Archive for the ‘Sex’ Category

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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Ahhhh, it’s that time of the year again – you know the drill! (Yes, it’s the seasonal abandoned love hotel. Some standard rooms, but lots of interesting ones, too, featuring slut… uhm… slot machines, a pool table, some mini golf holes (!), an automatic mahjong table, and much more… *If you are not familiar with love hotels and want to know more about them in general, please click here.*)
Merry XXX-Mas everyone!

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A lovely love motel and an exciting escape. Merry XXX-Mas!

When I started exploring abandoned places in Japan almost ten years ago I was as curious about deserted love hotels as much as the next guy, yet I found them very hard to find, especially in the Kansai area – so I started publishing them only once a year, around Christmas, thanks to a vibrator hanging in the tree like an ornament, starting the Merry XXX-Mas tradition here on *Abandoned Kansai*. After a while abandoned love hotels became easier to find and now they are almost as common as abandoned schools and tourist hotels. Which means that I can publish the trashed / common ones during the year and save the special ones for this special time of the year. 🙂
Love hotels date back to the “Hotel Love” in Osaka, opened back in 1968 – so congratulations, love hotel industry; happy 50th birthday! You are doing well for yourself (about 40 billion USD in revenue each year!), despite the growing number of deserted establishments and the extremely low birth rate in Japan…
Now, what was so special about the Love Hotel Blossom? Well, mainly two things – its structure and its age. While most other establishments of this type consist of a main building with connected parking, kind of a mix between hotel and motel, the Love Hotel Blossom was a circular arrangement of individual bungalows including small garages. And while I don’t know much about its history, the Love Hotel Blosson actually looked quite old – I found an official document from 1973; which is ancient considering that the first love hotel was founded just five years prior!

The first building on the slightly elevated premises though looked like a regular one-storey home from the same time period, most likely used only occasionally, probably to feed the cat(s) living there. Nevertheless I had a strange feeling and asked my buddy Mark to park the car facing the driveway in the direction down to the main road, in case we would need to leave in a hurry. Then we walked further up the slope to check out the bungalows. Most of them were accessible – and each was different than the other. Exterior, interior, size. There even was a quite large two-storey duplex bungalow, though the ground floor was parking. Exploring this virtually unknown love hotel was exciting, because you’d never know what to get / expect. Most surprisingly the majority of those bungalows were still in decent condition, despite the fact that the road connecting them was basically more or less overgrown. As far as naturally aged love hotels go this was as good as it gets – I haven’t seen anything like it before or since, a truly unique location apparently unbeknownst to the Japanese urbex community (some abandoned love hotels in Kanto are so popular that even overseas urbex tourists find and visit them…).
More than two hours later: We were already sitting in the car again, having a conversation if checking out another location was feasible or if we should call it a day, when a car came up the one line road / driveway. The window on his side down, the driver, a man in his late 60s / early 70s started yelling at us, but drove just far enough to the right that we were able to pass him with a quick swerve to the left – if we would have parked facing the other direction or if he would have stayed just 5 centimeters further left, he would have blocked us completely; not a snowball’s chance in hell for us to get out of there without a longer discussion or worse… And that’s probably one of the main reasons why I’ve never seen this location on any other urbex blogs before.

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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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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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The two deserted Japanese sex museums in *Yamaguchi* and *Hokkaido* were instantly amongst my favorite abandoned places of all time when I first visited them in 2012. They were rare, unique locations, virtually unknown at the time, tough to shoot – far from your run-of-the-mill abandoned hotel smartphone exploration. And while the one in Yamaguchi prefecture disappeared quietly sometime in early 2014, the one in Hokkaido went through quite a bit of suffering before it was finally demolished in January 2015.

