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The relationship between Japan and Russia has pretty much always been either non-existent or full of conflicts – so whoever thought that building a Russian themed park in Japan would be a good idea… probably was a moron with too much money.

When the Empire of Japan acted like the prototype version of current day *North Korea* from the early 1600s till the 1850/60s, it tried to keep out pretty much all foreigners, with the exception of a few Chinese and Dutch, who were strongly restricted in where they were allowed to go and what they were allowed to do (sounds familiar?). Back then most Russian settlements were too far away from Japan to make contact easily as cities like Khabarovsk (1858), Vladivostok (1860) and Magadan (1930) had yet to be founded – and so it was Yakutsk merchant Pavel Lebedev-Lastoschkin who first tried to establish a Russian-Japanese contact 1778 in Hokkaido. He was told to come back one year, only to be turned away again (sounds familiar?). In the early 19th century the Russians tried again several times without success – this time reacting with brute force when the shogunate stalled again; of course without much success. In 1860 Vladivostok was founded, but since it was not an ice-free port, the Russians were looking for a more convenient location and decided to seize Tsushima, an island under Japanese control, located between Korea and Kyushu. At this point the relationship turned really sour, and after being ignored by the consul Goshkevitch, the Japanese asked the British for help, finally forcing the Russians to leave Tsushima. Over the next few decades, Japan gave up its isolation policy and turned from an agrarian state to an industrialized nation; with the massive help of countries like Prussia, the United States, France, Great Britain and many more, of course. The Japanese-Russian relationships on the other hand didn’t develop for the better though, culminating in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05; the first time an Asian country significantly and surprisingly defeated a Western superpower. In World War 2 Japan fought less successful overall – and more than 70 years later, both countries are still arguing over the southern part of Sakhalin and the Kuril chain of islands. According to a 2012 survey, 72% of Japanese people view Russia unfavorably, a number that most likely rose since then, making Japan the country with the biggest anti-Russian sentiments of all participating countries.
So why a Russian themed park in Niigata? Because a banker said so! (Oh… so it was indeed a moron with too much money…)

Niigata Russian Village (1993 – 2003/04) was pretty much the borscht version of the *Tenkaen – Japan’s Lost China Themed Park* (1992 – 1999). Cultural exchange, “exotic” weddings, demonstrations of folk dances, sale of artisan craftwork… and carft beer. Financed with the help of and heavily supported by Ryutaro Omori, then president of the Niigata Chuo Bank, the Niigata Russian Village opened on September 1st 1993 and was heavily expanded in 1994… and then again in 2000 – a year after the financing Niigata Chuo Bank collapsed. The park closed in December 2003 for a winter break and didn’t open again as originally scheduled in April 2004.
The rather remote location of the Niigata Russian Village (6 km away from the next train station, 30 km outside of Niigata, almost 400 km away from Tokyo and therefore out of day trip range) was its downfall twice – first it wasn’t able to attract enough visitors / customers… and then it attracted too many visitors / vandals. Photos from 2008 already showed significant signs of vandalism, in September 2009 the hotel was partly destroyed by fire, and since nobody ever used a fake name for it, the Niigata Russian Village went to hell in a handbasket in record time.

