The light was fading and the building is slowly falling apart, but almost a quarter of a century after closing its doors, this hotel has a silence and atmosphere all its own.
Japan’s mass tourism boom of the 1950s and 1960s, followed by the economic bubble a few decades later, were in many ways the making of the country’s numerous hot spring resorts.
They also turned out to be their downfall.
During the bubble years in particular, ever more, and ever bigger hotels changed the look and feel of such places, and worse, when the bubble finally burst, the inevitable drop in visitors meant there simply weren’t enough people to fill all those many-roomed monstrosities. Add to that the subsequent recession, not to mention changing trends, and it’s no wonder so many of these towns are now rundown, partly abandoned reminders of their once prosperous pasts.
Below then are photographs from such a place. A town like so many others. One that was built in an optimistic past, but now remains forever stuck in a very different, and also indifferent, future.
The buildings of this Japanese theme park have long since been demolished, but the beautifully faded relics that still remain make it a fascinating place to explore — especially so considering how much nature has taken the area back. There are also few hints of human interference over the years, meaning it now feels more like a nature reserve than any kind of entertainment venue. A peaceful spot where birdsong is abundant, and the decayed scenery is much more serene than sombre.
When doing a bit of work on my portfolio site the other day, I came across the photo below. It was taken about a decade ago, but in many ways it now feels considerably more prescient than it ever did back then.
Over the weekend, a request for some photographs included the one seen below — an image I have a real soft spot for, both in regards the end result, and the memories associated with it.
There’s already a monochrome version on these pages — it was part of a photo series from an abandoned school up in the mountains. A wonderfully atmospheric and incredibly intact old structure that can be seen here.
To add to that experience, it’s now almost six years since I took the photograph. Not that long ago, but it’s a period in which personally at least a lot changed, both in good ways and bad, making the slightly surreal peeling back of time feel more significant.
So, in a re-visit of sorts, here is the previously unseen colour version. My initial view was that black and white looked best. Over time that changed to colour. But now I can’t decide either way. The only thing I can be certain of is that I now like the photo more than I did over half a decade ago.