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Archive for the ‘Abandoned’ Category

Welcome to yet another original find! This time we’ll go deep into the mountains to explore what turned out to be a large textile mill!

One of the best things in life, other than to crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women, is to explore a previously unknown abandoned place you found yourself without the help of others – something I take much pride in since my very first days of exploring, because let’s be honest: every shmuck can ask or even pay for coordinates and do the traveling involved, but finding and exploring a new place… that’s special!
A while ago I spotted a rather big rusty red roof amidst a thick forest. Not too far away were a couple of still inhabited houses and next to one of them I assumed was a now abandoned road that seemed to lead towards the roofed area. Unfortunately the area was rather blurry and of course no StreetView car had ever graced the area with its presence. But I guess almost a decade of “reading” GoogleMaps paid off again and the layout was exactly as expected – which didn’t make the exploration any easier though. The uphill road to the large corrugated iron construction had turned into an overgrown muddy mess over the decades… and the “building” itself still only sticked out on satellite photos because of the massive amount of ground it covered. At first sight the whole thing seemed to be some kind of storage facility. We found several numbered garage like bays, some empty, some filled with random stuff that could have been part of a factory, but also been owned by private people. Frustrated by the heat, humidity, overgrowth and inaccessibility I was ready to call it a day and move on, when my exploration buddy realized that the wall that we were standing next to was actually a corrugated iron door – it blended it perfectly. After years and years of not being opened the thing was rusty as heck, but fortunately unlocked.
Inside the “Mountain Textile Factory“ was in really bad condition. Whole walls were missing, the roof was leaking at countless spots and yet the whole thing was surprisingly gloomy on that rainy day. It looked like they just shut down everything and left, half of the machinery still stocked with material and a porn magazine in a drawer; yes, the good old Japanese urbex rule – no 80s location without a porn stash… Unfortunately it wasn’t only a rainy day, but also late in the day, so it was getting dark quickly.

Overall though I’m super happy with this exploration: It started out underwhelmingly, but turned into a lovely surprise, it was an original find, and one of the yarn bobbin photos is absolutely fantastic IMHO. A perfect addition to the *Japanese Garment Factory* exploration a while ago…

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Half-Abandoned Shrine

Hatsumode, the first shrine visit in a calendar year – another Abandoned Kansai tradition…

Up to 3.5 million visitors on three days some shrines can have. That’s a recipe for disaster! This year apparently plans were made to prolong the traditional year end winter break (yes, Japan has a traditional shutdown around New Year’s Day every year, even without a pandemic! Much to the dismay of millions of salarymen who have to spend time with their alienated families and equally as many housewives who can’t go luxury purse shopping for two or three days in a row… lucky are the few who are able to visit their parents in the middle of nowhere and feel like a child again for a couple of days), but of course those plans were scrapped quickly, because… Japan. It is dominated by the almighty Yen. Advertising everywhere, shopping opportunities everywhere. Only a money spending citizen is a good citizen!
I remember being in the middle of that millions of visitors per shrine hatsumode nightmare twice in my life – once when I met friends (who have several kids now, which means they moved on to the next phase of their predetermined life in Japan…) and once when my sister came to visit. Ever since then I prefer abandoned shrines, especially NOT at the beginning of winter.
Hence the Half-Abandoned Shrine in this edition of “Hatsumode on Abandoned Kansai”. This one I visited in autumn of 2019 with a Japanese buddy of mine. It’s located in the countryside, next to fields, a forest and a fishing pond. Upon arrival my buddy took on a conversation with two elderly hobby farmers. One of them started to guide us around and soon we ended up in front of a cage with four young wild boars – the boar piglets were clearly not happy about the situation they were in, and they would have been even less if they’d understood any of the conversation the farmer and my friend had; I understood only a little more, but it was enough – “nabe” and laughter… (Nabe is a Japanese hot pot dish, especially popular on cold nights!)

