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Archive for the ‘Love Hotel’ Category

Rundown, rotten, and vandalized – but still equipped with a unique pneumatic tube system. Even the worst abandoned places can offer some unusual things…

A few years ago, after I finally explored some abandoned love hotels (which I considered rather rare at the time), I started to publish articles about this weird industry and relationships in Japan in the week of Christmas Eve to wish you all Merry XXX-Mas. Since then I explored way more abandoned fashion hotels than there are Christmas Eves per year – so they started to pile up. Since I would like to keep this lovely tradition, I will continue to write about an abandoned love hotel as the second to last article of the year (saving the good ones for the occasion), but also write about other abandoned love hotels every once in a while… like about the Tube Mail Love Hotel. (Now that I think of it – I might have done that in the past anyway…)
At first sight the Tube Mail Love Hotel made an excellent impression. Located at a rural road outside of a small city, the building showed only few signs of vandalism. Abandoned love hotels are amongst my least favorite abandoned places as those in good condition are rather rare, but this exploration started quite positive, so I became hopeful for about five to ten minutes – that’s how long it took to get inside without being seen by the beekeeper (?) across the street and to reach the second floor. Sadly the story about birds and bees doesn’t have much of a happy end, unless you like dilapidated locations. And I know that a lot of you do like visible signs of decay, even signs of vandalism – like my co-explorer on that day. I on the other hand prefer clean, tidy, untouched places… maybe with some vines growing, but no mold, no brittle floors, no smashed interior. Unfortunately the Tube Mail Love Hotel was one of those latter places.
While the ground floor with the garages was still in decent condition, the two upper floors were just nasty. Every room was vandalized, there was mold and dirt everywhere – it was just one of those places nobody in their right mind would want to spend their spare time at; especially on a hot spring day. But we spent a significant amount of time, money and effort to get there… and a shitty abandoned place is better than none, so I took some pictures and a video, but I can’t say it was much fun. Especially since it was still before noon and we had a list of alternatives. I took my time on the second as I had a feeling that my co-explorer had quite a different opinion about the place, but after an hour I was done and moved on to the third and last floor – a quick walkthrough confirmed what I already expected: more of the same vandalized, dull rooms, barely fancier than regular hotel rooms. At least the *Fashion Hotel Love* had some kinky interior. This one? Didn’t. I don’t think I even took a single photo on the third floor, but behind the love hotel were a couple of bungalows… rundown shacks, most of them with garages – in other words: more rooms to check out. Surprisingly enough they were more interesting and less vandalized than the main building that was virtually destroyed by metal thieves, airsoft players, frustrated youth and other douche nozzles. And by interesting I mean interesting as in “This tastes interesting!”, because the shacks were even tackier and less tasteful than the rest of the Tube Mail Love Hotel – the glorious highlight was a wallpaper depicting a bar populated by dogs. If that’s not a boner killer I don’t know what is…

Long story short: Despite the kind of propitiating last minutes I really didn’t enjoy exploring the Tube Mail Love Hotel – and neither the wallpaper nor the tube system nor the Nintendo hanafuda cards (that’s how Nintendo started in the 19th century and got rich initially – fun fact: in the 1960s Nintendo actually owned love hotels!) changed anything about it. In the end we spent a whopping two hours at this waste of space, plus the time we took for this detour… Time that was missing at the end of the day – at an untouched onsen I found, where we probably were the first explorers ever to enter! So I really hope that you liked this place and this article! Urbex is all about one man’s trash being another one’s treasure – and if you like all of this, then it was time well spent after all, even in my book. They can’t be all win-win locations, like the *Hachijo Royal Hotel* or *Nara Dreamland*

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Merry XXX-Mas, everyone! Hoe, hoe, hoe… Another year has gone by, but before we are going to have a look back next week, we’ll go down again to the seedy parts of Japan and explore an especially dirty and kinky abandoned love hotel! (The following paragraphs of this article use rather strong language with terminology of sexual nature; some photos in the gallery at the end show pictures of adult toys. If you are not comfortable with that, you might want to skip this article and come back for a new one next week – oh, and this whole article is definitely not safe for work!)