By the time I started exploring in 2009/10 people started rumors about tight security and demolition to prevent bigger masses from trampling through like Siberian mammoths, but at the time I never thought I would ever explore outside of Kansai (hence the blog name, *Abandoned Kansai*) – in addition to that, Niigata is probably the worst area to go to from Kansai as flights are insanely expensive (32500 Yen!) and trains take about 7 hours at a price of 22500 Yen… per direction! 700 bucks for one location? Hell no!
Speaking of hell: As satellite photos more and more confirmed the demolition of the Niigata Russian Village, I more and more regretted that I was never able to take a picture or two of that iconic church that was part of the park; apparently a copy of Cathedral of the Nativity of the Theotokos in Suzdal. Years later, in 2015, I was compiling locations for a three day urbex road trip starting in Tokyo. Of course there are plenty of great abandoned places around Tokyo… but Niigata is in perfect range for a three day trip. Exploring stuff on the way north, heading to the coast after dark, exploring Niigata Russian Village and some stuff on the way south, spending the night in Fukushima or Tochigi, continue exploring on the third day on the way back to Tokyo… Since satellite photos can be rather old and outdated I confirmed that the cathedral was still standing via a quick photo search and added Niigata Russian Village to our schedule – as the first thing on the second day!
Arriving at the Russian Village was exciting and sobering at the same time. The road up to the park was blocked by a massive gate fortified with tons of tree trunks and branches, all held together by barbed wire; signs informing about the start of further demolition work just days prior and the existence of camera surveillance. I traveled 650 km to fail 650 meters away from the church? Hell no! So my buddy *Hamish* and I went on to find an alternative way in, successfully… after a while.
As so often, the reality about the Niigata Russian Village lied between the reports of total demolition and the dozen buildings visible on satellite photos. At the time of our visit the lower area with the village part was pretty much gone already, little more than large piles of rubble and a small monument left behind. The upper area was missing several buildings, too – but the two most famous structures were still there, the church and the hotel. Despite the fact that 80 to 90% of the Niigata Russian Village had been demolished, it was still fun taking pictures there – especially the church was everything I was hoping for… and I don’t think I ever had as much fun in a religious building before or after! Overall for sure not nearly as spectacular as the *Tenkaen* or any of the *New Zealand Villages*, but still worth the detour…

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Giant hornets, large spiders, wild boars, monkeys, deers, snakes, mosquitos, bumble bees, regular bees, rats, mice, cats, pigeons, dragonflies, raccoons… and maybe even a bear – you have to love animals if you want to do urbex in Japan!

Japanese people are very proud of their four seasons and some of them actually think that Japan is the only country in the world with four distinctive seasons – which is ridiculous, because not only are there many other countries with four distinctive seasons, but Japan stretches over a length of about 3000 kilometers – there are definitely not four seasons in Okinawa; and in Hokkaido they are anything but equally spread. Furthermore the majority of Japan is affected by a thing called tsuyu; literally plum rain, but commonly translated as (East Asian) rainy season… bringing the count to five seasons. Living in Osaka, “winters” can be cool and windy between late December and mid-March (hardly any snow, but temperatures can drop below the freezing point shortly, but tend to stay between 5°C and 10°C), while summers tend to be hot and humid nightmares between early July and late September with daytime temperatures reaching 35°C and nighttime temperatures not falling below 30°C for countless weeks in a row. The time between “winter” and hell (and vice versa) is usually really nice though – warm autumns with colorful maple leaves and springs with clear skies and millions of blooming cheery trees. Personally I like spring a little bit better as nature is still slumbering, which means that abandoned places tend to be more accessible and the previously mentioned local fauna is still awakening, too. Well… and then there is tsuyu, the rainy season, squished in between spring and hell, usually starting in early June and ending early July – give or take a week or two. About one month of torrential rain on about 5 out of 7 days a week… and a significant rise in humidity, making urbex not only unpredictable, but also not fun at all for the next four months; including the hellish summer. (And I go from one weekend per month not exploring to one weekend per month exploring… at best.)

Exploring the Crocodile School marked the beginning of tsuyu and the end of my spring urbex season last year, 2015. At first sight it was just another abandoned elementary school, the main entrance covered by a wide green net to prevent animals from entering; flexible and large enough to allow humans to gain access easily. The main area was still in decent condition, despite the fact that there were visible signs of vandalism and progressing decay in the back. While somebody was still mowing the lawn and kept things like the net intact, nobody was able or willing to spend money repairing rotting wood or the partly collapsed roof. At the end of a hallway, close to the nurse’s room, was a (b)locked door – luckily there was a separate entrance available from the outside… and that room turned out to be the highlight of the school. Most likely used for storage and maybe as a staff room, this end of the Crocodile School was packed with all kinds of items – including the name-giving taxidermy crocodile! But of course that was not all. Next to a table saw and what looked like a pottery oven (maybe?) I found a taxidermy turtle, countless pieces of china, several sea creatures preserved in half-empty glass tubes and much, much more…
When it comes to season endings, this was one of the better ones – for sure better than the ending of the sixth season of Lost! 😉 It was the first weekend of tsuyu… and I paid the price for it. It was hot, it was humid… and exploring the *Silent Hill Hotel* on the day before was much spookier than necessary. Luckily it didn’t rain on the morning of Day 2, nevertheless getting up to and exploring the Crocodile School was a sweat-inducing endeavor, rewarded by a beautiful view, an interesting amount of decay and plenty of unusual items left behind.

