The Restaurant Kent, on Japanese haikyo blogs mostly known as the Good Omen Garden, is one of the staples of urban exploration in Japan. Located on quite a long country road connecting Osaka with Miyazu (home of the famous sandbar Amanohashidate, one of Japan’s three scenic views) the Restaurant Kent was one of the most popular local haikyo when I started doing urban exploration three years ago. Nowadays it lost quite a bit of its popularity, probably because it was photographed to death over the years – or maybe because there are a couple of signs announcing camera surveillance… which I totally respect if it’s true.
In this case the claim was complete bullshit, which annoys the heck out of me as it just cost me time and nerves. The signs looked rather new, so maybe they were put up before the local city administration set up the cameras (government involvement, even on the lowest level, is always a bad thing since it usually means serious business – private companies might hire some slackers, but you don’t want to mess with bureaucrats, especially in a country like Japan…), but when I visited the Restaurant Kent in March of 2011 there were no cameras or other forms of security; a topic I usually leave out, but if somebody lies to me blatantly I have to set the record straight!
Sadly there is not much else to report about the Restaurant Kent, since nobody seems to know a lot of facts about the place. I don’t even know if it was named after the county of Kent in South East England – or after the hugely popular cigarette brand “Kent”, which famously used carcinogenic blue asbestos in their filters from 1952 till 1956 (I guess at least British American Tobacco made cigarettes healthier after all…). The restaurant area itself seemed to be quite small, but neat. Previous explorers set up some tableware in front of a chair with armrests, but other than that there was not much to see.
The Good Omen Garden seemed to be much bigger – one of those festivity locations Japan so desperately needs when you want to be loud and / or with some friends. My buddy Dan and I found several party rooms of various sizes (Western Style and Japanese style, i.e. either carpet floor and tables or tatami floor and furniture that is long gone now…) equipped with all kinds of electronics including laser disc karaoke machines, beamers, microphones (not for karaoke as they were installed to the ceiling…) and mountings for camera and / or additional lighting. One room even featured a disco ball, although it was quite severely damaged – and so was the fake wedding cake one floor down outside. At the first look the Good Omen Garden didn’t seem that big, but then it turned out that there was a second building behind the first one, connected by a kitchen on the upper floor. There were more rooms, including some guest rooms for overnight stays and the usual array of baths for men and women.
My favorite item though wasn’t in the building, it was outside in the backyard – a wooden electronic organ, beyond repair thanks to years of abuse from vandals and weather; nevertheless an unusual and strangely beautiful sight.
Since the Kent Restaurant / Good Omen Garden was along a busy road, but not within a city, town or even village, there were almost always cars parked outside. But nobody had the intention to bother us, I guess the camera warning signs outside worked. When Dan and I were about to leave though, a pickup-truck with a small crane parked next to the building. We “escaped” through the front entrance while two or three men entered the building through the restaurant. On official order or to loot? We’ll never find out. Dan and I were kind of in a hurry anyway, since on the way to the Kent Restaurant we spotted a location I’ve never seen anywhere else before. But that’s a story for another time. Probably Christmas time…