The farmer also told us that we weren’t the first people to look for the shrine, which apparently is popular amongst Osakan university students getting drunk there in summer, as it is widely considered a ghost spot – and when I look at the pathetic suits I have to deal with on a daily basis, I can imagine that getting drunk at a “ghost spot” in the countryside in their early 20s really is the most exciting thing they’ve ever done in their lives… Anyway, we moved deeper into the forest, along an annoyingly muddy path, and finally hit the shrine area, which indeed looked half-abandoned – decaying and falling apart, with a small abandoned hut; a stark contrast to the fresh cut flowers somebody left there recently. Fortunately the photos turned out to be much more interesting than the location really was – and since it was technically only half abandoned I could reveal the exact location… but then again, I’m not another one of those shitty guide books, so let’s move on to the next location – or look back at the *Shiga Shrine*, which I thought was much more interesting in every regard!
Happy, happy, happy 2021 everyone!

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Another year, another holiday season, another beautiful abandoned love hotel – this time probably my favorite one, the Japanese Castle Love Hotel. Merry XXX-mas!

2020 has been a spectacularly bad year for many of us… and the urbex scene was no exception. The dangers of the ever changing coronavirus situation kept a lot of people from exploring, while demolition crews did a surprisingly good job clinging to their jobs, resulting in the disappearance of quite a few famous locations. The Japanese Castle Love Hotel (JCLH) fortunately didn’t end up as a pile of rubble, but I wasn’t able to explore any abandoned love hotel for the first time in years, so for the 2020 edition of the Merry XXX-mas tradition I chose my favorite abandoned love hotel of all time, explored in 2018.
As I mentioned before, love hotels can often be found in clusters either in the center of big cities (Umeda / Namba in Osaka, for example) for easy access on foot or in the outskirts / between smaller cities for easy access by car. The Japanese Castle Love Hotel (guess why I named it that way…) was part of the latter category and more of a motel than a hotel. The surrounding love hotels, about half a dozen of them, had been abandoned years prior – one or two of them will make it to Abandoned Kansai sooner or later, the rest was already so rundown, moldy and vandalized that I didn’t even bothered taking photos. When I first went to that area years ago the JCLH was actually still active, so when I passed through again because of another location in 2018 I was surprised to see it abandoned. Well, pleasantly surprised, because it turned out to be accessible for most part, yet basically unvandalized at the same time, which is a really rare combination. There were animal droppings here and there, but no graffiti or signs of destruction. Quite the opposite, one or two rooms were actually bigger and nicer than my own friggin’ apartment!

Visible from afar and eye-catching thanks to its spectacular castle design, the JCLH, an original find at the time, was an exciting and at times spectacular exploration. Most rooms were in pristine condition and all of them had a quite Japanese design – tatami floors, beautiful wood carvings, traditional art elements. I don’t know anything about the hotel’s history (except that it must have been closed in 2016 or 2017), but I assume that it was opened in the 1970s – it didn’t make a super old impression, but it definitely wasn’t a modern, flashy place; no jacuzzi or even pools, no beds shaped like rockets, cars or sports venues, no ceiling mirrors or elaborate lighting system (like at last year’s *Minigolf Love Hotel*, which I actually explored a day after this one…). Just a clean classy location with large rooms oozing understatement.

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Sea Shell Museum

The abandoned Sea Shell Museum was on the top of my list of places to visit for quite a while – here is what I found when I finally made it there…

It’s always dangerous if you let your imagination fill the blanks of missing information as it tends to use the most positive outcome possible, while reality tends to do… the opposite – all you online daters out there know what I mean!
About three years ago I first saw the abandoned Sea Shell Museum on a Japanese blog and I was fascinated! There were only a handful of photos, but they looked amazing… and outside pictures of the building made it look gigantic, so I imagined it to be much like the *Takeshima Fantasy Museum*, an active sea shell museum in the outskirts of Nagoya – at first I even thought it was the exact same place as it was closed for a few years between 2010 and 2014.
Phew, was I wrong! Not only was the abandoned Sea Shell Museum in a different part of Japan (which I found out after about 1.5 years…), it was also much smaller and a lot less colorful (which I learned the hard way another 1.5 later – yes, it took me that long to find a reasonable way to explore that damn thing!). While the Takashima Fantasy Museum features a vast area of colorful and imaginative seal shell sculptures, the abandoned Sea Shell Museum only had a rather small display… which wasn’t that colorful. Both places have a museum part, which are about the same size, but make up for about 10% of the space at the Fantasy Museum and a whopping 90% of the space at the Sea Shell Museum. Objectively not bad at all, unique and super interesting actually, but not what I had dreamed up in my mind based on the photos I first saw. Expectations are the worst – never have them! They are barely ever surpassed, only mildly satisfying when fulfilled, and more often than not you set yourself up for disappointments…
Opened in 1973 and in business till the late 00s the now abandoned Sea Shell Museum was on the second and third floor of a rest stop by the sea, while the first floor was used as a restaurant and omiyage shop. Now the whole building is decaying rapidly, despite the lack of blatant vandalism – there is some, but surprisingly little, considering that the place isn’t exactly the secret anymore it was three years ago.