*When I first visited the Hokkaido House of Hidden Treasures in November 2012* it already showed some signs of vandalism – graffiti at the main entrance, two open doors, ransacked offices as well as a few pushed over exhibits and some stolen items. From the outside the museum looked rather eerie in 2012 – none of the windows were broken, but it had a really rundown look to it, nothing a person in their right mind would enter voluntarily. 😉
In spring of 2014, less than one and a half years later, I heard word that the Hokkaido Sex Museum was a total piece of trash and barely worth the visit – quite a bit of an exaggeration I thought. Sure, it wasn’t brand-new anymore when I had been there, but how much worse could it have become in less than 18 months? Since I was busy with my own spring explorations and the museum was about 1000 kilometers away from where I live, a revisit had to wait; but when I was able to get a rather cheap flight to Hokkaido for early November I took the chance and headed north. The museum was located in a mid-sized spa town called Jozankei Onsen and in walking distance of the famous and really amazing Hoheikyo Hot Spring, so I took a train from the airport to Sapporo and from there a bus to the countryside; a bus stop conveniently right in front of the “treasure house”. It was exciting to come back to this wonderful location I had so fond memories of, but even before I entered the “treasure house” or had a good look at the building, it became clear that my experience here this time would be quite different from the first visit. Two young women in their early 20s were standing next to their car parked right in front of the museum – one of them yelling something at a guy looking through a window of the upper floor, the yakiniku (grilled meat) restaurant; a broken window, of course, as hardly any of the panes up there was still unharmed. Slightly shocked I headed over to the side entrance, where I found several of the animal exhibits lying outside on the ground, exposed to the weather. Why the heck would anybody do this? And yet this was just the beginning…
Inside, the Hokkaido House of Hidden Treasures looked even worse than from the outside. Windows and showcases were shattered, the several dozen once copulating animals were either gone (for example the tigers) or scattered all over the place – the few remaining standing ones were ripped apart, for example the moose in the second room. The further I walked, the more severe were the damages. The shooting game with the three ladies was severely damaged, the demon and the nude female doll from the Disney window stolen, the on glass painted dinosaurs with the huge manufactured dicks smashed. Sadly the lower floor didn’t look any better. The strip area was ripped apart, somebody apparently threw a cabinet on the woman in the cum shooting game, the huge mechanical penis near the wall under the stairs gone; even the religious statues in the next room were scattered, some probably stolen. The worst I felt for the stallion in the third room – no more hung like a horse… castrated; penis envy to the max!
I’ve been to quite a few trashed places before, and I’ve seen vandalism progressing, for example at the *Maya Tourist Hotel* and especially at *Nara Dreamland*, but this was a whole new level. The Hokkaido House of Hidden Treasures (HHoHT) went from an amazing abandoned photo opportunity to a pile of trash in less than two years – a big building at the entrance of a busy spa town in a country with a reputation for little to no vandalism.

How could this happen?
Well, one of the reasons is probably GoogleMaps. As far as I know they previously removed the names of closed businesses, but then they started to keep the names and just added a CLOSED remark – and even allowed users to add names of places. So if you knew the Japanese name of the HHoHT, you could find it by looking for it on GoogleMaps.
Another factor most likely was the fact that the HHoHT was on the main road in a somewhat busy spa town with thousands of cars passing by every day, especially on the weekends. The building was obviously abandoned… and I am sure once somebody broke the first window of the restaurant floor, the whole place went to hell in a wheelbarrow.
To mention the owner of the museum as a final factor might be a bit unfair as nobody should be blamed when other people trash their property, but in a country where you can keep people from entering by putting up a string of dental floss, whoever was responsible for the building didn’t put up any “Do not enter!” signs and allowed to be both main entrances to be open (to both the museum and the restaurant) – not to mention an unlocked side-door basically out of sight of the main road. During my second visit there was even a third open door… but also a handwritten cardboard sign that theft, vandalism and even trespassing would be reported to the police. The placement of the sign? At the vandalized shooting game IN THE MIDDLE OF THE EXHIBITION! Darn, seriously? After entering and walking through half the building you tell people that they should not do that? If the owner would have put a traffic cone in front of each entrance the whole collection would probably still be in good condition.

Instead it took me two rather well-timed blocks of five minutes to film the revisit walkthrough in two parts as I ran into so many people inside the museum that it was close to impossible to do a one shot walking tour without having people yapping in the background; a total of three groups during my two hour long visit – all of them Japanese, none of them in a hurry. Despite new light sources due to the massive amount of vandalism (including the open door next to the cum shooting game on the lower floor) it was a rather slow process to take pictures at the museum, especially with people running through set-up shots every now and then.
Revisiting the Hokkaido House of Hidden Treasure was one of the most heartbreaking urbex experiences ever. In 2012 I had such a great time there, exploring one of the few remaining examples of a dying Japanese subculture – in 2014 the museum was nothing but a vandalized waste of space. Not a fading reminder of a once glorious attraction, but a slap in the face of everybody being too late to see this wonderfully eclectic collection, compiled by a weird yet somewhat fascinating mind. Two month after my second visit, in January of 2015, the Hokkaido House of Hidden Treasure was demolished. On *Google Maps you can still see the building*. But believe me, it’s gone. It’s probably for the better – and if you want to remember it in its 2012 glory, *have a look here*.

