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Wind is barely ever a factor when exploring abandoned places, but it this case it made taking outdoor shots very, very uncomfortable…

Over last few weeks I already wrote two articles about my day in Haboro in early May (featuring the *Chikubetsu Mine* and the *Haboro Green Village*), so you probably remember that it wasn’t the friendliest of days to explore, but not the worst either. You also probably remember the history of the place, so I won’t repeat again (built in 1940, closed in the early 70s, yada, yada, yada…). Arriving at the Haboro Miners’ Apartments, just a few hundred meters away from the Green Village / elementary school, the wind picked up significantly. Usually nothing to worry about, but as you can see on the photos, the apartment blocks were surrounded by a lot of trees… trees that were massively affected by the strong winds outside – to an extend that I was quite worried one of them would fall down on me… although it would have probably enough if a branch broke loose and turned into a widow maker. In addition to that the almost 80 year old concrete buildings were in really bad condition, apparently losing bits and pieces every once in a while, especially from the dilapidated balconies and the roofs in horrible condition…
Inside, the apartment buildings looked similar to the ones I’ve explored before – massive concrete blocks with wooden floors and storage spaces; some of the floors were in rather bad condition, most of the apartments were empty. Since the mine didn’t close by surprise and people could move out at their own speed, there was probably little to nothing left behind. And more than 40 years of irregular visitors did the rest. Interestingly those apartments did not only have private toilets (a real luxury in 1940s Japan!), they even featured Western style toilets, which is a luxury a lot of Japanese train stations don’t offer to this very day! (And don’t believe the hype, hardly anybody uses the squatting toilets here, unless they have to. It’s the same with restaurants and sitting on the ground – if a place offers both, usually the counter and the tables are occupied first, then the rest fills up…)

Overall it was the strong wind that made this exploration rather memorable – the buildings themselves offered some interesting details (like that tree growing through a balcony rail), but they were no match to the *Landslide Mining Apartments* and especially the *Matsuo Mine Apartment Buildings*.

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The Glücks-Königreich (or Glückskönigreich – or Glucks Kingdom, when butchered by English speakers… sometimes Kingdom of Luck / Fortune) was a Germany themed park in Hokkaido, Japan; history, culture, fairy tales, and fun – all in one. Sadly the owners didn’t have much luck and didn’t make a fortune, though I am sure the park brought happiness to a lot of people while it lasted…

Opened on July 1st 1989 and closed in 2003 after just 14 years of being in business, the Glückskönigreich has been a popular urbex location half of its existence for both locals and foreigners, who time and again acted like douche nozzles by their own admission. Several years ago I read a story about how several English teachers (…), all foreigners from the Obihiro area, went to the Glückskönigreich and got caught by the owner, who still had an eye on the property (much like the owner of *Nara Dreamland* did). Why did they get caught and handed over to the police? Because some of those morons started to play a grand piano they found! Without the shadow of a doubt a new level of stupidity, ignorance and disrespect. Much like a more recent report of a (non-Japanese) girl who went to Glückskönigreich with her friends – and who couldn’t resist to post pictures of her “crew” heading back home with goodie bags after she wrote about how that bunch of c#nts (pardon my French!) looted the gift shops; I guess it’s not a surprise for you to hear that no more copies of the items she showed or described were still in the gift shop(s) when I went there…
“So why do you write about the Glückskönigreich under its real name and draw more attention to it?” That’s a valid question, one I am struggling with even since before I explored the place myself. To give you a plain and simple answer: The Glückskönigreich is a fascinating, well-known location past its prime, with its own Wikipedia page and an interesting history. Writing about it under a fake name would be pointless as people would figure out the real name anyway, so I have two choices: Putting it on hold indefinitely until I either run out of places to write about or the park got demolished (which I have done for the far less known *Shodoshima Peacock Park*… and which I am currently doing with quite a few other locations that are still virtually unknown) – or write about it now, piecing together the complex history of the Glückskönigreich for the first time in any language, as pretty much everybody else who has been inside the abandoned park was too busy bragging about their own bravery and / or mischief. I decided to choose the second option… like I did with Nara Dreamland, which brought joy to many, many people, most likely including you. And the Glückskönigreich is in lots ways the new Nara Dreamland… including the amount of visitors (I met about half a dozen people during my few hours there.. which is way above average for a Japanese location).