One of the few not so flattering images a lot of foreigners have about Japan is that the country is very kinky and full of sexual deviants – rapey pixel porn, used underwear vending machines, love hotels with Hello Kitty SM rooms, lots of sexual depictions involving underage girls and / or tentacles. And much like the positive stereotypes, this… unusual one… is not exactly reflecting reality. While most porn is indeed both pixelated and pixilated, and apparently a lot of Japanese men are so “hands on” that pretty much every train line has women only cars to treat that symptom of the omnipresent sexism, the parts about tentacles, underwear vending machines and kinky hotel rooms are vastly exaggerated – over the years I’ve seen my share of abandoned love hotels, yet it took me almost eight years to finally find a kinky one. And believe me, I was looking for one! Hard! Just for the love of urbex, of course… 🙂
The Fashion Hotel Love (or was it Love Hotel Fashion? Or maybe something completely different? Who knows…) was a rather small amusement hotel in the countryside. A place easy to overlook, despite the decaying sign in front of the orange pieces of construction fence so typical for Japan. Wedged between two active businesses, access turned out to be surprisingly tricky. Luckily there was little to nothing to worry about once inside, and it didn’t take long to find the Saint Andrew’s Cross with the handcuffs hanging from it. Most love hotel rooms are just glorified hotel rooms with a karaoke machine or a video game system, some feature a whirlpool or a shower you can see from the bed… and there are menus for both food and adult toys. Rooms with kinky equipment or luxury interior like a sauna or a real mini pool are rather unusual – so this was a rare find, an abandoned kinky love hotel! Sadly the room in question was pretty dark, partly because the bed area had been the victim of arson, which lead to the discontinuation of business in 2009. Considering eight years of abandonment the hotel was still in pretty good condition, though there were definitely signs of vandalism and more cases of arson – a total of three rooms were partly or completely burned out, fortunately the hotel was a surprisingly solid structure, so nothing to worry about when moving around. And there was plenty to see! The arson rooms, a lockable wooden cage, a second room with a saltire, various sex chairs, nature reclaiming another room, a still intact “fun sized” condom dispenser, various signs…

I had high hopes for the Love Hotel Fashion and despite the constant rain it was a close to perfect exploration – I basically had to be dragged out of there after two hours as I could have easily spend another hour or two taking photos of all the little details. Some places you connect with in a positive way, others feel strange till the very end (like the *Japanese Strip Club*). But this, this was definitely one of my favorite exploration of 2017 – so Merry XXX-Mas, everyone!

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Japanese people love euphemisms, especially English ones. Let’s check out another abandoned love hotel!

It has almost become kind of a Christmas tradition here at Abandoned Kansai to write about an abandoned love hotel (Merry XXX-Mas!) for Japan’s last Valentine’s Day of the year (after the original one and White Day), but the country is littered with them… and my explorations of them start to pile up, so I guess I have to throw in one or two at different times of the year.
The Kobe Love Hotel is actually my most recent love hotel exploration, the pictures are barely 72 hours old. Located in one of many love hotel districts in Hyogo’s capital Kobe, this abandoned fashion hotel was actually in surprisingly good condition, considering that it was closed in September 2008 – the last porn on demand menu in the rooms was from August 2008. Before that the Kobe Love Hotel underwent several name changes as the big neon signs outside didn’t match the name printed on the escape routes in the rooms. Of course this couples hotel has seen better days, too – some rooms were more vandalized than others, but overall they were still in decent condition, given that romance hotels are amongst the most vandalized type of abandoned places in Japan, at least in my experience. Since most of the parking lot was overgrown by thick thicket, I guess it prevented most casual vandals from getting access. Oh, and the giant, still active suzumebachi nest probably didn’t attract anybody either…
The layout of the Kobe Love Hotel, actually more of a love motel, was quite interesting – a long line of rooms, parking spots on the west side and a narrow non-public maintenance hallway on the east side; two external staircases allowed guests access to the second floor rooms. For access to the third floor rooms you had to go up an internal staircase past the lobby. Sadly those high up rooms were just regular rooms, without exotic features like an outdoor pool or at least a rooftop Jacuzzi.
The Kobe Love Hotel was a fun exploration, but as a location it was rather average – no kinky themes, no exotic interior, no unusual vending machines. Every room had a slightly different design, but overall the differences to a good hotel room were rather marginal. If you are new to the love hotel topic, I recommend reading my articles about the *Furuichi Love Hotel* and the *Love Hotel Gion*, as I write more about the history of those places there.

