Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Yamaguchi’ Category

Merry XXX-Mas everyone!

The Love Hotel tinna is one of those locations that are giving me a headache. On the one hand I am happy about every exploration, on the other hand… this was barely an exploration and I have hardly enough material for an article. About 20 months ago I was walking along a countryside road on the way to an abandoned place I was looking forward to explore, when I came across the tinna Love Hotel by chance. Not sure how the rest of the day would turn out I passed without a closer look, but considered having one on the way back. If it wouldn’t have been for the ropes blocking off the car entrance I probably wouldn’t have even realized that the place was abandoned or at least closed.

Two hours later I was on my way back to the train station – and since I wasn’t in a hurry I indeed had a closer look. Entering the premises and getting out of sight was quick and easy, the ropes were more or less symbolic. Luckily the sensors at the entrance must have been for triggering lights back in the days, because they surely didn’t cause an alarm to go off.
The back of the love hotel looked a little more abandoned, but just barely. Each room came with a separate garage – you drove in and shut the plastic curtain to get your car some privacy. The room rates (rest / stay) were written at signs next to the doors – which were all locked. That fact makes this article even duller, especially since I don’t know anything about the history of the Love Hotel tinna. I guess it was abandoned just weeks or a few months prior to my visit, but it’s hard to tell for sure. On the other hand: a lot of westerners don’t know much about love hotel, so here you can finally see some exterior shots. For interior shots you might want to have a look at the two articles about love hotels I published in 2011 and 2012. The one about the *Love Hotel Gion* is all about love hotels in general and how big the business is (a whopping 50 billion $-US!), the one about the *Furuichi Love Hotel* is more about dating in Japan and why some Japanese women were once called “Leftover Christmas Cake”…

And that’s it for this week – Merry XXX-Mas!

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

Read Full Post »

All of the photos I publish with articles on Abandoned Kansai are without any form of enhancing post-production – I don’t even crop them; they either look good or they don’t. Every once in a while I like to play with an HDR tool or two. I wouldn’t call those photos enhanced or improved, I would barely call them photos anymore. That’s why I created a sub-page for them in the background. Today I added ten more of those little artworks to that page. *Please click here to have a look!*

Read Full Post »

When you think of Japan which other country comes to mind?
Probably Korea since it’s a neighboring country and both countries share an inglorious common history. China, of course, a major influence for centuries – from city planning to food. Most likely the United States as no other country had more impact on Japan in the past 70 years. Maybe Germany due to 150 years of more or less intense friendship and a similar post-war history.
Japan and New Zealand? A rather odd combination. Surprisingly *Michael* and I visited not only one, but two New Zealand themed amusement parks while on a *road trip in southern Honshu*. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the *Hiroshima New Zealand Farm*, a closed but not abandoned theme park in Hiroshima prefecture. This time I’ll present you the clearly abandoned Yamaguchi New Zealand Village – same concept, same company, but without the shadow of a doubt a “lost place”; BTW: I really dislike the term Lost Place, which is used for urban exploration locations in Germany – not as bad “Handy”, which is used for mobile phones (!), but nevertheless a term that makes me cringe.

Arriving at the huge deserted parking lot of the New Zealand Village, it was pretty clear that we wouldn’t run into gardeners or other caretakers. The wooden handrail leading up to the entrance area was getting brittle and all kinds of plants grew without any attempt to tame them. Opened in July of 1990 after spending 1.8 billion Yen (currently about 16.5 million Euros or 21.7 million Dollars) the park’s attendance figures peaked in 1991 at 428.000 – in the following years the numbers dropped to about one third of that per annum before Farm Co. Ltd. put an end to it in 2005 by closing the park. Initially the 30 ha (300,000 m2) large New Zealand Village was put on hiatus for up to three years with the intent of re-opening it again one day, but that never happened. I don’t know if somebody took care of it for a while like they do at the New Zealand Farm (which is in its fourth year of closing), but nowadays the New Zealand Village is clearly abandoned…
(Just for comparison: *Nara Dreamland* peaked at 1.6 million visitors a year and closed when the number was as low as 400.000 – Universal Studios Japan in Osaka welcomes about 8 million guests a year.)

Exploring the New Zealand Village couldn’t have been more relaxed. Located in the middle of nowhere Michael and I enjoyed a wonderful sunny day on the copious premises.
The entrance area was dominated by a gift shop called カンタベリー (Canterbury), vandalized, but still stocked with quite a few examples of fake food Japan is so famous for – in this case all kinds of sweets. We found replicas of mini cakes, both Western and Japanese (mochi), all made of plastic and therefore still nice to look at.
In close proximity was the Jersey Factory that produced and sold homemade bronzer… sorry… handmade butter! And pretty much next to this place with a name that has no connection to New Zealand was a huge building that had New Zealand all over the place: Restaurant Rotorua, Newzealand Farm, Kiwi Country. Why give it one name when you can give it three? Or four, since all to the left it said “Main Bazaar”.

