Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

After presenting some really spectacular locations over the last couple of months (and thanks to the surprising success of my *Worst of Germany 2013* article), it’s about time to get some real urbex disasters out of the way – quantity rather than quality!

The first item on my list was not really a disaster, it was more of a roadside attraction not really worth its own article. I was strolling through a nice little coastal town with the usual array of canals, when out of nowhere I saw this abandoned boat right next to the street. There must be thousands of abandoned boats all over Japan, most of them made of wood and rotting away, not even worth taking a photo of, but this one intrigued me for some reason; and that reason probably was the Japan Pro Bass Tournament Association sticker on the side…

A week later I went to the mountains to have a look at the Minoh / Minoo Cable Car. While the upper station was on the back of a hotel and therefore inaccessible, the lower station was… pretty much dead, too. Even in February there was little more left to see than some concrete steps and the partly overgrown track. BOOOOORING!

Even worse was the demolished Ropeway Station I saw in Wakayama City. Or didn’t see, as it was demolished. The lower part was completely gone, the upper part had a few remains, like a slab of concrete on top of a hill and some small square foundations on a slope. What a waste of time!

In May, after a *disastrous Golden Week*, I went to Oita prefecture on Kyushu and stayed the night in Oita city – in the morning I fully realized that the JR station was in the process of being renovated, making part of it look as if it was abandoned. Nothing special, just a few snapshots.

A week later I made a stop in Onomichi on my way home from the rabbit island *Okunoshima*. Onomichi Castle has no historical relevance as it was built in 1964 as a tourist spot – and closed in 1992 due to lack of interest. (Even the official city guide recommends a castle three islands down the Shimanami Kaido, a road connecting Honshu and Shikoku with a set of bridges.) In the two decades since then the surrounding garden has been completely overgrown, but it is said that the castle was welded shut anyway – but it looks kind of cool, especially from the distance.

Just hours later I laid eyes on one of the strangest construction in all of Japan, a country with plenty strange constructions: the Uzushio Tourist Building. Little is known about it – some say it was a small hotel, others that it was a tourist restaurant; maybe it was both over time. Now it is partly burned out and a deathtrap, used by locals to collect recyclable waste. Since time is not recyclable I guess the joke was on me.

The next two flops I had to go to Germany for. First I spent rainy 30 minutes at the Munitionsdepot Dachsenhausen (Ammunitions Depot Dachsenhausen) and then a couple of days later another 5 minutes near the equally rainy Haus Hundseck, an abandoned hotel. While the ammunitions depot was mostly demolished and just in general a miserable place, the Haus Hundseck could have been an interesting exploration… if it wouldn’t have been for the hundreds of people who gathered in the middle of nowhere for some sporting event. My chance of entering the Bates Motel like construction without being seen? Absolutely zero! (BTW: Haus Hundseck has been mostly demolished now as I found out when I tried to give it another chance this summer…)

In October I revisited the *Tuberculosis Hospital for Children* with my dear friend *Michael Gakuran* – and since we had some time at the end of the day we rushed a revisit to my first abandoned hotel ever, the *One Dragon Hotel*. I only took a couple of crappy photos, but I also finally did a walking tour there – hence the video at the end of this article.

Next flop stop: an abandoned company retreat in the Rokko Mountains, the Concept Rokko Lodge – those vacation villas were quite popular during the 80s real estate bubble, now hundreds of them all over Japan are abandoned. Sadly I came a couple of months or weeks too late in this case. The Concept Rokko Lodge was gone and so was I after I took a dozen photos of the few remains.

In early November I went to Nagano prefecture for some fresh air. It was the furthest to the east I went in the past 12 years and for some reason I wasn’t really motivated to do urbex – instead I rather enjoyed the beautiful weather.