What is the Glückskönigreich?

The Glückskönigreich was a Germany themed amusement park that opened in 1989 near the Tokachi-Obihiro airport on a plot of land measuring about 800 by 250 meters (that’s more than 2.15 square feet, dear readers from the United States!). Right at the cutesy entrance it featured a full-sized wind mill and a West German pay phone booth TelH78 – a gorgeous large hotel based on the famous Schloss Bückeburg (Bueckeburg Palace), home of the princely family of Schaumburg-Lippe, including its spectacular ceremonial hall, opened in 1992. From the Schlosshotel Bückeburg (10800 Yen per person even 15 years ago in November – not a horrible deal, but not exactly a bargain…) visitors entered the main area of the kingdom through a replica of the town walls in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a super popular destination for Japanese tourists in Germany, part of the famous Romantic Road. The town square consisted of several half-timber houses, a few buildings reminiscent of German palaces in general, and a replica of the Rathaus in Hanau (made of sandstone!), including the sculpture of the Brothers Grimm in front of it! On the back of the city hall were almost a dozen more buildings in different styles from the early modern age – half-timbered, a castle, a church, a traditional straw-thatched house, and many more. Inside those houses were all kinds of shops and workshops – a traditional shoemaker, a butcher, a baker, a potter, several restaurants, a fairy tale house, several museums, … There was easily enough to see and do to spent a whole day, especially when interacting with all the German students and other expats posing as fairy tale characters or running the shops (when the park opened for a mere 70k per month, just 820 DM). But there was even more: Grimm’s Forest, a pay as you go amusement park with all the usual theme park rides that places like the *Tenkaen* or the *Shikoku New Zealand Village* were missing. Oh, and of course you could have your German dream wedding at the Glückskönigreich, thanks to the chapel in the park and the spectacular ceremonial hall at the Schlosshotel. The entrance fee was rather reasonable and probably changed over time, but the amounts I found were 1800 / 1400 Yen (adults / children) for the park entrance (rides not included) or 3800 / 3200 Yen for the Free Passport (rides included)… which actually looked like a one page copy of a German passport. At one point the park apparently even had its own money, at least I saw some specimen at the office in the Hanauer Rathaus.