This food dominated commercial zone of the New Zealand Village, which overall had way less of a village feeling than the New Zealand Farm, was followed by the wide, open landscape I knew from other versions of the nature themed parks. And I loved it! I usually don’t feel very comfortable in abandoned buildings, but open areas like mining towns and amusement parks I really enjoy (if they are really abandoned), especially on sunny spring days!

What made the New Zealand Village in Yamaguchi different from those in Hiroshima and Shikoku was the variety of strange pedal-powered vehicles. Cars, bikes and really unique constructions – they were scattered all over the park, a plethora of rental… thingies. I took photos of many of them and maybe one day in the future I will publish a special picture set about them.
Another thing that made this installment of the New Zealand parks special (but not in a good way!) was the already mentioned presence of vandalism. It wasn’t “ZOMGWTFBBQ!?” bad, but since vandalism is always uncalled for it was nevertheless sad to see. Call me old-fashioned and naïve, but I like my abandoned places easy to access and naturally decayed. Luckily the amount of vandalism decreased the further we got away from the entrance, so by the time we reached the stables and Sheep House with its museum of 19th century farm equipment and a couple of taxidermy items in the making, vandalism was nothing but a bad memory.

What really bugged me about exploring the Yamaguchi New Zealand Village was the time pressure. Like I already mentioned, this was part of a road trip to the south of Honshu and the schedule was kind of tight. A place like this deserves a whole day of exploring and taking pictures, probably with some hours after sunset for some special photos – a luxury not available to us. So when Michael and I left after 3 hours (which is generous for most places – *Sekigahara Menard Land* I left after about 20 minutes…) it was with a bittersweet aftertaste, amplified by a bunch of beatniks who entered the parking lots just before we left. Us driving away was accompanied by the sound of burnouts in the distance…

(If you don’t want to miss the latest article you can *like Abandoned Kansai on Facebook* – and of course there is the *video channel on Youtube*…)

Addendum 2014-07-11: According to a friend of mine all the buildings have been demolished – R.I.P.!

Read Full Post »

The abandoned Japanese Sex Museum (a.k.a. the Mansion of the Hidden Treasure) first caught my attention in 2009 when I first started doing some research about haikyo on Japanese blogs. Three years ago the museum showed up on two or three homepages; both urbex and more general pop culture blogs. After that it basically disappeared, I haven’t seen pictures of the place ever since. So what happened? Boarded up? Security? Maybe demolition? Since *Michael* and I *were in the area anyways* we decided to find out, especially since the museum was pretty much on top of both of our “Places I Want To Explore” lists.
I guess the abandoned Japanese Sex Museum, along with the *Maya Hotel* and *Nara Dreamland*, was actually one of the locations that convinced me that Japan not only has abandoned places, but that it has some great ones. There are not that many sex museums in the world overall – so an abandoned sex museum is pretty unique! (Although “Abandoned erotic art museum” would be a slightly more correct name for the place now that I know what’s to find there.)

Opened on October 1st 1978 the Mansion of the Hidden Treasure was in business for almost 20 years before it was closed in the second half of 1997. Mansion of the Hidden Treasure is actually a great name since the exterior looks like a massive, old-style Japanese mansion, like a fortress almost. The entrance was guarded by a statue of Daikoku, the God of Great Darkness and one of the Seven Gods of Fortune. Opening hours were from 9 a.m. till 11 p.m. and the entrance fee was 1000 Yen according to a pamphlet that was lying around in an office room. Exploring the place further we found actual tickets with a printed price of 1300 Yen, so I guess the entrance fee was raised at least once during the 19 years of business. Several vending machines near the entrance and the exit offered all kinds of items, for example erotic playing cards and saucy postcards at the price of 300 Yen. One of the trashed rooms had a small stage and nearby we found a sign that said “Nude Show 2500 Yen”, so I guess it’s safe to say that there were live performances at the museum, too.

(If you are easily offended by sexual contents and you nevertheless read this far I strongly recommend to move on to another posting as from now the article will become a little bit more specific – while at no point pornographic I might mention the p-word once in a while and the photos at the end… or dear… well, it’s an abandoned sex museum, of course the exhibits are 99% erotica!)

