The Maya Hotel

The Maya Hotel sits on a high ridge in the mountains overlooking the city of Kobe.  Built in 1929 originally for patrons of the nearby Maya ropeway, the building endured calamities randing from aerial bombardment during the Second World War to typhoons and of course the Great Hanshin Earthquake.  It was abandoned and partially rebuilt more than once before its final closure a little over thirty years ago.  Since then it has become something of a rite of passage for many Haikyo enthusiasts, even featuring in this rock music video.

The hotel boasts a number of quite striking interiors, including the famous green room with its solitary table and chair, not to mention a quite spectacular view of the city and ocean below.  Everywhere, leaves and thick vines seemed to pour in from outside as if to reclaim the space.

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Abandoned Government Building

After a thorough search of the interior of the old onsen we headed back to the road and took a short bus journey to our second location.  As Florian finally began to open up about where we were going I realized it was a site I had seen before on a number of Haikyo blogs – an apparently disused government building sometimes called the ‘Institute for Labour Research’, although my guide was skeptical that anyone really knows what it was for.

Set back a little from the main road, the site is surrounded by trees and dominated by an unusual structure at the centre resembling an air traffic control tower.  In front of the entrance is a large circular opening above a vehicle entrance.  All entrances were sealed off with metal sheeting topped with barbed wire.  There were no signs on display and no obvious clues as to its purpose, although it was clear that someone had been coming to cut the grass and maintain the grounds.

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With Florian keen to stress that he didn’t ‘do infiltration’, we contented ourselves with a thorough examination of the exterior.  Balancing on a wall and peering through the windows to the left of the entrance I was able to see heavy boxes of files stacked almost to the ceiling.

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To the right of the main structure and through thick bamboo, I was able to scale one of the walls and gain access to the roof.  From there I could get quite a good view of the internal layout as well as a nice view of the surrounding mountains.

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I would have loved to drop down into the overgrown courtyard area but decided against it as I wasn’t entirely sure I could have climbed out again!

Many thanks to Florian at Abandoned Kansai for letting me tag along for the day.  Full gallery here.

Abandoned Hot Spring

My introduction to urban exploration in Japan came in November of last year when I was lucky enough to be invited to tag along with Florian, the man behind the outstanding Abandoned Kansai blog, as he revisited two locations to the south of Osaka.

We were already on a bus winding its way into darkly wooded hills when my guide told me our first destination – an abandoned onsen he cheefully referred to as ‘the deathtrap’.

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Entering through an unboarded second floor window, we passed through a heavily vandalised tatami room and down some rickety stairs, past a bathroom that has collapsed into a sheer, three storey drop into a corridor of what must have been guest rooms.

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On the next floor we found a small kitchen and sunken reception area.  Items were strewn everywhere, many of them still intact.  I had to climb down a completely gutted staircase and through a hole in the wall to get to the baths underneath.

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Click for full gallery