BE Laboratory – Atami
The BE Laboratory was a good chance to show a curious friend around his first ruin, and for me to get back into the swing of things after six months of jishuku. Visiting the ruins of a laboratory in Japan is a potentially awe-inspiring prospect. I’ll have to go further afield to find one though, as Atami’s BE Laboratory is a misleading misnomer. The lab is actually a rather plain lodge, the likes of which have been found in ruins in many different prefectures throughout Japan. The ‘Basic Encounter Training’ lab —to give its full name— has quite an interesting history though, one which is often glazed over, as the ruin itself is nothing special.
On the outside the BE Lab is yet another lodging, misplaced in an obscure location and doomed to close its doors forever. Look under the covers and you’ll find that it’s wider group, the Japan BE Laboratory (日本BEけんきゅう) is pretty culty self-help organisation. Its leader is a Mr. GyOtOku, and while the group has amassed quite a healthy number of followers, the group have had to do an Aum and rebrand themselves for some reason (as Nis0ken) in recent years. There are a few of his seminars online, I hope his conclusions are a lot clearer than his whiteboard diagrams.
Things inside the lab looked pretty much the same as the last photos I’d seen of it, +1 year of natural disintegration. The place seemed like it was pretty homely back in the day. A cooler in the foyer for beers, a nice tennis table and plenty of golf bags … this was the good life, right? There was one room I didn’t take any pictures of. It was pitch black inside, was covered from top to bottom in chalk graffiti and had a broken karaoke machine in one corner. I read afterwards this was the ‘confinement room’. Participants in the programme would spent 2 days captively in this room, working on their self-development. “Why would they need meat-locker-style metal doors in this room?” we pondered at the time. Yikes.
Most of the graffiti in the room was dated back to 1999, the best guess I’ve got for the date of its closure. Some residents left unhappy messages on the wall about having to leave, many more kids added their own tags and pictures to the blank spaces after the building was abandoned.
Did children stay here as well? Pretty schizophrenic drawings for children, or adults for that matter. There a still few blanks in the BE story, if anyone can fill them in, let me know.