The History of the Glückskönigreich

Why did the Glückkönigreich close? And why did it open in the first place? Neither of those question is easy or definitely to answer, so let me try to piece together information from more than a dozen sources in three languages – for the first time ever. Oh, I wish it would have been as easy as translating or rephrasing an article, which I am sure will sooner or later happen with this one… Either in one of the gift shops or in the main office I saw several dozen photos of what appeared to be research trips to Germany by a Japanese guy, including what appeared to be meetings with German officials; all of them either not dated or from the second half of the 1980s. This guy seemed to be a real estate tycoon called Atsuo Nishi, who had this great vision of a Germany themed park to improve tourism in Hokkaido; Obihiro, to be more specific, about 3 hours away by car from Sapporo. Now, this was the time of the Japanese real estate bubble and only the sky seemed to be the limit – according to an article of the weekly German newspaper Die Zeit from 1989 the (there nameless) founder of the park expected that visitors would come for day trips from as far as Tokyo thanks to nearby Obihiro Airport (though Tokachi-Obihiro Airport would have been technically correct as the old Obihiro Airport was replaced and renamed (to Tokachi Airfield) in 1981). And at first things seemed to go well – an article in Der Spiegel from February 1990 says that the Glückskönigreich had more than half a million visitors within the first six months, but sadly I never found out how much Zenrin Leisureland actually spent on this incredibly ambitious project. One thing is for sure: It wasn’t cheap and the spending was far from being over in early 1990! While most of the buildings were replicas, Nishi and Zenrin didn’t shy away from spending big bucks on things that made little difference. For example when they imported cobble stones from Dresden (sources that claim they were from Leipzig or Berlin are wrong according to Guntram Rother, who spent almost 1.5 years in Obihiro as the lead architect of the project, after he was hired by Nishi from his former position as the conservationist of the city of Kassel, where he was one of Germany’s leading experts in the preservation of physical structures) or hired German craftsmen for jobs Japanese experts could have done as well; 250k Deutschmark (DM) were spent on the plumbing at the Schlosshotel alone (on a company called Truss Haustechnik), still under construction by the time those two articles were written. Not to mention that the Glückskönigreich was able to buy two half-timber houses for 1.2 million DM each, one of them from the year 1702. They were dismantled near Wiesbaden and reassembled at the Glückskönigreich, despite being under monumental protection. “… We got them after we promised to give them back when we don’t need them anymore”, The Spiegel quoted Toshihiko Kimishima, the park’s PR guy – they were considered the oldest buildings in all of Hokkaido, now they are fading away! But it seems like the Glückskönigreich was ill-fated right from the beginning, despite its initial success: According to various sources, the place was named after the nearby Koufuku Station, koufuku meaning luck. The problem is: There never was an active train station near the Glückskönigreich ever! It probably was still there when the planning of the park began, but the station was shut down in 1987, but before the privatization of JNR! And that must have been a terrible blow to the Glückskönigreich, because now the closest station wasn’t just 3 kilometers straight down the road (cheap shuttle busses!) – it was 23 kilometers away in central Obihiro! But Nishi and Zenrin followed through with their plans and opened the park on July 1st 1989 with a gigantic party and hundreds of people, including a prince of the Imperial family, a member of the German embassy and several mayors of cities along the German Fairy Tale Route. Back then the reddish replica of the town hall in Hanau apparently was a hotel, but after the incredibly detailed yet super fake Schlosshotel Bückeburg was finished the Rathaus was converted into a museum, a restaurant called Hanau, and the main office of the park – at least that’s what it was during the time of my exploration. Another building became the John Lennon Art Gallery. Yes, the John Lennon Art Gallery. Apparently after 13 years Germany alone wasn’t a good enough reason to visit the Glückskönigreich, so the main attraction of the year 2002 was an exhibition of 16 John Lennon lithographs (from June on) – and I hope whoever owned them was able to get them back before the park closed “temporarily” in 2003 and officially in 2007. What happened in-between? Well, the usual – after some successful years in the early 90s with up to 740k visitors per year (which is almost 5 times the population of Obihiro!), the number of guests dropped quickly to about 300k in 1997 (causing a loss of about 430 million Yen, something like 3.7 million USD back then), and 200k in 2000, almost quadrupling the loss from three years before – devastating for a park of that size…

