Rotting Onsen Resort Hotel

By Michael Gakuran | | Haikyo / Ruins | 47 Comments |

Haikyo (ruins) are often very unsettling. The eerie silence punctured only by unknown bumps in the dark. Warped, decaying wood and floors riddled with damp. Such was the onsen resort hotel I stumbled upon recently. Something about this one said I shouldn’t enter alone, so I enlisted the help of a friend…

This is far from my first ruins exploration (better known as ‘urbex’ or ‘urban exploration’). I’ve been pursuing the hobby for over a year now, slowly gaining experience and a backlog of photographs. Nor has it been my first trip with a friend – the great majority of excursions are made with in groups, such as my recent trip with three fellow haikyoists. It’s just safer that way. You never know who you might meet or what may happen.

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This time definitely called for the company of another. I discovered this mammoth hotel completely by chance. It just sat there slumbering amongst the mountainside foliage under a dark sky during a hiking trip I took this Autumn. I hadn’t the time to explore it at that time anyway, but I did poke my head in the door to see what state it was in. I remember quite vividly being greeted with a pitch black corridor stretching ahead of me and a set of hollow guest rooms. As I edged my way in, I was startled by a towering white lampshade sitting silhouetted against the light from a nearby window.

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That was enough to put me off wanting to come back alone. 8 floors of dark, empty rooms and only myself to keep me company didn’t sound very appealing. So I managed to persuade my good friend Lee (not of Tokyo Times) to join me on my latest adventure.

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I had first seen the stuffed deer through the window when I discovered the hotel. It’s what gave me the incentive to come back. Yes, I guess most people wouldn’t travel dozens of kilometres to see a balding, stuffed deer, but hey… It wasn’t the only critter rough-handedly stitched together and left to fester. Even with a fetching conical sedge hat this next guy doesn’t look too pleased, does he?

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Venturing further, Lee discovered a hidden trap door under a loose section of carpet. We both shared a thrill for a moment wondering what may be concealed below. After pushing the carpet away, Lee gripped the rusty handle and tugged…

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Alas, nothing but a couple of feet of cold water. Rainwater perhaps? Hmm… A mystery we had to leave unsolved. (Mental note to bring swimming gear next time). Moving on saw us encounter our lead paperweighty friend Mr. Daruma, sitting idly amongst the various files an the office.

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As you saw above, many of the rooms were still in great condition, with television sets, tables, chairs, cushions and cupboards packed with futon. Most of the floors turned out to be like that – room after room of dusty tatami mats and Japanese-style tables. The lower floor, however, had a rather luxurious bar and karaoke room, painted a vibrant red by the chic seat covers and glass mirrors. Old karaoke books filled with songs and even vinyl disks were left lying around.

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Other rooms however were much more befitting of the title of this post. Sunken floors and rotting tatami mats, rainwater trickling in and doors cracked and fallen. A small refrigerator sat precariously on a section of floor that looked set to give way at any second. The floors leading up to the rotting rooms gradually felt more like wet earth under our feet and groaned ominously with our weight. Needless to say, we didn’t dare step foot in those rooms…

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According to other sites, a body was found at this hotel. ‘The room right at the back of the 2nd floor…’ or so the story goes. Of course, just about every ruin out there inevitably picks up a ghost story or two to go with it, spun out of yarn by bored kids. Just how true this one is unknown as are, rather conveniently, any concrete details. Still, it made me check my photos over again, and I realised the room I shot video in (at the end of this post) was the one at the end of the second floor…

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The kitchen was a rather interesting place. A set of knives carefully laid out, likely by some explorer before us, which had slowly turned a brilliant rusty red colour. And a message left scrawled on a whiteboard leads me to believe that our previous visitors were fluent in English slang…

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Other parts of the kitchen were equally satisfying with dilapidated old hobs and knobs and pan handles sticky with 15 years of grime, which I found out much to my unpleasant surprise. A rather cool box too.

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Other little items littered the floors as well, which we took great pleasure in seeking out. The discovery of a a storage cupboard laden with expired New Zealand beer and coca cola, half-drunk Suntory whiskey bottles and a curious pile of matchsticks. Even letters were to be found…

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Which, should you be thinking, ‘why on earth leave all this stuff behind??’ was the least of it. Offices packed with files and folders, cabinets and documents of all manner have been left untouched for years. A bed with stained sheets and rusty frame was hidden in the back, most likely where the security guard would sleep in the days the hotel was still in business.

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Although I’m completely baffled as to why there was a used shotgun shell lying around in one of the upper floor rooms. Funnily enough, there was also a Wild West style poster reading ‘Dead or Alive’ on the wall of that room.

