Hachijō-jima Kokusai Kankō Hotel (八丈島)
‘The Hawaii of Japan’ has a nice ring to it, which is why several islands —including Hachijō-jima— have laid claim to it. Sadly Hachijō-jima has a lot more to offer urban explorers than it does your average tourist these days. I underestimated how difficult some of the ruins on this hit list would be to reach. The main circuit around the island is a comfortable drive, but turn off that road toward the coast and you’ll be forced to drive down some pretty scary roads. The Kokusai Kankō Hotel however can be seen on the horizon from miles away, and is the only multi-storey building on this part of the southern shoreline.
After the previous days’ disgusting adventure at the Hachijō Oriental Resort Hotel I really wasn’t in the mood for any more urban or rural exploration. I’d attempted to enter this place before checking in to my hotel, and had been put off by numerous cars parked around the site and a couple of guys scoping it out. It seemed like a pretty active site, and from the pictures I’d seen, another treacherous one.
I managed to get inside the hotel on my second attempt, and this time I had the place to myself. All online sources indicate that the hotel went under in 2004, 2 years before the Hachijō Oriental Resort. The hotel has been extensively damaged by wind, vines and human hands; a surprising amount of damage for only a decade. Back in the day it had all the facilities you would expect in a hotel of this size: banquet rooms, karaoke bars, a tennis court, swimming pool and a golf course. Nature has reclaimed most of these external areas, with only the golf course area still actively being tended to. Because of this, there’s a fairly regular stream of traffic passing by the entrance.
The temperatures on the island were still uncomfortably high, but with ample ventilation and escape routes available I was able to actually enjoy the experience. The pamphlet I picked up in the staff room stated the said the owners chose to make the exterior of the hotel brown to “make it one with the surrounding environment”. That environment was certainly beginning to envelop the hotel, with dashes of colour popping up in unexpected places.
Though I’d seen most parts of the hotel through other explorer’s photos, there were still a few surprises to be found if I looked hard enough. This helped me realize that what is of interest to one explorer, may be of no interest to another, and that multiple visits to the same ruin can still be of value.
The building which houses the gaming arcade was diagonally slanted as it was literally slipping into the ground. It’s a shame it was in such a state. There were at least a dozen gaming cabinets from the golden age of arcade gaming: Space Invaders, Super Monaco GP, Super Speed Race and more. There was so much junk on the ground that even setting foot inside the arcade required real dexterity.
There were a number of totalled cars and control booths positioned around the ground floor which were rusted to perfection. Back inside, there were hundreds of near-identical rooms to peruse. They hadn’t been completely cleared out, but the contents were wholly predictable —with the exception of these small leftovers, neatly positioned and facing the door. As if the couple had come in, and never left.
My ascent to the higher levels gradually gave me a better picture of what lay underneath the undergrowth. Looking out on the tennis court, and the swimming pool it was still difficult to imagine this area back in better times. Off in the distance Hachijō Kojima loomed, uninhabited and completely at peace.