People seem to be fascinated by Japanese bathrooms. Not just the high-tech toilets (“Washlet”, a registered trademark by Toto) with heated seats, white noise speakers to drown out unpleasant sounds, and a water spray feature for genital and anal cleansing (don’t google “Washlet Syndrome”, I warned you!) – but the whole space station like plastic cabin unit bathrooms you find in pretty much every Japanese hotel and a lot of private homes. They tend to have the off-putting charm of a bad 1950s science fiction movie and come in 50 shades of beige, but they are also space-saving and easy to clean. Though it doesn’t really matter, because once you came to terms with your decision that your life will include a bathroom without a skylight or even a regular window, you died a little bit inside anyway… at least I did.
Since those bathrooms are EVERYWHERE in Japan and hard to avoid, I never thought much about them… until I explored that one deserted hotel a couple of years ago. The unique aspect of this one was, that it was abandoned during the completion of the interior. It was a huge tourist hotel, about 10 storeys tall, and almost every floor was in a different state of interior finish! The higher the floor I reached, the less finished it was – the lowest floor just needed some furniture and electronics, everything else was done: flooring, wallpapers, built-in wardrobes… and the bathroom. The floor above was missing parts of the wooden flooring and the bathroom door, the floor above that was missing the wallpapers and outside bathroom walls in addition, the floor above that the built-in shelves… and so on. The top floors of the hotel were still all concrete and used as storage for the interior fixings of the lower floors – dozens of brand-new toilets and bathtubs, countless wall and flooring elements… absolutely mind-blowing! Since installing such a space station bathroom is quite an endeavor, I was able to see various stages of assembly; from individual, still wrapped parts over finished plumbing to a fully integrated bathroom. And while I hated to climb ten flights of stairs, I consider this aspect of the hotel one of my favorite urbex experiences of all time – because it was so unexpected, because I learned something by looking at it in real life, because I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that somebody had to abandon a gigantic hotel mid-construction, leaving behind fixtures worth tens of thousands of USD… and it was still all there without any signs of theft or vandalism. (And unlike the regular plastic cabins you find in most hotels and a lot of homes, these ones were actually rather large tiled luxury versions with a separate room for the toilet – the standard design unites shower, mini-tub, sink and toilet on something like 5 to 8 cubic meters.)
A full exploration report of the whole hotel will follow in the future, but for now please enjoy this unique photo series about the different phases of assembling a Japanese unit bathroom – and ask yourself: Would you want to give up your bathroom for one of those units?
(*Like Abandoned Kansai on Facebook* if you don’t want to miss the latest articles and exclusive content – and subscribe to the *video channel on Youtube* to receive a message right after a new video is online…)