Exploring the Glückskönigreich

Despite the fact that the Glückskönigreich is slowly swallowed by its once surrounding forest, you can see single structures literally from miles away. Entering certain elements of the park can be tricky at times, especially since there have been reports of unpleasant sightings, like owners and bears. The Schlosshotel Bückeburg at the entrance is without a doubt still one of the main highlights. Still, because it looks awesome from the outside, but it’s a moldy hellhole inside. To this very day all doors I checked were either locked or locked by chains, but the ones pried open or with broken glass elements gave access to a smell as bad as anything I ever had to deal with during my explorations. The only reason I got inside was to look for the spectacular ceremonial hall, a pretty exact replica of the one at the original Palace Bückeburg. I found it after a while, but I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I hoped I would. Luckily some of the photos turned out well, so I guess you’ll enjoy it probably more than I did… 🙂 The surrounding of the Schlosshotel and therefore the way into the park is pretty much overgrown now, too. This place it not nearly as wheelchair or car accessible as *Nara Dreamland* was during its last few months… In addition to certain people looting, metal thieves have been busy too, stealing both piping inside the hotel and other buildings as well as statues and other metal objects outside. The John Lennon Art Gallery and its beerhall was almost as moldy as the Schlosshotel at the time of my visit, the same applies to most parts of the gorgeous Hanau city hall. The half-timbered buildings along the square started to collapse, probably thanks to regular floods. Apparently the cobble stone guys did such great work that the water doesn’t have a way to drain, so it sets the ground floors of the houses under water – even if it’s just a centimeter, the damage is done. The buildings behind the square and the city hall are still in much better condition – my favorites being a fairy tale house and the butchery. Man, I miss German cold meats, sausages, and bread – and it looks like this was probably the most authentic place to get them. Past the shoemaker in the straw-thatched house was the park’s part with the ride – but that’s a story for another time, this article is already long enough…
BTW: The last video I linked to at the end of the article is a music video, Fukai Mori by Do As Infinity – it was shot in early 2001 at the Glückskönigreich and gives you a nice idea what certain now completely rundown areas looked like…

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Bears are a growing danger to people in Japan – little did I know that one of them was waiting for me inside this abandoned school / holiday village!

Hokkaido, the great, wild north of Japan… The country’s second largest and by far coldest island is especially popular amongst outdoor and nature fans. Oh, and brown bears love Hokkaido, too. There are more brown bears in Japan than anywhere else in Asia besides Russia – and due to climate change they are becoming increasingly more dangerous to people; roaming the streets of small towns, killing one or two people per year, most often over a dispute about bamboo shoots (a.k.a. locals) or the right of way (a.k.a. hikers). Urbexers? Not (yet) on the diet of Japanese bears, but some abandoned places are definitely in bear territory, including the Haboro Green Village; the converted Taiyo Elementary School. Little did I know that one of them was waiting for visitors inside of the defunct and derelict building complex…
Like most urban explorers visiting Japan’s most famous abandoned school, my buddy *Hamish* and I started our day with the spectacular round gymnasium / auditorium. The Taiyo Elementary School (not be confused with a school of the same name in Hokkaido’s village of Niikappu – that one was auctioned off in 2009 for 30 million Yen, about a quarter million bucks) was built in 1940 for the children of the workers at the *Chikubetsu Mine*. In 1967 it was refurbished / rebuilt – and in 1971 it was closed, just a year after the mine; sad! After being without children for almost a decade, the city reopened the school as the Haboro Green Village, apparently a hotel / hostel / campsite for families and even larger groups. It ran from 1979 till 2000 – just before the internet and digital photography became really popular, which is probably why there is so little information about it out there.
Anyway, Hamish and I went to the round gymnasium / auditorium first and took all the usual pictures there, especially the most famous standard shot I called “Symmetry For Dummies”, because there are so many lines everywhere that you’d have to seriously shaky for whatever reason to mess up that shot… As far as school gymnasiums go, this was probably as good as it gets. Cleaner and newer? No problem! Bigger / more original? Probably not…
Since the wooden hallway connecting the gymnasium with the main building was slightly dilapidated, we decided to head outside and enter the former school directly through the front door. Usually I would have circled the school, but I guess it was a mix of time pressure, cold wind, drizzle, and false familiarity with the location that lead me to grab the doorknob, twist it, open the door… and stare right in the face of a big brown bear! Luckily it was a taxidermy one, so there was no harm done… 🙂
The Haboro Green Village was a rundown, boarded up, vandalized, moldy piece of something – with tons of surprises other than the bear “guarding” the main entrance probably 95% of people will enter through. First of all there were other taxidermy animals, a gigantic seal and a decently sized deer. Then there were quite a few Pokémon Trading Cards on the floor of boys’ restroom. The table video games / video game tables from the early 80s were amazing, including Championship Baseball by Sega. And the amazing (bust rusty and vandalized) Live Beer cooler by Asahi. The rest of the building offered some nice spots here and there, thanks to some decent patina due to 17 years of abandonment.

