fate, actively promoted by the government (from 1897 on) – when it became law that everybody dying from a communicable disease HAD to be cremated, once again citing the cleansing effects of fire… And so cremation became the standard thing to do in Japan, its rate rising from 40% in the 1890s to 50% in the 1930s to more than 90% in 1980. Nowadays virtually every human body dying in Japan gets cremated (99.9%), the exceptions probably being some hardcore Christians and Confucians.

Sadly I wasn’t able to find out a lot about the abandoned crematorium I explored barely a week ago. Heck, two weeks ago I didn’t even know it existed as my urbex buddy *Mike* was the one who found it and added it to our itinerary of my first dedicated Kanto road trip. I think it was opened in 1964 and closed in 2005, but I am not 100% sure – not even 99.9% sure…
What I know for sure, is that exploring an abandoned crematorium is something different, even on a bright and sunny day. The mostly wooden complex was one of the smallest abandoned places I ever visited, yet it took me two hours to shoot – and that didn’t even include the locked and mostly empty part I first saw when I walked up to the building on a surprisingly busy forest road. The already crumbling chimney in the back was connected to overgrown brick and metal machinery, so I headed past the abandoned jeep to the main room – a white wooden structure with a marble clad cremation furnace, its door open, a massive gurney still standing in the middle of the room. On the left a small door leading to the back room, where the furnace was actually located – a big metal box, with heavy bricks on top of a mechanism to hold the furnace door in the other room open. Interestingly enough the furnace wasn’t directly connected to the chimney and its machinery as you can see in the photos and especially in the video. I guess it would be interesting to look up the construction of 1960s cremation furnaces for more details, because what I saw didn’t look much like what I read about modern ones. I am not even sure what the thing was powered by – by the gasoline tank looking container inside the back room or by the gas bottle outside. The whole setup looked interesting for sure, and with the constantly changing light on an early afternoon, documenting the place was surprisingly time-consuming and challenging. Sometimes it took just a minute to get quite different results with nearly identical camera settings.
Exploring the abandoned Japanese Crematorium was a really unusual experience. Not as spooky as the *Japanese Mental Hospital*, not as scary as the *Sankei Hospital*, and not as spectacular as the *Tokushima Countryside Clinic* – but with a unique atmosphere and amazing light; and just for the fact that it was an abandoned crematorium. How often do you get the opportunity to explore one of those?

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Abandoned hospitals are always exciting to explore – especially when they haven’t been ransacked by vandals and feature a lot of the original interior plus some really cool natural decay. Finding those places can be extremely difficult, but sometimes all you need is luck and good people skills in Japanese…

The abandoned Kanto Hospital wasn’t even on the itinerary my old urbex buddy *Michael Gakuran* and I had when we bumped into a bunch of young Japanese explorers at another location. Michael, whose smooth talking got us into the *Hiroshima New Zealand Farm* years ago, chatted with the youngsters for a while and then suggested a change of plans – our new friends had volunteered a location Michael knew existed, but I didn’t even have a clue about; but I enjoy deserted clinics as much as the next guy, and we still had a few hours of daylight left… usually enough even for good / big locations.

The “problem” with little known locations is, that there usually is also hardly anything known about their history – and though this one is still on GoogleMaps with its real name, you won’t find anything about it on the internet; not even pictures, as explorers made up fake names. Well, you won’t find anything except for its location, phone number and basic details. The kind of information you don’t want to share about a rare destination on a blog…
Based on information gathered while exploring, the Kanto Hospital was probably built and opened in the late 1960s. Judging by the calendars in the 4-storey building, it was closed in 2008, most likely in October; a calendar for the next year already lying around in the main office on the ground floor.

