The Hotel Royal or Hotel Yui in Chiba is a ruin with a particularly dark history. After unsuccessful days as a love hotel, then a restaurant-slash-Hotel this establishment fell into disrepair, then became used for other purposes. Namely desperate people came here to die and most famously an innocent schoolgirl was kidnapped and eventually strangled here by a group of young miscreants. All of which has made the ruin famous in the local area for all the wrong reasons. According to internet folklore the ruin is so popular amongst ghost hunters that (and I paraphrase) “people queue up outside the hotel at midnight to listen to the ghostly screams inside”.
Michael John Grist has been to some creepy ruins in his time, and for this particular haikyo I was glad to have some company. Mike was kind enough to take care of driving duties on the day, and after an early start we found the hotel in no time.
The sign on the main tower was missing, and it was slowly being swallowed by undergrowth … but there she was. Good as old. On the ground floor all of the doors and some of the walls had been taken out, making it a significantly less creepy open-plan exploration. No-one seemed to be around, so we were safe for the time being. What’s left behind … the photos and the small pieces of people’s lives is really what makes these experiences for me.
There was more rubble than anything else on this level unfortunately, while the odd artifact remained… karaoke cassettes, drinks menus and the comically massive ‘smaller office computer‘. Childish graffiti ruins a good ruin … but you can’t pick and choose how you find these sites. What we thought could be baths were actually the remains of fish preserves, now filled with junk.
The second level was a lot more interesting. The familiarly kitsch, brightly coloured Japanese love hotel rooms … this time smashed up to within an inch of their lives. Without exception every window was smashed, every bed was broken, every door had a hole in it and the insides of every cupboard had been booted in. As much as I hate such mindless vandalism you’ve got to give them some weird kind of credit for their consistent application of destruction. Plenty of people left their name tag graffitied on the wall, and I was most amused to find a floppy disk the size of a 12-inch record sleeve.
The burnt out rooms at the far end of the Hotel were by far the most atmospheric. If rooms exist in any living sense then their dark, damaged remains are their cremated bodies. Some fool will eventually burn the hotel down properly, but for now it’s in one piece.
With one successful find under our belts we headed out to our next destination the Namegawa Island theme park. It was raining for the entire day from there on, and it became a real test of our endurance. What exactly the park was and what remained there, we weren’t sure. But with only a tip-off to go on, we found the park and proceeded to head inside.
Entry to the park was in short: an ordeal. There was a main gate with a tunnel which led straight into the park, but that was thoroughly barb wired up. That entrance aside, the park was protected so effectively on all sides by mountains it defied belief. If there were any doubts about our commitment to this adventuring lark though, we showed how serious we were willing to get that day. Crawling through the far side barb wired entrance, battling our way through the undergrowth, scaling the muddy mountains …
by the time we got inside we were absolutely drenched and covered in mud.
It was hard not to think of Lost when exploring the park. All the surroundings were straight out of the show …the tunnels, the tropical trees, the strange objects on the horizon which stuck out of the trees. Even though the park failed to deliver much in the end there was always the feeling that some great discovery was around the corner. For us explorers it was disappointing to see what could’ve been. The park hotel, amusement rides, stalls and decorations. Somebody got detailed orders to demolish anything and everything in sight, leaving only the empty animal enclosures, some tunnels and behind the scenes-type rooms. Both me and Mike have our own lists of types of ruins we want to visit. This was a unique one, and worth the visit, but left us needing a shower more than any of you can imagine.