The Haboro Green Village / Taiyo Elementary School has been on my list of places to explore for many, many years – mainly because of the impressive gymnasium and because it was a famous spot easy to find. Locations like that tend to disappoint, because they are known so well and taking the same photos as everybody else feels more like a chore than a successful explore. And to some degree this actually applied to the gymnasium – luckily the main building offered quite a few surprises, so overall I was very pleased with this exploration… and it was only the first one in Haboro (before the mine *I wrote about last week*)! More about the rest will follow soon – but first some completely different locations… 🙂

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Haboro is one of the most famous ghost towns in the world, thanks to both national and international attention, for example an episode of the paranormal reality TV series Destination Truth – and after almost eight years of exploring abandoned places all over Japan I was finally able to get to this rather remote and surprisingly time-consuming place myself…

Haboro was founded in 1894 and grew only slowly for the first 30-something years of its existence – located at the Sea of Japan it has a humid continental climate with strong winds and an average of 5 meters of snow per year; houses along the coast almost all are protected by tall fences made of wooden boards to break the wind, maling them look like little forts. During World War II (which was longer for Japan as the country started earlier than the rest of the world…) the former suburb of Tomamae grew from a few hundred inhabitants to almost than 30000, despite the harsh conditions of its remote location – thanks to two large coal mines in the mountains rising behind the coastal town. (The Chikubetsu Mine (opened in 1940), which we’ll have a look at today, and the Haboro Mine (opened in 1935), which I’ll present in a future article.) To avoid unnecessary commutes, everything the mines needed were built: apartment buildings, a hospital, several schools – basically a Haboro II. In 1970 both mines were closed and the population decreased from 28574 to 13624 in 1975 to 10102 in 1995 to 7253 in 2017. The tendency? Still going down by a couple of dozen people per year.
Today Haboro is a sleepy little coastal town again with the usual array of supermarkets, car dealerships and even a driving school as well as two museums. Nothing out of the ordinary, but not too shabby for such a small remote town. The train line, built in 1941 as the “Coal Line Haboro” to move the coal to places it was needed, once had two stops within the city limits – Chikubetsu in the mountains and Haboro at the sea. Chikubetsu Station was closed with the mines in 1970, Haboro Station followed in 1987 when the state owned JNR was privatized as Japan Railways – and got rid of the complete line between Rumoi and Horonobe. Which means that nowadays Haboro is only accessible by car… and maybe an obscure bus line running three times a day.
Then why is Haboro so popular amongst urban explorers and ghost hunters? Because the ruins of the mining area in the mountains are easily accessible – nobody seems to care about them anymore, there are not even warning or do not enter signs. Despite the fact that pretty much all of them are death traps and mostly demolished, the Haboro ruins are strangely fascinating. We’ll return to Haboro several times in the future (not only for the second mine!) as I spent a whole day there with my buddy *Hamish*, but today I’d like to focus on the ruins of the Chikubetsu Mine.
The first thing most people see of the Chikubetsu Mine is its large concrete hopper, still sitting next to the road, just a little bit more rusty than almost 50 years ago. Much more rusty. So rusty that metal pieces keep falling off. Pointy pieces… One of them piercing right through my shoe and thick hiking socks – if I would have walked just a little bit faster the bayonet shaped spike would have gone right through my foot – and with the emptied out and partly collapsed mine hospital down the road it would have been a painful return to civilization. Last stop of the former Chikubetsu mine – the former power plant, now mostly demolished; the impressively large chimney was still standing, so were couple of other structures and walls, but overall there was little to see on that extremely windy and slightly rainy day – though still better conditions than when exploring the snowy *Horonai Coal Mine & Substation* on a previous trip to Hokkaido.

