Midwinter in the mountains
The reliably unreliable weather forecast predicted several inches of snow and temperatures as low as -8 degrees for my little excursion out into the mountainous countryside. Traveling far afield purely to document ruins feels a little redundant these days —hence the long absence— but the prospect of a weekend enjoying hot springs in a sleepy countryside town was very attractive. And I had the feeling that there might be a couple of ruins to explore somewhere along the way. What I did find, strolling around the city centre was an abundance of snack bars. In case you don’t know, Japanese snack bars are cheaply decorated box rooms made for even cheaper thrills; conversation with an aging beauty over an overpriced beverage. Unlike hotels, abandoned snack bars are always firmly locked up, with very few exceptions. So despite having found dozens of deserted bars over the years, I’d never actually made my way inside.
A local strip club on the same street looked rather worse for wear. And what’s with the four digit phone number?
The door of this nameless place was off its hinges, but still blocking the way in. The sign above says it’s officially recommended by the local tourist board. I continued my search … after a while I found there was one section of the town which looked explorable, but finding a way in there took a bit of persistence.
The rather comical remains of a fence, but this was my way in. As you can see from the first house below, this block of houses was barely standing. Local dwellings all falling to pieces or in danger of falling down. At what point did their owners decide it was time to move out of there?
The row of one-story homes on the right hand side was a little more stable. The last house I came to had its front door off its hinges and lying horizontally on the floor. Like many residential relics I’d seen, personal belongings had been scattered rather haphazardly around the house. Piles of clothes of the floor, the remains of a record collection. The flooring was a little fragile but I got around, seeing as much as I wanted to see. This was obviously the father’s room; a full book collection still on the shelves and some nifty blue vinyl stuck to the wall.
Around the corner was a local snack bar ‘Yakata’. I tried the door handle just in case, and whaddya know it was open …
Finally. So what treats would be left behind inside this tiny, boxy building?
Almost nothing in fact. The lack of windows and natural lighting made it difficult to take any pictures, but as it happens there was very little left to see. The bar had been cleaned out, not counting some equipment and a handful of minor curios. Such as this dated Clavion speaker … a collection of matchboxes from the hotel … and this rather kitsch painting instantly devalued by the clock randomly inserted into it.
So that was it. I can’t say what else I was expecting to find in there … this time the actuality was a lot less interesting than the fantasy. At least I can cross this off my list of ruins to visit.