Tochigi Weirdness: The W House
This architectural oddity caught my eye whilst driving to a nearby onsen town along a torturously long road in the Tochigi countryside. From my split-second glimpse at it I didn’t think it was abandoned, just a local curiosity at best. On the return trip, I spotted it again and convinced my wife to pull over so I could check it out. The area was now completely dark, with the exception of a couple of bunkers with vending machines in the forecourt. Upon closer inspection of the W shaped house… the dumped sofa near the entrance, the overgrown foliage, fixtures falling off … this odd little thing was as abandoned as they come.
I’m still surprisingly chickenshit when it comes to exploring buildings in the darkness, but with the front door completely unlocked I couldn’t resist a quick survey of the rooms by torchlight. Back outside, the vending machines intrigued me … what randomness would I find this time? Well, bunker number one was filled with the legendary, underwear vending machines which most people will tell you don’t exist in Japan anymore. Bunker number two however was filled with more serious erotic items, and (most surprisingly for me) a monitor camera which audibly snapped photos of me every 30 seconds I spent inside the bunker. A little freaked out I headed back to the car and made plans to return early the next morning.
In the light of the following day the building became recognisable as an abandoned novelty restaurant. Back inside, the front room had an odd collection of daruma dolls and personal belongings piled up high in neat stacks. The building was in fairly frail condition; the kitchen area had been mostly ripped out, the floor was collapsing in the hallway, and I could see up into the roof through the holes in the ceiling. Scaling the stairs to the second floor, I found a fairly typical mess of clothes, videotapes and personal belongings. A moment later I heard the sound of a truck door being slammed shut. A workman made his way past my window, somehow not managing to see me. How had I been rumbled so quickly? Somebody had come to get me out of there. The workman —with some connection to the restaurant— took up a position outside the front door, blocking my exit. I needed a way out. The back doors were all shut, so jumping out of the rear window was the only option.
I took off in the opposite direction and found what looked like the remains of an abandoned racetrack. The W house wasn’t the only strange building in the neighbourhood. Some twenty minutes or so later I returned to the house …
The workman was still hanging around … his attention diverted to the real reason for being there, the porno vending machines. My appearance on camera the previous night must have brought him down to protect his little nest egg. As he checked the cameras and wiring in the bunkers I came out front and took a few, final pictures of the exterior before making a hasty getaway.