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“There is no vandalism in Japan!”
Oh yes, there is, plenty of it! Just have a look here…

On the last two weekends I went exploring on 3 out of 4 days – 5 of the 7 places I actually explored on those 3 days were abandoned hotels… and only 1 of them was exciting, the other 4 were vandalized pieces of garbage; virtually every window broken, every vending machine cracked open, half of the rooms destroyed (and the other half looking like the ones I’ve seen at dozens other hotels before…), all places smelling like mold… Sometimes I wonder if exploring those places is a waste of time. My time, your time, everybody’s time. But then again, you never know what you find. Even some of the most rotten places offer surprises like unusual items or spectacular views. Not the Hiroshima Sports Hotel, a large accommodation for active people featuring a 25 meter pool, half a dozen tennis court and access to the 18 hole golf course right across the street. Rumors had it that the hotel was inaccessible and under constant supervision of the golf course staff, so I was a bit worried not to get inside, but at the same time had high expectations in case I did. Sadly it was pretty apparent upon arrival that I was a victim of outdated information – countless open and broken windows indicated that the hotel had been severely vandalized over the last few years, despite the fact that the golf course and the road leading there were as busy as ever. Luckily access was rather easy, so it was only a matter of timing to get into the hotel without being seen / being seen by as few people as possible.
Sadly the Hiroshima Sports Hotel turned out to be a vandalized piece of garbage, as I mentioned before, sorely afflicted by both metal thieves and your average vandals. The entrance floor (technically 2F) with the lobby, the kitchen, some conference rooms and an office were pretty chaotic, but at least featured a nice graffito at one wall and bird’s nest inside a partly emptied switch box (which I only saw because my fellow explorers Dan and Kyoko told me about it). The promising ground floor (1F) lead outside to the pool and the tennis courts, which I couldn’t take proper photos of because I would have been spotted from the outside within 30 seconds. It also featured two underwhelming public baths, some wet and moldy party rooms as well as a pitch-black and smelly bar – and tons of broken glass, machines, furniture, … Nothing I haven’t published many, many times before on this blog. And the rest of the hotel? Well, 3F to 7F were just average hotel rooms. In surprisingly good condition, given the vandalized two lowest floors, but still nothing you and I haven’t seen many, many times before.
And that’s why I am a little bit conflicted about the Hiroshima Sports Hotel and similar places – on the one hand it sometimes feels a little bit like a chore to take enough photos for a full set at places like that (especially knowing that they attract a lot fewer viewers than the spectacular places that will follow in the upcoming weeks, starting on Tuesday!), on the other it still beats sitting at home watching TV… What do you think? Are you tired of abandoned hotels and maybe even skip them when they appear on Abandoned Kansai? Or do you agree that it still beats watching TV? 🙂

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There are hot springs all over Japan (even in Okinawa!) und there are water parks all over Japan (even in Hokkaido!), but a hot spring water park? Those are surprisingly rare…