As you can see in the video walkthrough, the two upper floors of the clinic were not really that interesting (if you are curious about or irritated by the unusual background music: outside was a local festival going on – I recorded the tour on purpose during the performance as I thought it contributed to the creepiness of the place). A few items here and there, surprisingly empty patient rooms, a cleared out laboratory and a small library on the top floor. The second floor featured the hospital’s signature room, the surgery with its two massive adjustable operating lights. The rather dark and gloomy ground floor though was where we spent the most time as there was so much to see. A doctor’s office with a massive safe, a storage with countless X-rays and boxes with Konica Minolta medical film, several treatment rooms with all kinds of machines and items, an office with dozens of different brands of medicine (including a whole box of Kremezin, used to treat chronic renal failure), …

Overall the Kanto Hospital was a good exploration that benefited quite a bit from the unsteady weather and the surprising turn of events that day. My favorite parts were the eerily decayed staircase (only in the videos), the info posters on the walls and the fact that the only messiness came from previous urbexers going through the drawers – no BB bullets, no graffiti, no pointless destruction and chaos for the sake of it.

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„Whoah! Wooooah! Wohohohoho!” That was my initial oh so professional evaluation as an experienced urban explorer upon entering the Japanese Luxury Spa Hotel – and I knew it was right on the spot when my friend entering two minutes later reacted EXACTLY the same way, with the same… words…

There are thousands of spa hotels all over Japan, dozens, maybe hundreds of them abandoned. Most of them are rather similar – hot springs, tatami rooms, red carpet floors, nice shared baths (separated by gender). The Japanese Luxury Spa Hotel was quite different, very Western style – no hot spring, no tatami rooms, often tiled floors, real beds, private baths and almost a whole storey dedicated to typical spa treatments like chemical peelings and teeth whitening. Most of the rooms looked more like suites, including private kitchens, private bars or even extra rooms with medical equipment for all kinds of treatments; one actually featured two massive grey plastic one person sauna boxes – whenever you think you’ve seen it all…
While the hotel looked pretty rundown from the outside, the inside was still in good condition and furnished with impeccable taste. Whoever was in charge of the interior design spared neither trouble nor expenses – I’ve never seen that many beautiful carpets in Japan in my life, most doors had what looked like handcrafted mountings, most of the mirrors, lamps and a lot of other pieces of furniture were one of a kind; solid wood, of course, no veneer. A lot of walls were embellished with tapestries (topic: Dark Ages), some even framed and behind glass, like valuable paintings. A few rooms on the upper floors featured Balinese elements like ornamental metal lamps or the wooden sculpture of an archer – absolutely gorgeous items and a looter’s wet dream. Forget the medical equipment left behind… the basically mold free furnishings must have been worth a small fortune!
Sadly there is hardly anything known about the hotel’s history. It must have been closed about two or three years prior to my visit, but it is still listed as an active hotel on a couple of websites till this very day – and though there should be plenty of photos and other information out there on the internet, it is not. A small pot of coffee (three cups) was 1200 Yen, at least that’s what it said on a small ad sculpture, one of the few items identical in every room. Medical treatments apparently were up to 120000 Yen (currently pretty much exactly 1000 USD), but I can only speculate how much they charged for the rooms. Since the Japanese Luxury Spa Hotel is a rather little known location, vandalism was limited to a few rooms; opened windows probably caused more damage so far than active acts of destruction. Except… well, except for the kitchen area of the hotel’s biggest suite – there somebody defecated on the floor! Bunch of savages in this town…

According to a leaflet, this luxury accommodation once had a sister hotel just a few kilometers down the road. It’s also still visible on various online maps, but even at the time of my visit it had been gone already, so I guess the destiny of the Japanese Luxury Spa Hotel is sealed… if it’s still there as I write these lines…

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A festival village? What the heck is a festival village? To be honest, even 3.5 years after exploring it, I am still not sure!

