Nasu Mountainside Hotel

Months before the quake, and weeks before Tokyo saw its first snowfall of the season we began our Tochigi road trip. Innocently driving through the countryside and enjoying the most minor tourist attractions imaginable. One of which, a viewing platform halfway up a mountain gave us a chance to stop for a while and take in the expansive view of the surrounding area. Just over the hill, as the snow started to come down in earnest I spotted what would be my first ‘stumble upon’ ruin of the trip.

There’s no complex mystery or extensive backstory for this ruin. It’s a hotel. It went out of business. Its remains may have been left for posterity, or more likely left for local kids to vandalize because of expensive demolition costs. This was my first haikyo I’ve explored in the snow, and I felt more than a little touch of The Shining as I arrived in the lobby. Some effort had been made to clear out the interior of the hotel, leaving only the real bare framework of the structure.

Which left very little for me to photograph. Each room had been ripped out in nearly identical fashion, with no reminders of the owners or any of the occupants. With most of the windows smashed in, the winds raged through the long corridors of each floor. Occasionally snow would softly drift and fall through the empty window frames … a most unlikely scene of beauty in such a desolate place.

Only the trickiest items to dispose of (such as this safe) were left behind. The keys were still in place, just in case.

There was a small viewing balcony, with some Nikon telescopes still remaining. As you can see my view was nothing but a blanket of white, but on better days there must have been quite a stunning view here. (below) The remains of the elevator controls.

The side wing of the hotel which housed the hot spring baths was a tricky one. I tried to approach it from the outside from both directions and failed. On my third attempt I was able to find my way in.

Hard to believe these hot springs have only been closed for a few years.  Time to get to work with those cleaning tools. Satisfied I’d found everything I was going to find, I checked out of the hotel and got back on the road.

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