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Venturing upstairs to the very top floor gave us magnificent views out over the surrounding countryside and a rather smart onsen. Seriously, the atmosphere was incredible. How could a place like this have closed down?

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All that aside, there was a rather seedy surprise waiting for us in the women’s bathroom. Stepping inside around the curious purple glass screen, we found a pile of white tissues. Any guesses as to what was lying there with the tissues..?

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Lovely. With time not on our side and darkening skies, we made haste to round things up, snapping a last few pictures. An intriguing pair of cracked plastic bathroom boots sat breathing on the onsen reception tabletop. This is the kind of natural decay that make haikyo heavenly. Nothing artificial or vandalised about this – just nature doing its work.

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Retracing our steps boldly back downstairs, the place didn’t seem half as scary as when we arrived as we’d explored nearly every nook and cranny. We did some long exposure light photography (see the next post!) and then headed out back to the car, the onsen hotel looming over us as we scurried down the hill.

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Well then. That’s enough chatter from me. Time to sit back and come with me on the journey. Here’s the rotting onsen resort hotel haikyo video!

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Notes:

Approach: Easy – walking up towards a mountain hiking trail, the hotel appears looming above you.

Highlights: Weird stuffed animals, creepy lampshade in the dark, warped, rotting room and long exposure light photography. Steel trapdoor discovery felt awesome.

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What are your thoughts? Have you ever visited old abandoned or ruined buildings? What is your favourite picture here and why? (Photo critique also welcome!)

Finally, be sure to keep an eye out for the second part of this post in a few days which will feature some colourful, artistic light photography taken within the hotel walls.

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Please bear in mind that going to visit ruins is dangerous and in many cases illegal. I take no responsibility for your actions and their consequences. Also, I will not answer requests for information on locations, their names or advice for entering the places I write about for the simple reason that it leads to many of them getting vandalised and sealed up completely. Thanks for understanding.

47 comments on “Rotting Onsen Resort Hotel
  1. Raphael Palmer says:

    You should’ve erased the “F*ck” word out and written “RUN! NOW!”, or “DO NOT LOOK INSIDE THE TRAP DOOR!” or “BEWARE OF THE SECOND FLOOR” instead. It would sure freak the hell out of the next person who went there!

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is a strange looking hotel…

  3. FaronLoren says:

    The recently renovated resort is located adjacent to The North Sounds Club championship golf course on the shores of Grand Cayman’s North Sound Lagoon. Guests can choose from studio, one and two bedroom suite accommodations with high speed wireless Internet access, flat screen televisions, a DVD and VHS player, personal washer and dryer and full kitchen.

  4. IzzyMarcus says:

    It's great that you get to travel so much and see so many interesting places. I am just tired of the New York City hotels and even if this one has stuffed deers, it would certainly be a refreshing change of scenery.

  5. Gakuranman says:

    Mmm, maybe I'll try my hand at fiction sometime :p Used to love writing the stuff, but that was many years ago. MJG does some good fiction no doubt inspired by his haikyo explorations!

  6. Kaxxina says:

    Such good horror movie material in those ruins… you should try to write something using it as inspiration. It would be very cool if you could find pictures of what it looked like when it was still operational. :)

  7. Gakuranman says:

    ありがとう!ぜひ一緒に廃墟探検しましょうね!

  8. nakamura193 says:

    Nice Photo!一緒にいつかurbexしましょう。

  9. Laura says:

    What incredible photos. Absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  10. ladylarajones says:

    Well, I bet it varies from country to country, and I know European Archaeology and US Archaeology can be somewhat different in practice and regulation, but I'm not sure about Asia. In the US a CRM Team (or Cultural Resource Management Team) is called in to do a preliminary survey and will usually try to determine the historic value of a site by digging 'test pits' (or in this case, evaluating if it's safe to do survey in an abandoned building). Instead of having to dig this site since it's all above-ground, it would be handled almost like a crime scene in that things would be mapped out (maps drawn and photos taken as artifacts are bagged and numbered) and their context preserved as much as possible so that a team could work out the significance of all the artifacts found (aka: all the stuff in the building in relation to the people who were once there). The team would probably have a historian or two, a few archaeologists, a geologist, and a few others who would be able to explain and catalog as much as possible about the site. In the US this is usually done by either a Private CRM Company or a State Organization such as a Historical Society. Since this site is an abandoned hotel I'm sure it would normally fall under the jurisdiction of a historical society, but it would be great to see what they figured out about the place and people in relation to all the things left behind and the history of the building and the area.