A couple of years ago, the Shikoku Festival Village was one of the most popular abandoned places on Japan’s smallest and least populous main island; at least amongst Japanese explorers. Sadly, hardly any of them cared much about the location’s history – and the rest of the internet neither, given that it was apparently abandoned in 1999; three years after the first camera phone was sold in Japan and almost a decade before they achieved decent quality. And so I wasn’t able to find a single photo or video of the time the Shikoku Festival Village was still in business – and only little more information, though it is said to be yet another failed project of the Japanese asset price bubble, which means that the place was most likely built between 1986 and 1991. It consisted of two buildings, a dome shaped museum and a big multi-purpose building, connected by a huge parking lot that included a helipad and had two massive entrance gates on different height levels, given that the whole complex was located on a slope – yep, that sounds like the megalomaniac bubble economy…

I think it’s safe to say that the Shikoku Festival Village was carefully closed and shut tight when closed about one and a half decades ago, but vandals / airsoft players made sure to gain access as BB pellets all over the place indicated. The museum was still split in two parts by massive shutters all over the building. Offices, exhibition rooms (with both intact and shattered showcases) and a couple of bathrooms. On the ground floor I found a huge and still closed abandoned safe, a Pythagoras by SECOM. The main building across the parking lot was accessible on the ground floor and on the third floor – which turned out to be a great thing, because when I was about to leave, I realized that a car parked in front of the gate I entered… not really through… but rather by. Luckily not a security guy, but some random dude, most likely trying to kill some time away from his family. Nevertheless it would have been a hassle to exit with the fella watching through his driving mirror. The building itself was big enough to have an escalator, though I have to admit that I don’t remember much of it as I kinda rushed through since I was running out of time. On the ground floor I found some hover disc, flying saucers if you want to call them that – probably a lot of fun in the 1990s, especially with the large parking lot right in front of the building. The top floor seemed to be the amusement area with a bar or two, seating areas and more exhibition space. There also were several boxes filled with high quality prints of the last museum exhibition – expensive pottery. The quite vandalized middle floor offered more party space, though it didn’t look as if the building allowed for overnight stays, which probably contributed to the Shikoku Festival Village’s downfall, given that there were no bigger hotels in walking distance.
On a sunny day with friends I probably would have considered the Shikoku Festival Village somewhat of a dud – but the overcast, drizzly weather and the fact that I was exploring solo added quite a bit to this event space’s atmosphere. Especially the darker areas of the museum were spooky as hell. Too bad that the place’s history is still mostly shrouded and most likely will stay that way forever, but overall it was an interesting exploration. Oh, and of course I would have loved to take a ride on one of those hover discs, but they were probably beyond repair anyway after all those years of abandonment.

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I fell in love with this abandoned restaurant (and onsen) instantly when I first saw a photo of the building about two years ago. Sadly the interior didn’t live up to the expectations when I finally got there…

There is always a lot of construction going on in Japan. Most buildings are having a life expectancy of just 30 years, a lot of river beds are embattled with concrete, and mountain roads once following the natural formations of small streams and hills are rectified by tunnel shortcuts. The Japanese Restaurant & Onsen, apparently a luxury product of the 1980s bubble economy, was located on one of those river bends that were cut off by a new road with a tunnel. It looks like once all the traffic from and to the mountains had to pass by the gorgeous little complex – and then all of a sudden people were able to speed by a sign on a much bigger road; most likely the kiss of death for this beautiful relaxation oasis.
Sadly I wasn’t able to find much reliable information on this location – when it was built exactly, when it was abandoned, if it was just a rest house or if they had rooms to rent. The main complex with the restaurant was actually so overgrown that we were lucky to get there in winter; in summer it’s probably inaccessible without a machete. While the small complex looked amazing from the outside, the inside wasn’t able to match. A lot of rooms were empty or just had a few objects lying around – and it was moldy like hardly any place I’ve been to before. I’m sure the area gets quite a bit a snow in February / March, and being located directly next to a mountain river probably didn’t help either. The onsen building across the street was in much better condition, but neither a place I would want to stay for a whole. The interior was rather simplistic, but not without beauty – stone, bright wood, nice carpets. I definitely can imagine people having a luxury meal and then enjoying a good soak there, probably the best way to break up a long drive for one or one and a half hours!

Years of abandonment obviously didn’t do any good to this interesting, somewhat contorted complex – while it was a bit disappointing to explore, it still offered some great angles and objects, for example the huge stone lantern outside at the dried-out pond.

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