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Do you like beer? So much that you would like to bathe in it? No, because it sounds like a horrible idea?! If only somebody would have told the last owners of the Kurhaus Stromberg…

The history of the Kurhaus (“cure house”) or Kurhotel (“spa hotel”) in Stromberg began in 1909, when a teachers’ association revealed plans to build a convalescent home in the picturesque small town near Bingen, Germany. Planning and financing took five years (almost everything was a bit slower a century ago…), but on April 16th 1914 the laying of the foundation stone took place. After “the Great War” erupted, construction was put on hiatus, and finally finished in 1921 – mainly as a recreation home for the “Rheinischen Provinziallehrerverband” (that teachers’ association…), but also as a hotel and restaurant for the general public. In 1933 the Nazis took over pretty much all associations, including this one, and only years later the spa hotel became a military hospital. After the even less great war (WW2) and shorts stints under American and French military management, the Kurhotel was turned into a pulmonary health institute for released German POWs. State control continued in the 1940s, but switched from military to civilian use in 1948 when Rhineland-Palatinate’s ministry for social afairs took over… and finally returned the Kurhaus to the teachers in 1953. Turmoil continued as the hotel at first lost money and then was sold to the Deutsches Rotes Kreuz (DRK, “German Red Cross”). In the following year the institution apparently made money and was expanded several times, until it was closed in 1983. After six years of maintenance without being used, the Kurhaus Stromberg was repurposed as a transition dormitory for ethnic German immigrants to Germany, when the Iron Curtain came down in 1989. In the mid-90s the DRK sold the hotel to a private investor, who did nothing with it until 1997, when the Hotel- und Restaurantbetrieb Kurhaus Stromberg GmbH (Hotel and Restaurant Kurhaus Stromberg Limited) introduced the previously mentioned beer spa… The sobering awakening followed in 2001, when the beery dream ended once and for all.
Originally built in a style called Domestic Revival and equipped with a mansard hip roof, the Kurhaus Stromberg is now considered a national heritage site under monument protection – at the same time it suffered from almost a decade of vandalism and 15 years without maintenance, which means that it can’t be quickly demolished, but it’s also highly unlikely that anybody would invest in the rundown building and its ragged garden the size of a park.

Since I focus on urban exploration in Japan, looking for abandoned places in other countries doesn’t have high priority to me… especially as I usually don’t have much time to travel within a vacation anyway. When I’m back home in Germany for two or three weeks per year, I usually explore in the southwestern part as this is the area where most of my family and friends live. The Kurhotel Stromberg looked kind of interesting, but the information I found was contradictive – some said the place was inaccessible, some claimed it was completely vandalized. Well, it turned out that the latter was true. Upon arrival my sister Sabine and I had the place to ourselves, but it took less than half an hour for about a dozen teenagers to arrive – on the one hand claiming to be surprised that the hotel was accessible at all, on the other hand making noise like a wrecking crew. It got even worse after they dragged it some boxes and bags, and it turned that they were trying to shoot an amateur horror movie. I told them that I would shoot some videos and that they might want to be quiet if they don’t want to end up on Youtube, but much like the noisy tourists at *Nara Dreamland* and the *Former Embassy of Iraq in East Berlin* they claimed that they don’t care and that I should just shoot whenever I want…

Both the Kurhotel Stromberg’s changeful history as well as the grand structure with its gorgeous white exterior reminded me of the *Maya Tourist Hotel*, probably the most traditional abandoned place in all of Japan. Both places are pretty much empty and quite vandalized now, both are used for photo and video shoots, both offer a couple of interesting angles, yet both are only shadows of their former glory. It’s a shame what happened to the hotel, but I guess that is what happens to the low hanging fruits. So if you ever wondered why I more and more often use generic names like *Kanto Hospital* or *Japanese Luxury Spa Hotel* – places like the Kurhotel Stromberg are the answer…

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I’ve explored all kinds of abandoned hospitals in Japan – old and new, big and small, wooden and concrete, general and specialized, countryside and in the middle of cities, unfinished and fully equipped, private clinics run by a single practitioner and those with a dozen specialized doctors on staff. But hardly ever have I been to a vandalized, mouldy piece of haikyo crap like the Toyo Hospital…