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Love Hotel, Japan’s favorite euphemism. A billion dollar industry, despite the country’s extremely low birth rate – and while Japanese girls pretend to hate them, foreign guys apparently are… intrigued.
Back in 2012 the abandoned *Furuichi Love Hotel* was one of the first original finds I made, spotted it from a train while on the way to another location. I wrote about it on Christmas Eve 2012, including a rather long and very subjective rant about relationships in Japan. *Check it out*, despite its age it’s still a fun piece to read!
If you have no clue what love hotels are and how big the business really is, you might want to check out my article about the *Love Hotel Gion* – it’s all in there, no need to repeat myself here…

After exploring the *Asuka Quarry* on a hot spring day (= hot day in spring, not a day enjoying hot springs…) the afternoon was still young, so my exploration buddy for the day Colin and I went on a nice long walk over to a lovel hotel area. Unlike most people having sex, love hotels barely ever come alone – and chances are good that at least one of them has been closed and abandoned when bigger and shinier ones opened as time passed. Having done some research beforehand, I was actually pretty sure in that case, so it took us not long to find the love hotel Guest House; a rather dull name for an establishment like that. Short time lovers paid 2500 Yen for the first hour and 600 Yen for every 30 minutes of overtime (per room, not per guest), overnight stays were 5800 Yen – obviously outdated rates as current ones are about 30 to 50 percent higher; at luxury establishments you can easily spend 20k per night…
Sadly the Guest House was not and never had been a luxury establishment – it looked more like your average run-of-the-mill love hotel; actually on the lower end when it comes to privacy. While most love hotels outside of big cities feature private access to the rooms directly from the car, the Guest House was built like a regular hotel, which means that there was a risk of meeting other couples in the lobby or the hallways. Soooo embarrassing in a society where pretending is more important than being… and probably one of the reasons why the Guest House went bankrupt.
As of now, the whole building is branded as “piichinakibun”; Peach Feeling; maybe more like “feeling peachy”? I actually only found out about the Guest House name, because somebody started peeling off adhesive foil on rate signs. The peachy approach was definitely more casual: offering free food (as known from a lot of manga cafés), advertising longer stays (like at regular hotels) and implying that pets are welcome. Sadly it was not much more successful. Probably because people who like regular hotels don’t want to spend their nights amidst a bunch of active love hotels next to a highway and away from all the amenities of a tourist destination. Since this deserted love hotel was located next to a baseball field, it had seen more than its share of vandalism – at the same time I had to be careful not to be seen or heard; which admittedly wasn’t exactly a task for Solid Snake or Sam Fisher…

Since I found this fruity location in a Japanese data base about love hotels, I am pretty sure it was still active in the 00s – the oldest photos of the abandoned place apparently were taken in 2012, so your guess is as good as mine when it closed exactly. The Guest House was an interesting exploration overall, thanks to the unusual architecture and the unusual type of deserted location, but I’ve been to more interesting abandoned love hotels in better condition before… Especially the *Furuichi Love Hotel* was quite a find.

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I’ve seen my share of “unusual” Japanese architecture over the past ten years, but never had I seen a hotel shaped like a crossbow; especially not an abandoned one! What a fascinating place – at least from a bird’s eye view…