My first stop was *another abandoned North Korean school in Japan*, just half a year before *I actually went to North Korea myself*. I took some photos over and under fences, but the Chongryon School in Matsumoto was in a residential area. Dog walkers were passing by every other minute and the school looked completely vandalized – not worth risking a police operation…

A couple of hours later I was standing in front of the gigantic Shinshu Tourist Hotel on a gorgeous autumn afternoon. All staircases and roads to the hotel were either torn down or filled up with rubble – there might have been a way in, but why risking a broken leg and breathing moldy air when I could climb a mountain and breathe fresh air?

On the way to the top I came across the Joyama Miniropeway, a small ropeway station on a steep slope, abandoned in 1992 due to maintenance costs.

Right next to it I found the Japanese History Hall, probably a study center. The building complex was completely untouched and thoroughly protected from vandals as well as nature, so I didn’t even try to find a way in; would have been pointless anyway.

Three weeks later I met Michael again, this time in *Hokkaido for our epic long weekend trip*!

The first flop of the trip was the Showa-shinzan Tropical Plant Garden, a greenhouse once powered by the volcanic lava dome Showa-shinzan – now abandoned. The administration building with its fully stocked gift shop looked like it was protected by a force field, while the hothouse clearly showed signs of damage; probably by snowfalls and broken branches.

Next we saw a small sliding house near the *Sankei Hospital* that was damaged by the same events that turned the clinic into one of the spookiest places I’ve ever been to.

On the next morning we visited a place that I marked down as the Sapporo Art Village, but it looked more like an abandoned research facility. Whatever it was, it was inaccessible.

Also inaccessible was the Sapporo National Sanatorium, a huge closed hospital. Yes, closed. Closed and secured. By tight construction site fences several meters high. In the back I was able to take a few photos of tightly locked huts across the fence, but it was getting dark and not worth the risk, especially since the site looked like it was visited by people on a regular basis.

In 1987 Advantest, the famous Japanese manufacturer of semiconductor testing equipment, built a research facility near Sapporo – now the Advantest research facility is abandoned. All the ground floor windows, doors and shuttered were sealed tight, but the first floor saw some damage, so I guess mold will sooner or later take over and make this building another case for a demolition unit.

And that’s it for this week – lots of places, barely any good stories. But stay tuned, more world-class abandoned places will follow soon!

(*Like Abandoned Kansai on Facebook* if you don’t want to miss the latest articles and exclusive content – and subscribe to the *video channel on Youtube* to receive a message right after a new video is online…)

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Believe it or not, I am really not a fan of April Fools’ jokes – probably because I equally don’t like lying and being being lied to, which is really tough sometimes in a country that glorifies being a two-faced bastard with the term “honne and tatemae”. Nevertheless I couldn’t resist coming up with my own April Fools’ joke yesterday… 🙂

It all began in late 2013 when I was writing and scheduling the articles about my *second trip to North Korea*. I had to spread them out in a way so I would be able to publish the next regular urbex article on a Tuesday, because I pretty much always update Abandoned Kansai on Tuesdays – and that’s when I realized that April 1st would be on a Tuesday in 2014, too. At around the same time I found out that *Igosu 108* had been dismantled in autumn of 2013 and that it was shipped to Vietnam to be rebuilt there. But… what if it would have been *Nara Dreamland* instead of Vietnam? So I wrote the first draft of my April Fools’ joke story.
The piece was resting for months until coincidence helped me bringing it to a whole new level. Some weeks ago I found out that on January 31st the Nara Shimbun wrote a story about Nara Dreamland being foreclosed, because the current owner “Dreamland” owed the city 650 million Yen in taxes, that negotiations about tax reductions failed and that neighbors opposed the city’s idea to buy the property and build a crematorium. All of this is actually true – it’s just that Dreamland still owes the money as the auction hasn’t happened yet. So I updated the article by incorporating those new facts.
Since I tend to write or at least polish articles last minute, I went over it again just before I published it, adding some details you might have or have not found interesting. The company’s name for example, Nara Dreamland: The New, is a reference to “Biohazard: The Real” a.k.a. “Resident Evil: The Real” – a haunted house style attraction at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka. Not only is it extremely bad use of English in both cases, but USJ is one of the reasons why Nara Dreamland had to close. The CEO’s name, Katsuhiro Yuenchi, is a combination of the real first name Katsuhiro and the Japanese term for amusement park, Yuenchi. Japanese business years indeed usually start on April 1st and most outdoor water parks here are in fact open for only two months, completely ignoring that it is hot enough to make money from at least June till late September. Of course I really asked Japanese friends to write letters to the owners of Nara Dreamland to get permission to take photos there, maybe even to interview somebody – still no answer though… Oh, and the article ends with a quote from Vanilla Sky, one of the few Hollywood remakes I liked better than the original.

