There are all kinds of abandoned places you can find in the middle of nowhere in Japan – hotels, mines, farms, factories, spas / water parks, restaurants, theme parks, even schools. A single apartment building on a slope below a countryside road? That’s rather unusual…
It was pretty much a year ago when I was heading to the mountains of the Kii Peninsula with a couple of friends. We were looking for a small abandoned church I will write about in two weeks, just in time for Christmas as it will be a perfect opportunity to write a couple of lines about Japan and Christianity. Walking along a mountain road soon afterwards I saw a rooftop down below while enjoying the beautiful landscape. My expectations were to see something like another rusty shack with a couple of gardening tools, so I was surprised to find a multi-storey apartment building that apparently hadn’t been used in a couple of years. It wasn’t in great condition, but good enough to risk a closer look.
The first few windows / doors were locked tightly, but we quickly found some open doors and broken windows. The apartments varied quite a bit in size and interior – some were very tiny, others big enough to house a family. Some were still fully furnished and ready to live in, others were more or less empty. Some felt quite homely, almost cozy, others were spooky as hell! In one of them I went from “almost heart attack” to “bursting laughter” in the fraction of a second. When I opened the door to the main room in one of the apartments, I saw a king-size bed with two… bodies… almost completely covered by the sheets. Luckily not dead bodies, but stuffed bodies – those of a big white teddy bear and a plush duck. Phew!
Most of the apartments were filled with rather random stuff, pretty much everything you can imagine – furniture, clothes, lamps, audio cassettes, mirrors, shoes, dolls. Just random everyday stuff from the 1980s and 1990s, I guess; too new to get me excited. Especially since I am not a big fan in general of abandoned private homes. The external staircase was pretty much a rusty mess, the brittle wood and questionable concrete slabs not exactly confidence-inducing – and the lack of an internal staircase made the whole building basically a hopeless case; I am sure nobody will ever move in there again. Since there also was a rundown abandoned hotel in walking distance, I assume that this countryside apartment building was home to some of the staff that didn’t want to drive up and down a rather steep mountain for half an hour to the next town, especially in winter.
Considering that it was an original find and a quick exploration taking less than an hour, the Remote Apartment Building was a pleasant surprise overall. The external staircase was actually kind of interesting, the plushy love couple quite memorable… and at least the building wasn’t mold infested (yet). Nothing I would rent a car for, but a nice, barely touched surprise between other explorations on the way.
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