Walking / driving up to a location is always exciting. Have I really found it? Is it still there? Is it accessible? What condition is it in? All those important questions are usually answered in a split-second – not fully, but 95%. My first impression seeing the Toyo Hospital? “Oh no… Damn!” It was still there and the waist high fence was not really an obstacle, but the vandalized entrance area lowered my expectations significantly. My second impression wasn’t any better than the first: Most of the ground floor of this rather modern hospital had been smashed to pieces – and the upper floors didn’t look that much better at all. Vandalism and mould, mould and vandalism. Here and there I found a couple of items left unharmed, lonely witnesses of former urbex glory, but overall vandalism was the dominating shroud hanging over everything. Yes, vandalism. In Japan! Shocking? A little bit. Vandalism always shocks me a little bit. Surprising? Not at all. Have you seen the photo of the dentist equipment I posted last Sunday on *Facebook*? I am pretty sure that clinic will look exactly like the Toyo Hospital in two years. While I was there, I actually met a handful of Japanese explorers, loud and obnoxious. I quickly made my presence known (to ask them to be quiet as I could hear people outside from time to time – meaning that people outside were able to hear noises from inside), which stopped the running and yelling, but I was really glad when they were gone 20 minutes later; I spent more than three hours exploring that place, although it was not even half the size of the Toyo Hospital!

Exploring the Toyo Hospital took less than 1.5 hours – including the video walkthrough at the end. In the past I’ve spent more time documenting single hospital rooms! (For example at the *Tokushima Countryside Clinic*.) The greyish weather outside didn’t contribute to lighten up the atmosphere and gave the whole exploration a very gloomy undertone… and not necessarily in a good way. There are quite a few places I would love to revisit – the Toyo Hospital I wouldn’t give a second thought even if it would be five minutes down the road…

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Namegawa Island is quite a phenomenon. Every explorer in Japan seems to know about it, every explorer seems to have a high opinion of it… yet apparently nobody has ever been there, because this place is probably the most overrated in all of Japan.

Opened in 1964, this huge zoo and resort at the Pacific coast of Chiba prefecture was a mild success for about half a decade, peaking in 1970 at about 1.2 million visitors – probably thanks to a brand-new train station of the same name opening right across the street that very same year. Unfortunately for Namegawa Island a place called Kamogawa Seaworld also opened in 1970 just 12 kilometers down the road / train line – new facilities tend to beat old ones in Japan, and so the downfall of Namegawa Island began, resulting in its closure more than 30 years later; after the summer season of 2001. The resort featured several indoor and outdoor habitats for animals (including a monkey house and a center for tropical birds), a hotel, a mini water park, a BBQ area, an outdoor stage, several eateries, Polynesian dance shows from 1971 to 1996 for six months per year, and several animal shows with flamingos, penguins and seals. Three years after Namegawa Island was closed, an investor bought it for 42 million Yen; less than 400k USD at the time. Another three years later without any further development, a hot spring well was drilled on the premises, but never put to use – I guess it was around that time, 2007/2008, that all the buildings have been demolished. Interestingly enough I never found any inside photos of the abandoned state – only of the ticket booth outside the now heavily fortified, gated entrance tunnel; all the other ones were either pre-closing or post-demolition.