About two years ago I was able to convince my Japanese friends Yuko and Takanobu to do some real urbex after spending a night taking pictures at *Nara Dreamland*, which was basically already a tourist attraction at the time, with more visitors than many a temple in Nara…
We headed for the mountains, which isn’t exactly an unusual move in Japan, where mountains are hard to avoid when you drive for a while. After exploring two rather large locations, bothg of which I yet have to write about, we arrived at the Hot Spring Water Park just outside of a generally rather rundown onsen town, probably the home to an abandoned hotel or two – but we didn’t even have time to check that, because the sun was already setting and we were quickly running out of time. The curse of most urbex days… on 90% of them you run out of time at the last location of the day. Because if you don’t, you do your best to rush to another nearby place, no matter how low your expectations for it are. But I had rather high hopes for the Hot Spring Water Park, because back then I had never seen it anywhere else before, and even nowadays it barely ever pops up. Anyway, we parked the car at the road above the water park and then rushed down to snap some shots before it was getting too dark.
Japanese water parks have always been a mystery to me, as they are open for just a few weeks in July and August, no matter how hot (and humid!) the weather is in June or September. The dates are set and people stick with them. Back home in Germany those kinds of entertainment facilities open and close depending on the weather, usually starting in May and ending service in September. If you have a rainy May, the bath opens rather late in the month, if there is a heat wave in early May, it opens right away, to take advantage of the weather. Everybody involved brings a certain flexibility to the table to serve locals as good as they can, despite the fact that Germans love to bitch about how bad service is in their country. (And sometimes it is, especially when shopping, but that’s the result of their “Geiz ist geil!” (tight is right) mentality. If you press for some of the lowest food and clothing prices in the industrialized world, you gotta live with the consequences… service costs money!
Anway, the Hot Spring Water Park – a cute little thing in the mountains that could have been the pool area of a large resort hotel. But since it wasn’t, I understand why it failed. If your money making season is between six and eight weeks long, you better grab as much wonga as you can while you can; though being located in the middle of nowhere next to a small onsen town surely didn’t help. Nevertheless it was good fun exploring this rarely seen location, even though an hour clearly wasn’t long enough…

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The name sounds Mediterranean, the looks are kind of Mediterranean, yet the Casa Marina wasn’t anywhere close to Italy, Greece or Spain – but it was still a memorable exploration…

It’s not easy to admit to acting stupid, especially in a public forum like this, but I guess every once in a while we are all guilty of it – and in the greater scheme of life the following story probably ranks a 4 or 5 out of 10; it’s not like I was trying to smuggle drugs out of the Philippines or that I voted for Trump (which would have been double stupid, given his health care plans…).
As you probably know I seriously twisted my knee leaving an abandoned location back in January – the first of the day on an urbex weekend about four hours away from home. Instead of seeing a doctor right away, I pushed forward, resulting in the exploration of the *Kurodake Drive-In*, a surprisingly interesting location. At that point the problem was walking with a rather wobbly knee, but by the time me and my fellow explorers (“It’s probably not that bad!” When did I hear that before? Oh yeah *when I tore a ligament and fractured an ankle* and was told by colleagues that I probably just sprained it, because people wanted to continue to play airsoft instead of driving me to a hospital…) arrived at the Casa Marina, my knee was swollen by about 50%, probably limited by the width of my jeans at that point; and of course it was pretty much stiff in a 90° angle. So what to do with the Casa Marina, an abandoned apartment building construction ruin? Waiting in the car for my friends to finish? Pah, humbug! Instead I used my tripod as a crotch and followed inside – admittedly with some problems, because there were metal spikes sticking out everywhere, trying to fend me off like a rose fends off bugs with its thorns. Not only did I explore the ground floor, I even explored the upper floor and made it another half staircase to the top of the counstruction ruin, where things were prepared for another two or three floors. While exploring I barely felt any pain, I was just happy to be able to explore, despite the obvious injury. The following night though was a living nightmare as I woke up in pain at least once an hour. The next morning I decided to cut the weekend short and returned home as I wasn’t able to walk like the day before – just sitting in the back of the car for 45 minutes to the next Shinkansen station made me sweat like a medieval whore in church. In the weeks that followed I saw half a dozen doctors, used active versions of medical devices I’ve only seen abandoned before, and received absolutely zero healing treatment (!), not even crutches to walk on – just diagnostic stuff and pain killers (which I refused to take, but the doctor insisted me to pay for anyway). Luckily nothing was torn or cracked, so now, four months later, I am able to walk and slowly run without pain, but I am still slow on stairs, always worried that the knee might twist again… which is a horrible feeling. Nothing that limits me much in daily life or while exploring though – since the accident I’ve successfully explored more than two dozen locations and I don’t intend to slow down!

As for the Casa Marina – it was a mid-size construction ruin. I like that kind of locations, so I had quite a good time there, but the king of concrete still is and probably will be forever the *Nakagusuku Hotel Ruin*!

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