As you can see, most of the article is true, and I guess that’s one of the reasons why so many people believed it. I am actually quite flattered by that fact, because it makes me believe that I enjoy quite a bit of credibility out there on the interwebz. And I hope I didn’t jeopardize it with my little joke. (I even waited till 10 p.m. Japanese time to publish yesterday’s the article, to make sure that it would be April 1st in most countries in the world – I could have posted it at 0.01 a.m. Japanese time, still March 31st in most Asian countries and in all of Europe, Africa and America…)
On the other hand I have to say that the April Fools’ joke about Nara Dreamland turned out to be one of the most read articles I have ever written – because people happily spread the word. *My posting on Facebook* was seen by three times as many people as I have subscribers there! Usually about 40% of my subscribers see my postings, which already is a lot more than the 6% Facebook average that we all read about in the media recently. 300% vs. 40% vs. 6% – so please keep Liking and Sharing stuff, if you think Abandoned Kansai is worth supporting! On Facebook and Twitter, by posting links on forums, in comment sections or by sending them to friends. I really appreciate it – and I really don’t like making up big stories to get attention…
By the way: April 1st will be a Tuesday again in 2025… so be careful when reading Abandoned Kansai in 11 years! 🙂

Oh, and since the sour was actually the April Fools’ joke, I’ll give you lots of sweet this week! The gallery below consists of previously unpublished photos I took at Nara Dreamland plus an exclusive one photo preview at tomorrow’s article about another abandoned Japanese amusement park you probably haven’t heard about yet!

(For all your Nara Dreamland needs please have a look at the *Nara Dreamland Special*. If you don’t want to miss the latest article you can *like Abandoned Kansai on Facebook* or subscribe to the *video channel on Youtube*…)

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The previous article and the upcoming one couldn’t be more different. To the left you can see an abandoned Japanese sex museum – to the right is a travel report about North Korea, a country that prohibits the import of pornographic material and that has a long and painful history with Japan…
The reason why I write this intermission is to get a little bit of a distance between to two articles, just a few clicks or a couple of lines to scroll. I am very well aware of the fact that I might offend some people with the rather explicit photos of the previous post – and probably as many with the political dimension of the next one. Nevertheless I hope that at least 99.9% of the Abandoned Kansai readers are open-minded and worldly enough to appreciate both topics.
Enjoy! 🙂

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Google launches Google+ – and Abandoned Kansai finally has a Facebook page… If you like this blog even just a little please *click it here* to like it on Facebook, too.

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It’s a weird situation. Here I am, living in Japan, writing a series about Chernobyl 25 years after the catastrophe – while the nuclear power plant in Fukushima is getting out of control. I actually don’t have anything to add to the discussion as the media and their experts are all over the topic anyways. But since I got many, many messages, not only from family and friends, but also from readers of this blog, I just wanted to say that I wasn’t affected by the quake directly and that my thoughts are with the people suffering from the aftermath of this disaster – especially with everybody involved in trying to save Japan and the rest of the world from another nuclear catastrophe.