So why the larger than life image of Namegawa Island? I have no idea, probably because of said impassable massive gate. But over the last decade there must have been several dozen conversations like that:
“Hm… abandoned places in Chiba prefecture…”
“How about Namegawa Island?!”
“I’ve heard about it! It’s huge, isn’t it? But is it any good?”
“I don’t know! Let’s check it out – if we can past THE GATE!”
“Challenge accepted!”
I guess my old *haikyo* buddy *Mike* and I at one point had one of those conversations and put it on our schedule… in part due to lack of alternatives. After walking up to the big bad gate, I quickly decided that I wouldn’t be able to get past it, much to the frustration of Mike – a new iteration of the same old story; worse this time as we were actually pressed for time. It was mid-afternoon at the end of a three day weekend, leaving us with less than 90 minutes as I insisted to be back at the car at 5 to have some wiggle room on the way back to Tokyo. Usually the trip takes less than two hours, but we had to get the rental car back by 8 p.m. sharp and traffic is always a nightmare at the end of a long weekend, especially in the Tokyo area. I hate to be rushed as much as the next guy, but I played the role of the bad guy pushing us through the exploration – which was excellent in hindsight, because we were actually back at the car at 5 and only both made it home on time, because Mike generously dropped me off at a train station before returning the car by himself with about two minutes to spare. Kanto traffic is a nightmare!
Exploring an area of about 500 by 450 meters within one and a half hours is close to impossible, but somehow we made it… once we got past the other spiky gate guarding a slope fortified by barbed wire. Not an easy way in, but easier than the main gate. When I first approached it, I saw a guy in an overall behind it and went back to Mike to abort the mission – luckily this time he won the short conversation, so we gave it a second try and it turned out that the guy wasn’t security, but some kind of metal looter or waste dumper… the kind of people that give us explorers a bad name in Japan. Once we got up the mountain past Mr. Overall we had to pass through two narrow tunnels, one once blocked by a heavy metal grid. Then we had to walk down an overgrown path with a very steep drop to right before running into three bad surprises.
1.) An animal trap – for a large animal, maybe a bear?
2.) The trap and all the roads looked well maintained – signs of security?
3.) Only foundations left of first buildings we saw – neither of us was aware that Namegawa Island had been demolished about a decade prior…
Speaking of bears – the mountainous area was riddled with tunnel entrances big and small, most of them blocked, but every couple of hundred meters there was a cave that would have made a perfect bear’s den. Why all those holes in the mountains? Because, as I assumed on location and confirmed later, this area was used by the Imperial military in an effort to fortify the coastline to prevent an American invasion from the sea. A waste of resources as it turned out, but at least some niche explorers are having a great time now…

Anyway, despite the possible bear and security threats, the exploration of Namegawa Island was rather uneventful und a series of disappointments, as almost all the buildings were gone – if it wouldn’t have been for the hotel’s pool at the coast, the lush autumn vegetation and an amazing sunset, this whole exploration would have been a rushed disaster. Yet strangely enough I can’t say that I hated the experience, despite the time pressure and the lack of structures. There was something special about this demolished resort… something quite assuasive, probably thanks to the calming waves and the beautiful light. Spending three of four hours there to have a look at every cave and concrete platform would have been an unforgivable waste of time, so maybe the unfortunate terms of this exploration turned out to be a blessing in disguise… though overall it didn’t come even close to amazing afternoon explorations like *Kejonuma Leisure Land* or the *Katashima Suicide Attack Training School*.

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Aaaahhh. On some days, there is nothing like a good soak after endless hours of hiking and / or photography. One of the few things that Japan is known for worldwide and that really lives up to the expectations, even long-term, is the bathing culture – but you gotta do it right: Not every onsen (hot spring) or sento (public bath house, which can be fed by an onsen) is a memorable experience! Especially sento can be rather dull places in suburbs or along highways… like the Health Land Yutopi.

The Health Land Yutopi was clearly missing quite a few things. Most of all financial success, obviously. But also an “a” at the end of its name, making it not only a failed business, but also a failed play on words… interestingly enough one of the most common ones in the Japanese language, as yu means water – I guess you get it now: yu, yutopi, yutopia, utopia. Well, the Yutopi turned into a dystopia…
Built in 1996, this public bath charged a 2000 Yen entrance fee, which is quite steep for a sento, given that even well-known onsen with nice views and gorgeous wooden tubs are more in 1000 Yen range. Optional food courses raised the price up to 5800 Yen… which wouldn’t be much of a surprise in an established onsen town, but in a rather generic looking building in the Ibarari inaka? (Inaka means “countryside”!)
Abandoned for at least five years, this location was dead as a dodo. Getting in an out was easy, not just for us, but for the metal thieves who stole all valuables a long time ago, too. While the tiled baths were quite dirty, but in decent condition, the changing rooms both suffered from mold, especially the one for women. Both areas featured a small outdoor area each, quite overgrown now, as well as a sauna and a beauty corner for further upsells; like an oil massage for 4500 Yen. On the upper floor was a bar, a rest room to relax, a “karaoke salon” and the restaurant area – all pretty much emptied out and of little interest.

Overall the Health Land Yutopi was just another abandoned run-of-the-mill sento. In fact, I have been to abandoned hotels with much more interesting baths… and of course to abandoned sento that were bigger and more interesting, for example the *Meihan Health Land*; in that article you can also read more about Japanese bathing culture, if you are interested…

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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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