As you may or may not know pornography in Japan is usually censored due to article 175 of the Criminal Code of Japan which says that people who sell or distribute obscene materials can be punished by fines or imprisonment – meaning that genitalia are usually blacked out, white out or pixelated with mosaic. Article 175 was part of the original Criminal Code passed in 1907 and remains pretty much unchanged till this very day. It was the written manifestation of the Meiji Era efforts to reduce the publication of pornographic materials. Before the second half of the 19th century the shunga, erotic woodblock prints and therefore a type of ukiyo-e, were quite popular – and as explicit as modern western pornography; probably even more imaginative since the shunga not only showed traditional sexual acts, but also sex with animals, demons and deities. Some of them even showed sex with foreigners… And I guess that’s where the worldwide image of weird Japanese porn comes from. Well, that… the used panties vending machines and of course the anime series Urotsukidoji, famous for inventing tentacle rape, creating a whole genre with just one extremely disturbing scene…

With that being said there was no pornography found in the abandoned Japanese Sex Museum – only a couple of paintings (some of them in a special room with black light lamps), softcore photos (e.g. Playboy Centerfolds), a couple of mannequins as well as lots and lots of wooden and stone sculptures; dozens of them, to be accurate. Sculptures of penises, vaginas, combinations of both, couples in the act, buttocks, masturbating animals, priests, deities, demons and whatever you can imagine. In one room there was a forest scene with penis shaped mushrooms. Or mushroom shaped penises. Your guess is as good as mine. It was almost impossible to open your eyes without looking at a phallic symbol.

While two or three rooms were completely trashed (basically the entrance and the exit areas as well as the offices upstairs) some of the exhibition area’s ceiling was quite moldy, but still in good shape. Those huge statues must have been insanely heavy, especially sculptures like the stone penis with a length of almost two meters, and let’s be honest: Who would actually hit a giant stone vajayjay with a sledgehammer or tip over a couple of marble dicks? Even the most ruthless vandal respects those symbols!

Sadly that didn’t apply for the female models. The main exhibits in the last room were stolen (or “taken to security” by some previous explorers…) a year or two ago. One was a wax model of the famous European softcore erotic character Emmanuelle, the other one was a replica of Marilyn Monroe – both presented in slinky poses behind now broken glass. The already mentioned pamphlet / flyer featured photos of both wax figures and they looked pretty amazing. Even more so on the already mentioned Japanese blogs I saw a couple of years ago. When the museum was still open to the public the wax figures were scantily dressed and well-lit behind glass, but once it was abandoned the new visitors had less respect and undressed both Marilyn and Emmanuelle to show lower body parts that were out of sight before – and surprisingly both models were not as anatomically impaired as a Ken doll.
The left behind mannequins on the other hand were exactly that: Rather gender neutral below that waist and more or less what you can see at every clothing store when the clerks redress the shop window dummies. Of course they were all (partly) dismembered and slightly damaged, but they were basically normal mannequins… except for the really disturbing “Sleeping Beauty” one, which had vibrators mutating out of her nipples.

The main challenge from a photography point of view was the fact that 80% of the museum was pitch black, which meant that I had to take every shot with a tripod and illuminate every photo individually with my flashlight; similar to what I did at the *Lost Subterranean Shrine*.

With a sheer endless amount of statues and the time consuming process of taking photos Michael and I spent a whopping four hours at this fascinating location. Like I mentioned at the beginning, we both had high expectations about the abandoned Japanese Sex Museum and they were not only met, but exceeded. This haikyo is without the shadow of a doubt one of the best abandoned places in Japan and it would be a place worth visiting anywhere in the world. I just hope that future visitors will treat the location with the same respect Michael and I did so it will put a smile on the faces of urban explorers for decades to come…

(If you don’t want to miss the latest article you can *like Abandoned Kansai on Facebook* and *follow this blog on Twitter* – and of course there is the *video channel on Youtube*…)

Addendum 2012-09-10: If you liked this article you might enjoy the abandoned *Japanese Strip Club*, too…

Addendum 2012-11-27: I just posted an article about another abandoned Japanese sex museum: *Hokkaido House Of Hidden Treasures*

Addendum 2013-05-09: Two months later I revisited the museum – *click here for more photos and videos*!

Addendum 2014-07-11: According to a friend of mine the museum has been demolished a while ago – R.I.P.!

Read Full Post »

Spring time is long weekend trip time! While Kansai doesn’t have much of a winter it nevertheless can be quite cold, especially when having a hobby involving taking pictures in abandoned places, other places of Japan can be snowed in for months with meters of snow… So when the sun finally warms the hearts of Japan and causes the first sunburn of the young year it’s time to explore places beyond my beloved Kansai – whether it be *Kyushu with Enric* two years ago or Shikoku with Gianluigi last year (a series of articles yet to come…), it became kind of a tradition for me to go on an urbex spring trip with a friend of mine. This time *Michael Gakuran* and I teamed up for a road trip to the southern end of Honshu, Japan’s main island – Chugoku, to be exact, the area west of Kansai. A trip with such exciting places that I decided to start writing about it right away – the last pictures are barely 50 hours old…

At this point I don’t want to give away too much about the locations we visited or which order we visited them in. But there were 8 of them in 3 days. 3 long days I might add, with me getting up at 6.30 a.m. on a Sunday, at 6 a.m. on a vacation day and at 5 a.m. on a national holiday. As I mentioned before: I’m a morning grouch; and by “morning” I mean any point in time which is followed by “a.m.”…

But the trip wasn’t just exhausting, it was also exiting, fun, frustrating, satisfying, rich in variety, surprising, delicious (I finally ate Hiroshima Okonomiyaki in Hiroshima prefecture and bought the best local sweets outside of Kyoto – mikan dango) and insanely expensive.