I was hoping for a Top 20 location, but the abandoned Sea Shell Museum would have a hard time to even make it on my Top 200 list. It was still a good location, but the whole exploration was rushed, the museum was much smaller and less artistic than expected… and the mix of dark corners, bright light coming in through a few openings, and reflective display surfaces made the whole place kinda hard to shoot. Overall the *abandoned sex museums I’ve visited* were much more interesting – and a lot of *abandoned schools* had similar items left behind. Add the time and effort (borderline hassle) involved in exploring this admittedly unusual museum, and I’m sure you’ll understand that I’m glad that I was able to finally cross it off my (relatively short) list of famous places to explore. A revisit is highly unlikely though, so please enjoy the following gallery.

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Game Boy Mailbox

Geeks, freaks, and nerds rejoice – I finally made it to the abandoned Game Boy Mailbox!

The abandoned Game Box Mailbox can be traced back to four years ago, when a Japanese angler was looking for a fishing spot in the mountains and instead found a supersized original Game Boy, once used as an advertising display in Japanese stores, converted into a mailbox. Unlike most non-urbexers (and some bad apples within the community) the guy actually cared and didn’t blurt out the location to the world – and so even some well-connected and respected Japanese explorers haven’t been to this little hidden gem. It took me a few years, too, but when I finally made it there on a beautiful autumn day I took pictures from pretty much every angle… because there was not much else to see or do nearby. Somebody put a regular mailbox into the strictly decorative plastic case (none of the buttons are or ever were functional – also the proportions were more than just slightly off!) and used it as such. Since the thing hasn’t been cleaned in quite a while and the nearby house also is in questionable condition it’s pretty safe to say that the Game Boy Mailbox really is abandoned – though there were indications that the house is still used occasionally, maybe as a weekend home.

For most people the Game Boy Mailbox is probably just a grey plastic case, but as a huge Nintendo fan I had the time of my life and took pictures of that thing from pretty much all possible angles. Sunshine, warm autumn day, bamboo grove in the background, autumn leaves surrounding, a remote mountain road – and a now rare piece of video game history. Everything came together perfectly! And if you like (arcade) games as much as I do, you might wanna check out my article about the abandoned *Arcade Machine Hotel*!

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Abandoned hotels can be a challenge as they tend to consist mostly of identical rooms – fortunately this one featured a somewhat interesting dining area and some really old vending machines…

The Old-fashioned Japanese Hotel looked like it was originally built in the 1960s and then expanded two or three times. A kinda charming maze of hallways with rooms in nearly pristine condition – nowadays I barely ever take photos inside of abandoned hotel rooms, but some of them were just too pretty to ignore! The highlights though were the dining area, where either some staff or previous visitors set up meals at several tables, and the three old, barely hanging vending machines for toiletries. I really love those old things!

Overall a nice little exploration for a nice little write-up. I hope to be able to go back to weekly articles soon, but it’s autumn in Japan now, 15 to 20 sunny degrees in a lot of areas, already winter in others, so I’m quite busy traveling these days; a real pleasure without the hordes of overseas tourists clogging up trains, hotels, and sightseeing spots – which are all still busy thanks to a rise in domestic tourism, but the atmosphere is just vastly different and much more enjoyable. Every once in a while I even throw in a more or less spontaneous exploration – more about those on the usual social media channels like *Facebook* or *Twitter*

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Aloha Water Park

Last week I published one of the dirtiest articles ever, this week we’ll scrub ourselves clean at the Aloha Water Park!