  11. michaeljohngrist says:

    Yeah, not scared. Go to a lot and you'll prob end up feeling the same way. Now if this was in the uk, I'd probably be more so- worried about junkies or punk kids or whatever.

  12. Gakuranman says:

    Thanks Michael :) You're not in the least bit scared going somewhere alone in the day? Even if it's not dark outside, I often find it's still dark inside and worry about who might be there!

  13. michaeljohngrist says:

    Good post, very thorough, especially I liked the video. It's fun for me to relive through you the excitement of those first few explores, when everything is still quite scary. I guess time has desensitized me cos I rarely feel spooked now. Maybe need to go to more places by night, solo.

  14. Gakuranman says:

    Hey. No forums afaik, but there are plenty of books on the subject! I tend to use those to visit already discovered locations. Just stick 'haikyo' into the Japanese Amazon.co.jp book section and start browsing ^^. Good luck!

  15. Gakuranman says:

    Hey. No forums afaik, but there are plenty of books on the subject! I tend to use those to visit already discovered locations. Just stick 'haikyo' into the Japanese Amazon.co.jp book section and start browsing ^^. Good luck!

  16. Gakuranman says:

    Hey! Thanks for your comment :)

    You can pick up books on haikyo if you search on Amazon.co.jp. Loads of them to choose from, so you'll have no trouble finding ones near you. Alternatively, check out the photography section at the largest bookstore near you to see them in person!

  17. Ady says:

    How do you search for these haikyos? I'm sure there are many around here (in Ibaraki). Would love to explore some day. Are there any forums/clubs for this kinda stuff? And is it only the Gai(koku)jins that are interested in this?

  18. Hey, what's up man. Very inspirational. I used to do this as a teenager in NYC before they totally tore down the older buildings and replaced them with what the more futuristic and high security places they are today.

    I was wondering what part of Japan this is. I live in Nagasaki (Sasebo,) and wondering if it was close, I'd like to venture there myself and see if I can feel any negative energy or find anything interesting.

  19. Gakuranman says:

    Glad you like it :) If you do start, be sure to be careful. This sort of thing can be very dangerous for all sorts of reasons…

  20. Gakuranman says:

    What exactly does a CRM survey entail..?

  21. Gakuranman says:

    Take care if you do :)

  22. Gakuranman says:

    I know… Perhaps at one point in time a resident there had a gun for protection against wild animals? It is in the countryside after all…

  23. Gakuranman says:

    Thanks Lee. It was indeed a good find. Even on the Japanese web I could only find one or two mentions of the place!

  24. Gakuranman says:

    Haha, very true. Especially moreso considering the story of the body found in the hotel…

  25. japandave says:

    Interesting post and great pictures. I did a little of this kind of thing in the US, but I admit I've not even thought to try exploring them in Japan. My wife is gonna be mad at you for giving me an idea… ;)

  26. ladylarajones says:

    An Archaeologist's Paradise! I know a ton of my fellow classmates that would kill to do a CRM Survey on a place like that. It would be fascinating!

  27. すごいビデオ!!!!!

  28. danny says:

    This is amazing stuff! I’ve been trying to think of some new hobbies while living in Tokyo (may or may not have one more year after June) and I may have to start some haikyoing. :)

  29. reesan says:

    Great article Mike and awesome how you just happened across this place. The used shotgun shell is a little weird, I mean, what events could transpire that would result in the used shotgun shell being one of the final remnants of an abandoned hotel?

  30. Lee says:

    Wow, that really was quite a find Mike. Excellent stuff. Those bathroom boots in particular are pure haikyo. As is the porn I guess, although the addition of tissues is a rather unwelcome addition…

  31. *shudder* Aagh, I shouldn't look at these posts late at night! That trapdoor thing freaks me out – the Japanese have too many myths concerning water for me to just see a pool of innocent rainwater.

    I guess this is the sort of place science fiction authors seek out. I'd be too scared, even with friends.

  32. Gakuranman says:

    Good question. I guess I haven't really addressed it yet in my posts.

    There's something exciting about going places you're not supposed to go, findng objects from the past and clues to its history and the people that used to reside there. It's no Indiana Jones escapade, for sure, but the ideals are the same, especially when you make the discovery of the place yourself. There's also the thrill of being alone in the dark, the chilling silence and heightened senses due to fear of the unknown. Something you rarely experience in everyday life and difficult to truly convey by mere words and pictures.