Why insanely expensive? It’s because at the end of the first day a serious mishap happened to me. We were on our way to a hotel to stay for a night when we saw this huge, blue and white flame at a gigantic industrial plant – probably coke oven gas burning at a cokery. (Addendum 2012-06-11: I guess I was wrong about the gas – Gert from South Africa wrote me: “This couldn’t be coke oven gas burning, because coke gas got a very very hot orange (impurities) or yellow (cleaner) flame. But the flame in the video is actually blast-furnace or corex, midrex, finex gas flame (more methane content in gas).” Thanks a lot for pointing that out! I really appreciate it and changed the title of the video below, too.)
We decided to make a stop to take picture or two and when I got out of the car to marshal Michael I grabbed my bag and I don’t know how or why, but my beloved D90 camera flew through the air and crashed hard to the concrete ground. The body cracked open a couple of millimetres so I could see the insides. Parts of the electronics were still working (e.g. I could use the screen to look at the photos on the memory card), but since the lens mount was part of what cracked it was impossible to take pictures anymore. Mad props to Tokina BTW! The mounted 11-16mm lens survived without a scratch or any other damages as I found out with relief the next day.
Sunday evening past 7 p.m. – of course I was in shock at first, because going on a photo trip without a camera is pretty pointless. So we headed towards the flame to take some picture which I couldn’t do since my photo camera broke and Mike couldn’t do because of the lighting, lenses and passing traffic. So I took the video you can find below the article – it doesn’t fully capture the beauty of the flame, but it will always remind me of the death of my favourite camera so far (I also included the last JPG I ever took with it, even though it wasn’t related to urbex). Back at the car we decided to look for an electronics store, although it was almost 8 p.m. on a Sunday evening. After a couple of minutes we found a shopping mall, but it didn’t have a camera store. The staff at the mall was very nice, telling us where to find an electronics store – but it closed at 8. Michael, who did all the talking since his Japanese is WAY better than mine, wasn’t discouraged by that and asked for the phone number of the store. Although the store was closed Michael called and somebody picked up. He told them my tricky situation and they agreed to let us into the store if we hurry – so I got into a taxi and went straight to the store. There a guy with pretty decent English helped me at the camera department. I was hoping to replace the D90 with another one, but they didn’t have them in stock. A lower model was out of the question, so the only option was a D7000. Which they didn’t have in stock either. Just the display model – which they couldn’t sell me without the kit lens since it was a display model. After some deliberation and the certainty that not buying that display model would mean losing at least 5 hours the next morning looking for another camera (electronic stores in Japan usually open at 10 a.m.) I half voluntarily upgraded from a Nikon D90 to a Nikon D7000. With a bad feeling since I not only spent a huge chunk of money, but I also had to learn by doing how to handle a new camera. While I’m very pleased with how the photos of all locations turned out it was quite unnerving at times to get the shots I wanted to take.

Now just a few quick words about the locations we visited. The undisputed highlight of the tour was the abandoned Japanese Sex Museum. Both Michael and I had high expectations and we were not the slightest disappointed, shooting in almost complete darkness for the majority of the 4 hours we spent there. Another glorious highlight to me was the Kart Pista Hiroshima race track – why it was a highlight you’ll find out soon. Since theme parks are one of my favourite types of abandoned place we visited two of them and I loved them both. 4 world class haikyo in 3 days – plus 2 good ones (a Meiji Era army fortress and a quite tricky hotel) as well as 2 more we took pictures of because we went there and it would have been a waste not to cover them… a strip bar in an onsen town (euphemistically called “theater”) and a car camp site. To my knowledge all of these places never appeared on English speaking blogs, some of them are even unknown to the Japanese urbex crowd. So please enjoy the preview pictures and come back for much more information, photos and about one hour of video material!

Here’s an alphabetical list of the upcoming locations:
Ganne Fortress
Hiroshima New Zealand Farm
Japanese Sex Museum
Kart Pista Hiroshima
Moriyama Auto Camp
Noga Hotel
Onsen Town Theater
Yamaguchi New Zealand Village

(If you don’t want to miss the latest article you can *follow Abandoned Kansai on Twitter* and *like this blog on Facebook* – and of course there is the*video channel on Youtube*…)

Read Full Post »