Abandoned water parks are amongst my favorite places to explore. Usually they are either outdoor fun parks with pools, wave pools, and more or less large water slides – or they are indoor facilities with hot springs and spa elements. The Aloha Water Park was one of the few places that offered outdoor fun for the kids and indoor relaxation for mom and dad – the latter gender-separated, of course, as always.
I knew about the Aloha Water Park for a while before I finally found it on GoogleMaps… and it took me several more month before the opportunity rose to explore it, but one thing I know for sure: It was definitely worth the wait!
The outdoor part consisted of a few bars and food stands, a relaxation area, several pools (some still with water in it) and a couple of slides – interestingly no grassy area, just stone and concrete everywhere. The indoor section was quite unusual as the main bath was basically a gigantic room consisting of two floors with lots of boulders and greenery on a slope and super large ceilings. The upper floor (with separate changing rooms, rest rooms, lockers, …) was for women, the lower floor for men – that way you could actually look down if you looked over the handrail and some brave or exhibitionist guy walked onto a couple of square meters that were not 100% out of sight, while men had close to 0% chance of becoming peeping Toms. Both areas were connected by an indoor escalator and alternatively a walkway across the outdoor part, accessible by flights of stairs and an elevator – the latter not working anymore and some closed shutters making the whole construction a dead end.

When I first found out about the Aloha Water Park I knew about the indoor section and the outdoor section, but I thought they were two different locations. So entering the large indoor onsen after exploring the beautifully decayed outdoor fun part was absolutely mind-blowing, because it was so unexpected. And figuring out that the onsen was one room for both men and women was… interesting. Nowadays it’s absolutely luxury for me to spend 2.5 hours at a single location, but I enjoyed every second of it, despite the fact that sometimes neighbours could be heard or even seen. Not a low risk location, but one of my favorites in recent years.

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Naughtics Love Hotel

Abandoned love hotels have become a Christmas tradition on Abandoned Kansai, but by now I have explored so many of them that I have to throw in one or two off-season or I’ll never get to publish them all – the best ones though will still be reserved for December…

Most love hotels outside of the big city centers are in rather remote locations between towns or the outskirts of smaller cities. Usually there are a handful of them near a highway or a rather busy rural road, but often enough there is nothing else around… which makes closed / abandoned love hotels an easy victim for vandals – they can go to town (…) and make as much noise as they want (!) without causing anybody to call the police.
The Naughtics Love Hotel (no, it’s not a spelling mistake, it’s a portmanteau of naughty and nautics…) was an original find off the beaten tracks and rather hard to find, which is probably the reason why most of the cabins were still locked, but the ones that were accessible were in decent condition overall. Moldy and musky, but more because of natural decay than vandalism. Some of the cabins had the shape of little huts, other were super original and looked like boats; both inside and out. Which was hilarious, because it all tied the naughty / nautics / cabin / hut / ship theme together – you know, like a rug…
The main rooms of the ships looked a bit like a boat cabin, but the baths were just small tubs and not very original. The garden plot type huts on the other hand were a little bit bigger inside and featured more spacious baths with original tubs, like the large plastic bowls… which raises the question whether or not some salad tossing was going on there!

Unfortunately not all cabins were accessible, but the ones that were made for a great little original find out of sight and out of mind. Judging by the overall good condition and the fact that I found an online review written 5 years prior to my visit I assume that the Naughtics Love Hotel had been abandoned for about three years at the time of me taking photos there on a lovely sunny early afternoon.

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A virtually unknown abandoned 1970s clinic in the Japanese countryside spectacularly unspectacular!