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Sex museums in Japan are dying out. Once there were dozens of them all over Japan, now there are only two remaining: The Atami Sex Museum and the Kinugawa Sex Museum in Nikko; the latter one will close its doors for the last time in a week, December 31st 2014 at 5 p.m. JST, so let’s send it off with a farewell article!

In spring I went on a *road trip to Tohoku* with my buddies *Mike* and *Ben* – and on the way back we passed through Kinugawa Onsen, a small spa town in the mountains of Nikko, famous for the UNESCO World Heritage Toshogu Shrine, dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu, the historical model for James Clavell’s Lord Toranaga in his most famous novel, Shogun. Rather rundown, like so many onsen resorts these days, the town of the Angry Demon River offered a very special attraction, one of two remaining sex museums open for business in all of Japan. We were short on time, nevertheless we managed to squeeze in a one hour stop at this special location.
Opened in 1981, the museum focused on the depiction of the sexual culture in the Edo period a.k.a. Tokugawa period (1603-1868). Artful carvings, colorful paintings, beautiful shrines and several sex acts re-staged with dolls, for example the rape of noble women in a forest or a woman peeping on a couple having sex in an onsen. The last part of the museum was a bit more modern and included a blue movie theater with a tinge of green, a Marilyn Monroe doll on a red couch, several mannequins, a sex shop and a handful of those Ufo Catcher crane machines you might know from regular arcades – but instead of plush dolls you could win toys to make your girlfriend blush.
Usually it is not allowed to take photos or even videos in those sex museums, but I guess it was a combination of its certain demise and the fact that Michael had been there before for scientific reasons with one of his former professors – so we actually got permission to take Pictures and do a video tour. Given the extremely limited amount of time on our hands I filmed a walkthrough right away without having seen anything in advance, which was quite tricky due to countless mirrors and mirroring exhibition cases as well as the uncertainty of what would be ahead of me – luckily no other visitors, so I finished the virtual tour without any unjoyful incidents. Ten minutes later I was back at the entrance and started taking pictures with up to nerve-wrecking 30 seconds exposure time. After exploring two abandoned sex museums in *Yamaguchi* and *Hokkaido* it was extremely interesting so finally see one open for business and I really wish I would have had more time to enjoy the experience – but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do… and we had a rental car to return in Shinagawa, about three hours away without traffic jams, which were rather likely at the end of Golden Week.
Access to the museum was strictly forbidden to minors (you had to be 18 year or older!), given mostly the artful yet graphic depictions of genitals and sexual acts. Interestingly enough all movies and photos were censored with the pixilation Japan is famous for, yet most of the dolls were anatomically correct – so I had to censor one of the photos I took myself, just in case. The rest of them are graphic, too, but in an artistic and / or educational way that didn’t cause any problems with WordPress or YouTube when I wrote about the two abandoned sex museums… and I hope it will be the same this time, too (though YouTube already forced an age restriction on the video, requiring you to log into your Youtube account to watch the video). While not pornographic in nature, the following photos are not safe for work – and if you are easily offended by images like that, I recommend skipping the photo gallery this time, even when you read this article in the privacy of your home. I do not intend to offend anybody, but you can’t write an article about a sex museum without showing some of the exhibits… 🙂

Merry XXX-mas, everyone!

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Old family pictures, dry plate negatives, books with titles like “Avoidances From Sexual Temptation”, a wooden wall telephone that looked like straight out of “Boardwalk Empire”… and somewhere there had to be 90 year old porn photos – my head was spinning!