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I guess a Twitter account is kind of a must have nowadays when writing a blog – so here’s mine: http://twitter.com/AbandonedKansai

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Living in Japan days off are a valuable thing. And long weekends, even if they are only three days long, are a perfect opportunity to go on vacation.
This time my buddy E and I went to Kyushu to enjoy some days of photography, food and haikyo. Fukuoka, Nagasaki, Sasebo. Not everything went according to plan, we had to cut down the haikyo locations from four to three, but in the end the trip turned out to be great. Great food, great locations, great comradeship.
This posting is accompanied by photos that are not necessarily haikyo related – the haikyo locations deserve three postings of their own, so please keep coming back for more. One of them will be about the Shime Coal Mine, one about the Katashima Training School and the last one… well… it will be about Gunkanjima, the most awesome ruin complex in Japan.

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Well, kind of. Sort of. It had to happen sooner or later, but finally I got caught by a pitbull like person during one of my explorations.
First of all I have to say: It was my own fault. You always risk getting caught by somebody when doing urban exploration as it is technically trespassing. (I guess…)
But most places are far from civilization and closed for monetary reasons, so nobody really cares – only a few owners hire security and that’s when it gets risky.
I enjoy urban exploration because I like old things and photography. I’ve studied history and I take pictures to keep the memory about those places alive. I don’t destroy things and I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings or property. I just come, take pictures and go – and publish the photos on the internet so other people can enjoy those places, too. If somebody doesn’t like that then just tell me, I delete the memory card of my camera and go home. No problem. I’m not a troublemaker.
Recently (well, very recently…) I went on a haikyo trip and while I was taking pictures minding my own business a guy in a white minitruck almost ran over me. I ignored him making my way towards where I entered (trying to avoid trouble…), but of course he jumped out his car and ran after me. He yelled at me in a strange mix of Japanese and English: What I was doing here, that this was his place and that I should be quiet – and of course he threatened to call the police, like, in every second sentence. Totally puzzled I tried to calm the guy down, but he got right into my face yelling like a mad man. He didn’t get violent, but he clearly was in a big rage. He asked me where I was getting in – I told him that I would show him and slowly went to direction I came in, away from his car, but he stopped me.
He demanded my camera. I didn’t give it to him. Then he wanted my memory card. I didn’t give it to him either, but I apologized (several times at different points in the “conversation”…) and offered to switch the camera to Japanese so he can see that I will delete the pictures. (Which I gladly did since I wasn’t there alone and actually took pictures of a friend – who, to my joy, escaped and with him the pictures he took.) But to my surprise neither the apologies nor deleting the pictures did calm him down. He still wanted my name (surprise, I didn’t tell him), threatened to call the police and demanded that I would go with him in his car. At that point he turned his back to me walking a few steps towards his car – and I ran. I ran like I was never running before in my life. Then I jumped over the next fence (since he was in a car…) to a public street and got away without looking back once.
Like I stated earlier: I shouldn’t have gone to the place I went to and there is no discussion about that. But there are several ways to handle things. One is to be calm and talk to each other like civilized people – or you can go ballistic, yell, threat and treat the other person like shit… Too bad Japan took over two things from Prussia without changing them in 150 years: Medicine and the way to deal with people – to crawl the bigwigs and to bully the underlings. And it seems like trespassing foreigners are kind of the definition of “underlings”…
(BTW: Did you know that “doctor” and “butcher” are the same word in Japanese? Okay… that’s not true, but it could be! Should be…)
Addendum 2010-02-07: Now that I think about it… I actually ran into security twice before. Once at the already posted Koga Family Land, another time at the Osaka Expoland. But I never felt “busted” or even unpleasant, most likely because on both occations there was no yelling or threatening involved. The guy at KFL was nice and I left “his” property according to his wishes to find another way to get to my goal. The other guard I met was actually super nice – and he had every opportunity to not let me leave. I guess overall Japanese security people are not that bad. Nice guys: 2, Pitbulls: 1…

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