Everything can happen when exploring potentially abandoned places you’ve never seen or even heard of before. Best case scenario is you find an untouched place that sat there quietly for decades and was just waiting to be discovered or you can trigger alarms… or inhabitants, as the location looked abandoned, but wasn’t really.
Driving up to the Local Doctor’s Clinic we had no clue whether or not the building in front of us was really abandoned, except for somebody in the group claiming that it was – and arriving there very, very early on a Sunday morning gave no indication whether they were right or not. The visible maintainable area was small, but maintained, the entrance with the pristine clinic’s sign looked like it still could be used anytime. It was tempting to just assume that the risk was too high and leave, but when you got up at 5 a.m., skipped not only the hotel’s breakfast, but breakfast in general, and drove for almost an hour to your first location of the day you don’t give up that easily.
The premises opposite a tourist hotel were surrounded by a large wall, to tall for me to look over, which barely ever happens. But the wall also featured a sliding door… which was unlocked, much to our surprise. So one after another we slipped through and found ourselves in a small garden that needed some “ing”, which was a good sign as it indicated that the building was indeed abandoned or at least not recently used. But access to a slightly overgrown garden means nothing if the house is locked – which it wasn’t, as it turned out quickly. So we continued our stealth mode and entered… only to find a dead body in the living room! Nah, I’m just kidding… The house was empty (i.e. nobody was there, neither dead nor alive), but some explorers found a corpse at an abandoned hotel in Miyazaki prefecture rather recently. What a nightmare that must be… The Local Doctor’s Clinic, at this point more like the “Local Doctor’s House” as we entered through the private quarters, was safe to explore though, except for the wooden floors making some squeaky noises. The interior was clearly outdated and rather traditional, a bit cluttered maybe, but still in remarkable condition and kind of ready to move in.
The same goes for the actual clinic part, which mostly consisted of a rather large combined office / pharmacy / examination room, but also a small reception and even a tiny waiting room, if I remember correctly. The amount of details was fascinating! So many items to take pictures of, so many ultra-wide shots worth trying to capture! Unfortunately time was of the essence and we barely spent an hour at the Local Doctor’s Clinic before we we left through the garden. Or tried to, as some early risers from the hotel across the street did a very Japanese thing and gathered outside just to have a chat for the sake of having a chat and exchanging pleasant empty phrases. It would have looked very suspicious if a group of people with photo gear would have left through a door in the garden wall of an old clinic that probably everybody within 20 kilometers knew at one point. So we waited for about 10 minutes until the chatter became silent before we finally left in an orderly hurry.

Despite being quite short, the exploration of the Local Doctor’s Clinic was absolutely mindblowing – this traditional mix of private house and medical clinic in nearly pristine condition looked like something from an open-air museum. It was one of those jackpot locations you always hope for as an urban explorer, but that are actually close to impossible to find. Out of respect for the Local Doctor’s Clinic and my co-explorers I waited several years with this article and refrained from using pictures of the exterior or the garden, and hinting where the clinic was or whom I was with – but you guys know who you are and how amazing this experience was! Without a doubt one of the best abandoned clinics in all of Japan and basically the small town version of the much bigger and significantly more modern *Wakayama Hospital*.

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Even without the Olympic Games and the crippling tourist masses Japan has turned into a hot mess as the number of new coronavirus infections is exploding and a humid summer is descending on the pretty much fireworks and festival free country after a comparatively mild rainy season. “You’re living on an island – grab a beer and enjoy the beach!” is easier said than done as the coast in central Kansai is pretty nasty. It mostly consists of artificial islands and tons of large industrial areas. To get to somewhat acceptable beaches it takes me between 60 and 90 minutes door to sand (Suma / Omimaiko), the nice beaches at the “Korean Sea of Japan” or Shirahama are more like three hours away – not really suitable as day trips, especially in the days of social distancing and the mixed messages by the Japanese government and private companies about subsidizing a domestic travel campaign while dropping subtle hints regarding avoiding unnecessarily crossing prefecture borders. Yes, it’s one hot humid mess with temperatures up to 34 °C (felt like 37!) and a piercing sun – if you ever wondered about the origins of Japanese mythology, just spend two weeks in August in Kyoto or Osaka and you’ll easily piece it together yourself.

Anyway, heat, humidity, everything’s nasty and I’m not really in the mood for endless hours of research for a well-written profound article, so let me pick up on the Kansai coastline theme and post a few pictures I took nine years ago of an abandoned train line that once went from Osaka’s city center to the harbor. It was, most likely, a freight line built in the late 1950s that split from the tracks of the current Osaka Loop Line near Bentencho Station and went for a total of about 1.5 kilometers to Fukuzaki and the artificial island that is part of it. Since my solo photo walk back in 2011 most of the tracks have been removed, the rest looks more or less overgrown now. As railroad tracks are not very wide the narrow strip of land that has been reclaimed was used for very specific purposes – the Osaka Horie Boys, a baseball club for elementary and middle school kids, use a stretch to stretch and play sports, but most of the ground has been turned into commercial parking lots.

The Osaka Harbor Railroad was nothing more than a nice walk on a sunny autumn afternoon a long time ago, but hopefully some of you enjoyed my little rant or are railroad nerds who appreciate memories of disappearing tracks… And if you appreciate the memories of disappearing trains, *check out my article about this train graveyard*.

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