3 years prior to that slightly overwhelming spring day, I went on a *second trip to Kyushu*. It was my first long-distance solo exploration trip and included amazing locations like the now demolished *Kawaminami Shipyard*, the also demolished amusement park *Navelland* and the wonderful *Ikeshima*.
3 months prior to that slightly overwhelming spring day, my urbex buddy Rory and his wife had helped me locating an amazing abandoned hotel I deemed worthy dumping 25.000 Yen travel costs on, so I spontaneously booked a flight from Kobe to Ibaraki Airport… I had 28 hours in the Kanto countryside and I was eager to make the best of it.
3 days prior to that slightly overwhelming spring day, I sent a message to a Japanese dude I made friends with some years ago on Facebook. Back then he contacted me referring to a girl from Tokyo we both kinda knew. Usually I am very hesitant adding complete strangers to my private Facebook account, but I added him anyway after we exchanged messages for a couple of weeks. I thought he was living in Tokyo, but just before my trip I found out that he was living in the city where I booked my hotel, so I asked him if he was available for a chat on short notice. First he told me that he had to work… and before I was able to answer he wrote that he would really like to explore with me – so he changed his working schedule and offered to pick me up at the airport with a friend of his. Positively surprised by the kindness of that stranger I told him about the locations I intended to visit, but that I’d be happy to be guided, too, as he knew the area a lot better than I did.
When I arrived at Ibaraki Airport, Y. welcomed me like an old friend (“Long time no see?!” Heck, we never met!) and his buddy J. was super nice, too. We went to his car and Y. started driving, so we did the obvious, chatting about urbex. He had great stories, I had great stories and all of a sudden he was like: “First stop: red villa!” And I was just thinking: “The old photographer’s house? The guy who had amateur porn on glass plates? THE 2013 urbex hot spot? A place people didn’t even hint about on the internet for a very, very long time?” Since Y. kept insisting that we met before, I just had to break it to him, as I didn’t want to take advantage of the situation: “Dude, I am terribly sorry, but we never met before! You added me on Facebook a while ago, we chatted about urbex because we have that common acquaintance I haven’t even met in person, but I’m afraid that’s it…” Instead of driving me back to the airport he said:
Y: ”You’ve been to Kyushu, right?”
F: ”Yes, I went there three years ago!”
Y: “Me too!”
F: “Oh, that’s great! Where did you go to?”
Y: “The Kawaminami Shipyard!”
F: “Amazing place, wasn’t it? Too bad they demolished it…”
Y: “Yeah, we met there!”
F: “I met people there…”
Y: “That was me and my friend Ben!”
F: “Wait a minute! I remember meeting a Japanese dude and his friend Ben!”
Y: “That was me!”
F: *blush*
Check out my article about the *Kawaminami Shipyard* from three years ago! I even wrote the following line: “The guys turned out to be Ben, an English teacher from Otsu in Shiga (close to my current home), and his Japanese friend from Kanto.“
Have I ever mentioned that I am bad with both names and faces? A truly horrible combination – but Y., J. and I had one of the best laughs ever… on our way to the amateur pornographer’s house! 🙂

Upon arrival, Y. indicated that we should keep a low profile. We were as countryside as it can get in Japan – and we stuck out like a sore thumb anyway, so no need to attract extra attention by being noisy. We walked past small houses and fields until we reached a bamboo grove. The path lead down a gentle slope… and there it was, the photographer’s house. Or rather estate. In addition to the main building, there were two or three side buildings, all of them about 100 years old according to the word on the street. Y. had been here before several times, but for J. and I it was the first visit. Since parts of the main building had already collapsed and the rest was in questionable condition, Y. guided us a bit. The first floor alone could have kept me busy for hours, with all the old photos, dolls, books, furniture and exposed parts of century old construction, but after around 20 minutes Y. called me upstairs; where I had another 30 minutes to take photos of a mind-blowingly gorgeous balcony, old magazines and newspapers, books and dry plates – Y. was kind enough to play hand model.

This was actually my first time in the 4.5 years that I do urban exploration to explore with a fellow Japanese explorer (not just say Hi at places when I coincidentally meet them…) and it seems like they are in more of a rush than I usually am. Nevertheless it was a great experience to explore the Japanese Vintage Pornographer’s House, though we didn’t even try to enter any of the other buildings and the closest we came to find porn was a printed nude drawing in a newspaper. In spring of 2014 the place already had severely suffered from vandalism (despite the obviously pretended secrecy) and it seems like somebody either thoroughly hid or even stole the porn dry plates – and after the really rainy summer this year I am sure the condition of the building hasn’t become better, considering the holes in roof and subsequently in the the ceiling. As great as the place still was, it was sad to see how much it suffered from spray paint, aggression, staging and most likely theft. In the past couple of years Japan had been an urbex sanctuary, but the Japanese Vintage Pornographer’s House is a prime example that the current trend goes to European and American conditions – where you have to rush to new discoveries as quickly as possible, before hordes of people from all over the world trample through and damage or even destroy the atmosphere…

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If you are a regular reader of Abandoned Kansai, then you know that sometimes it takes me years to write articles about locations I explored – and I apologize for that! Today I’ll try to change it up again and write about my trip to Tohoku before it even ends; “Instant Article”, so to say.