    As for the the decaying part, I find it gives buildings and objects a new lease of life. Seeing everyday household items transformed by nature and occasionally by creative vandals is interesting. It fits in with the 'things you don't see everyday' idea.

  33. Gakuranman says:

    Hey Orchid! Thanks for your comment :) You're absolutely correct that the biggest threat when visiting these places is the buildings themselves. The older they get, the more dangerous they become and wet or crumbling floors are one the primary hazards, as are rusty metal walkways. If this weren't a problem I'd be much more inclined to go alone, but you're right in saying thar having a friend with you is a lifeline. There have been cases of deaths from urban explorers falling through floors.

    I added a touch more history and will continue to update if I find more information, but this hotel is surprisingly undocumented. It isn't listed in the awesome haikyo book I use and I've only found a couple of mentions of it on the Japanese web.

    And the word on the board? Probably so ;) I don't for a second think a foreigner wrote it – I was just surprised as I don't usually see English graffiti in these sorts of places. Maybe the author was the same person who brought the dubious magazines inside (see the matching word on the cover).

  34. Gakuranman says:

    Well Rooty, just for you I'll stick up one of the more medicore shots in the next post of an really old television set I found. I know you love your outdated technology :p

    Thanks for your insightful reasearch too. Keep this up and you can become my official man for background information ;)

    As for dates on expired stuff – yes we did! A little anecdote from our explore: One upper floor room overlooking the onsen town had some rather new rubbish left behind. An empty ham packet, PET bottle and whatnot. Upon checking the dates, we found them to read January 2009, so I imagine whoever decided to have himself a little feast up there was doing so around the end of last year.

    As for the actual museum foods and drinks left behind, my guess is around 1995. The majority of the calenders left behind had dates reading so. The one calender in my video that reads 1971 was found hanging up in the decaying wooden staff quarters which were an annex at the top floor of the hotel.

  35. Gakuranman says:

    Thanks for your comment ^^ There are so many cool objects in these places. Did you see the full Mah-jong sets in the video documentary?

  36. Gakuranman says:

    The water-laden pit under the trap door was quite unnerving. We couldn't really see the whole area under the floor, but it was at least a foot or two deep with cold water. Another trap door I found contained a small access area to the pipes under the floor.

  37. orchid64 says:

    When I lived in the U.S., and was quite a bit younger, I loved old abandoned buildings and walking around in them. They're spooky and mysterious, though I don't believe in ghosts. I think that the interesting thing about the experience is that you look at what you find in such places with an eye toward individual history. Finding an item on the street is one thing, but finding it in context makes you think about the people who used such things, the activities that went on, and how such things were simply abandoned.

    Regarding going alone, one should never go alone mainly because of the structural issues in abandoned areas. If someone gets hurt or stuck, another person should always be along to get help, if nothing else. Can you imagine falling through a floor in one of these places which people rarely go to because they are abandoned? You literally could die from one wrong step as you never know when someone else would show up at such a place.

    One final note about the word on the white board, I would not assume the person who wrote it was an English speaker. Graffiti in Tokyo has that particular word written everywhere. I'm certain that it is juvenile Japanese people (likely males) who write profane English all over the place. They learn bad words in a foreign language, and just write them everywhere because they probably think it's cool. Frankly, I doubt most foreigners are immature enough to get a kick out of writing four-letter words if they are old enough to be in Japan for any length of time. Since the word is written on the cover of the Japanese magazines that you found with the pile of tissues, clearly, the Japanese know it well and see it in their publications. ;-)

  38. tornadoes28 says:

    What an awesome and bizarre haikyo. I love it. I know it is fround upon but I would be strongly tempted to take that cool daruma papaerweight.

  39. Lance says:

    Why are you so interested in exploring rotten, abandoned buildings?

  40. branigan says:

    Creeeeeeeeeepy. Man, I’m surprised you didn’t stumble upon an abandoned well with a monster lurking in it underneath the place….lol.

  41. Sorrel says:

    Ok, at first I was sure those ‘specialist’ magazines shared the title of one of my favourite PC Engine games, 激写ボーイ, however, on closer inspection, I realised it was 熱写ボーイ. Ducky, I know you are a research/smut fiend, so here is the link to their still-active website; http://nb.sansei.gr.jp/site/top.html probably NSFW. Anyway, did you happen to check the dates on any of the expired stuff? My friend Joe has a bottle of expired lemonade in his kitchen dating back to 1996, so I’m hoping you can at least beat that. Oh and next time you are haikyoing, pick me up an old CRT TV! They are murder to find cheap in Japan, and I never did see any of those legendary street corner freebies.

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