GoogleMaps and its satellite view have been invaluable tools ever since I picked up urban exploration as a hobby almost seven years ago. Despite the fact that most of the used satellite pictures are several months (or years…) old, it’s still a great way to find and pre-scout abandoned places. The Crossbow Hotel looked absolutely fascinating from above… like a giant crossbow with some kind of greenhouse in the lower part of the stock. Hardly ever was I that excited to explore an abandoned hotel! Sadly it turned out to be another vandalized piece of crap…
I knew that I was in for a disappointment the moment that I saw the busted open entrance of the hotel and gigantic piles of plastic cable sheathing – metal thieves had ripped apart ceilings, bathrooms and some walls, graffiti “artists” started to take over some of the rooms still in acceptable condition (leaving behind candy bars with a Best Before date several months in the future!), and your average run-of-the-mill vandal had been there, too. And while the architecture looked really intriguing from above, it was rather confusing on location, featuring some unexpected turns and narrow hallways. Especially the stock part was kind of strange and tough to explain – I recommend watching the walkthrough video at the end of this article to get a better impression.
Sadly there is little to nothing known about the hotel and it features. Located on a small hill in walking distance of a sandy beach, it once probably was quite a nice place to stay at. And while the latest signs implied that the Crossbow Hotel was used as a love hotel (“rest” and “stay” rates…), the whole setup differed greatly from regular love hotels – so I am sure that it was a conversion after the initial regular hotel failed. Why did it fail? I can only make assumptions, but I am pretty sure it has something to do with the not yet mentioned bypass along the beach, built in the 1990s; a source of massive amount of noise and a serious eyesore. It’s easy to imagine how that can ruin a hotel within a season or two – unless you keep the windows and blinds closed, because you only came there to… fornicate. And even then success obviously wasn’t a given thing…

Overall the Crossbow Hotel was just another average hotel exploration with quite a bit of vandalism. No risks like decay, security or mold – but also not much to get excited about…

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One way to find abandoned places is to keep your eyes open and to check out locations that look suspicious – so when my friend Rory saw a dodgy looking sign from the highway, we took the next exit to check out the area behind the rusty metal construction…

Ten years ago we probably wouldn’t have found a way to the place Rory saw, but thanks to modern technology it was rather easy to navigate some small back roads to what turned out to be an abandoned love hotel under demolition. The entrance of property was blocked by heavy machinery, probably to prevent metal thieves from driving right in and loading their trucks. To the right was a regular countryside house, western style – further down the road we saw the actual hotel, already ripped half apart.
Exploring the Japanese home felt kinda strange – the (previous?) owners took most of their belongings, but there were some pieces of furniture and some electronics left behind, plus a couple of random items, like omamori; Japanese charms usually sold at shrines during hatsumode, the first shrine visit of the year (which is also used to dispose of old omamori to avoid bad luck – you see the genius business model!). Overall the house wasn’t in bad condition, so it was kind of a waste to get rid of it, but I guess that’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes…
The far more interesting part was the hotel down the driveway. It had the typical love motel layout with garages on the ground floor and small staircases leading up to the rooms, but a box of matches labelled it as a “car hotel inn” named Regent Hotel – obviously not part of the famous Regent International Hotels chain of luxury accommodations. Although the place once had been a solid ferroconcrete structure, the ongoing demolition made parts of it rather sketchy. Nevertheless we had a closer look to find out what it really was. Thanks to a calendar in the family home we knew that it was most likely abandoned in 2008, six years prior to our visit, and a look at some of the remaining doors proved that it had been a love hotel indeed – the room rates were still written on them. Other than that not much left behind. A gutted and rather disgusting kitchen, a bed frame here and there, one bathtub in a bathroom and trash in the yard; both piled and scattered. There we found more indicators for our love hotel theory, but you gotta see for yourself in the gallery.

Exploring this half-demolished love hotel surely wasn’t a highlight in my urbex career, but it was nevertheless an interesting experience as it literally and figuratively gave us some insight into this strangely fascinating world – and it was a neat addition to regular love hotel explorations, like the one in *Furuichi*. It also was a good start into this urbex day as later on we explored the famous *White School* and the amazing *Japanese Art School*; two legendary locations and true classics in the Japanese urbex world.

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How does a quite dull hotel exploration turn into a pretty memorable story? Add some yakuza!

