‘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.
The largest hotel on Hachijō-jima is a grand-looking structure, which tried to emulate some of the palatial glory of French Baroque architecture. It underwent several name changes over the years —the Hotel Royal, the Pricia Resort— settling on the name Hachijō Oriental Resort Hotel before finally going under in 2006.
The island itself is probably most famous as a diving spot, or for its neighbouring island Hachijō Kojima (八丈小島) which was used as the setting for Battle Royale. Hachijō-jima has been on my radar for a few years as a destination to explore. As several other explorers have made it there before me, I didn’t anticipate any surprises but was given a few unpleasant ones.
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.