Currently I am sitting on a Nozomi Shinkansen from Tokyo to Osaka, and what better way to use those quiet moments than to reflect a little bit on the past five days? (Sleep! But who needs that?) I also realized that I haven’t written yet an article for this week’s update, and since the photos of this trip are basically all I have with me currently… here we go! 🙂

It’s been a while that my old *haikyo* buddy Michael and I went urbexing in *Hokkaido* together, 1.5 years to be specific, and we were talking about going on the road again for quite some time now. Since we are both living busy lifes in Japan, it was a matter of coordinating and allocating days – and the period of choice became the second half of Golden Week, the most miserable travel period in Japan as even the laziest couch potatoe decides to help clogging up trains and highways, if for no other reason than because everybody else is doing it. As for where were to go: Michael suggested Tohoku, to which I hesitantly agreed – since Tohoku is a pain to get to from Kansai, I basically only knew the most famous urbex locations there, and I was aware that there was a lot of driving involved. Michael was, too – one of many reasons to bring his friend Ben on board, another interesting fella from the UK, who was a great addition to our former team of two!

The plan was to visit Kejonuma Leisure Land and the Wagakawa Water Power Plant on the way north, where we wanted to explore the three big Tohoku mines Matsuo, Osarizawa and Taro – plus some minor places along the way. While the Leisure Land was nothing but amazing, the water power plant turned out to be a colossal waste of time; to get inside you have to cross one of two nearby rivers on foot, which can be done rather easily in late summer… but not in spring, when the melting waters of the surrounding mountains rush through. The three mines on the other hand were extremely interesting and quite different from each other. Each one of them deserves at least an own article, maybe even more. Sadly most of the additional side locations were cut for different reasons, except for the Naganeyama Ski Jump, for which my fellow explorers didn’t even want to leave the car, and a locked up school in Fukushima prefecture. What made this trip real special though, was the fact that we were able to visit one of the few remaining open sex museums in Japan, which was quite an interesting experience after exploring two abandoned ones in the *south* and in the *north* of Japan.

Living in Osaka and being spoiled by the incredibly high level of food quality there (Osaka is usually referred to as Japan’s kitchen, while Kansai in general is considered Japan’s birthplace) I was surprised to experience that the Tohoku area doesn’t even come close to that. While I only had less than five bad meals in more than seven years living in Kansai, I don’t think I had a really good one during the whole trip; except maybe lunch near the sex museum, which is in Tochigi prefecture and threrfore not Tohoku anymore. At the Osarizawa Mine, mostly a tourist attraction now, I had a tonkatsu burger (deep fried pork chop burger) with gold leaves… and even that was barely eatable despite the allmighty „even a bad burger is still good food“ rule. Most restaurants on the way though were serious disappointments.

Overall it was an exhausting trip with up to 7 hours of driving per day (altogether Mike and Ben drove 1946 kilometers, most of it on days 1 and 4, when we were getting to and from Tohoku) and less than 6 hours of sleep per night in average; which isn’t that bad, but not enough when doing a dangerous hobby like urban exploration. Although we were very careful, all three of us had more or less minor accidents – luckily we all got away again without any serious damage. (Except the one to the wallet, as everything gets super expensive in Japan during Golden Week…)

Sadly I won’t be able to publish these lines from the Shinkansen, so there will be a gap of at least about an hour between me writing and you reading this article, but I hope you’ll enjoy this quick write-up nevertheless. In the upcoming weeks I’ll publish half a dozen more detailed articles about this road trip – and I am sure some of them will blow your mind! I saw only a handful locations in the past five days, but almost all of them were spectacular must sees. Here’s an alphabetical list, followed by some photos:
Abandoned Japanese Cinema
Kejonuma Leisure Land
Kinugawa Onsen Sex Museum
Kuimaru Elementary School
Matsuo Mine
Naganeyama Ski Jump
Osarizawa Mine
Taro Mine
Wagakawa Water Power Plant

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