I often forget where or how I found a location as I do a lot of internet research, basically almost every day, but this one I remember vividly. It was on a regular Japanese blog about everyday life, not one specifically dedicated to urbex. The guy who wrote it did some other explorations, but this apparently abandoned love hotel piqued my interest as I had never seen it before anywhere else before. And he did a lousy job disguising the location as he called the article by the place’s real name, only replacing one syllable with a placeholder – and in the article he mentioned the prefecture it was in. Since the hotel looked recently abandoned I just googled it and within 5 seconds had the exact address, because of course it was still listed on dedicated Japanese websites about (active) love hotels. (I might or might not have labelled one of the photos with the real name… but I won’t mention the prefecture!)

A couple of weeks later the opportunity arose to finally visit this abandoned love hotel in excellent condition. My expectations were pretty high – my source didn’t show many photos, but they were extremely promising. Arriving at the hotel finding access was surprisingly easy as a back door underneath the hotel, right next to the parking lot, was unlocked… which was quite unusual for a love hotel. Not that the door was unlocked, but that there was a rather big shared parking lot. Usually those hotels have individual parking booths, so guests can enter and exit without being seen by others. Anyway, we entered and started to have a look around… and were soon quite disappointed. Not only the parking lot looked like those at regular hotel, so did the rooms. No exotic interior design elements, not even outdated 70s or 80s porn atmosphere. Just regular rooms with pamphlets insisting that the hotel was indeed a love hotel – by presenting the typical room rates (making the usual difference between “rest” and “stay”) and advertising the sale of cheap sexy outfits. When we finally made it to the front desk, it looked a bit converted, like everything else there. Yep, this most likely had been a regular hotel originally, converted into a love hotel years ago. At the time of our visit the original bar and restaurant were used as one big storage room… It was then when one of my friends left the hotel to have a look outside and the other two (American guy, Japanese girl) went back upstairs to check something out. I stayed behind and took photos at the bar area. After a while I started to hear voices, which is quite unusual as we usually explore rather quietly. I couldn’t understand what was said and I remember thinking that I would have to ask my friends to speak English at abandoned places, so it would be clear instantly if they were talking – or some other visitors. (Running into other people at abandoned places in Japan is rather unlikely, running into other English speakers is virtually impossible.) As the voices came closer I realized that only male voices were speaking… only Japanese. So those people were definitely not my friends. Darn! Since they were coming from the part of the building where we entered, they basically cut off my way out. As the voices came closer I saw the first lights from their flashlights, so I hid in an alcove next to a door frame. But they came closer and closer and at one point I had no choice but to leave my improvised hiding place, still hoping that they would be fellow explorers. I turned right and… saw a group of about half a dozen Japanese guys in suits, definitely not urban explorers. My camera still mounted on the tripod I mumbled a quick “konnichwa”, one of the younger guys replied with a surprised “konnichwa” and I headed with quick steps past the group through the door into the rather dark hallway that lead to the other side of the building and towards the exit through a semi-basement. I heard footsteps of one or two people following me into the hallway, but they stayed behind and didn’t say anything while I accelerated my steps, my heart beating like crazy up to my throat.
Right outside the door I met my friends. They had been able to leave without being seen, but also without being able to warn me. I think it was my Japanese female friend who instantly said “They looked like yakuza!” – and my impression was the same, just by the way they looked and the way they talked. We left the premises as quickly as possible, and when we reached the road again, we saw a HUGE black Japanese limousine with tainted windows. The kind of car that costs more than a small house in the countryside, definitely nothing like the tiny ones usually used by real estate agents. The license plate had the number 88-00, which apparently symbolized luck if you are a supersticious kind of person. The car basically screamed “If you mess with me or one of my passengers, WE will MESS YOU UP!!!” – whatever was going on there, it definitely wasn’t a normal sales pitch by a regular realtor. They didn’t even use the friggin main entrance, but came through an unlocked back door in the semi-basement!
All four of us were pretty rattled by those events. Like I said, usually you don’t run into people at abandoned places in Japan, especially not half a dozen guys wearing black suits entering through a back door after arriving in a car that cost something like six-figures USD. For the first time in a very long time we took a real lunch break on an exploration day (instead of the usual sandwich / onigiri in the car), just so we could sit down and relax for like an hour. And then we did what you have to do after being thrown off a horse – we got right back in saddle and continued to explore.
Oh, before I forget: No video tour this week for obvious reasons… 🙂

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