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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Exploring the ruins in Sagamiko

Ruins of buildings and abandoned places, known as 廃墟 haikyo in Japanese, are ripe for exploration and photography among enthusiasts. There are many blogs and websites dedicated to them, books published as well. Tokyo Times, for example, has a lot of wonderful photos of these tragic, lonely places.

Early this morning, Niklas, me and a mysterious lady friend embarked upon our own ruins-exploring adventure, which, come to think of it, is almost like treasure-hunting in a console role-playing game, but without the treasure, or leveling up. We headed off to Sagamiko, a town at the Kanagawa Prefecture, the train ride lasts an hour from our place.

We arrived at Sagamiko station at around ten.

Sagamiko sign in Sagamiko station

Sagamiko station

This is presumably the main street of Sagamiko.

Sagamiko town

Entrance to the main street

The architecture looks somewhat different from what I used to see in Tokyo.

This is a bakery.

A bakery at Sagamiko

We ended up having our breakfast in this restaurant. It is operated by an elderly couple.

Sagamiko restaurant

The ramen felt like home-cooked food, a rarity in most restaurants, and it was only 600 yen, which is even rarer.


Before we continued our journey, we took photos of these fish statues.

Statues of fish

We walked past a few houses.

Houses at Sagamiko

One had a nice statue outside.

Statue outside Sagamiko

The walk lasted nearly 20 minutes. Niklas saw these by the road and wondered how many more mirrors do they need.

How many mirrors do they need?

One of our destinations is Hotel Royal, the entire bloody hotel was abandoned many years ago.

Hotel Royal from the distance

It's for sale too.

Hotel Royal is for sale

There were many rubbish lying outside the hotel.

Hotel Royal from up close

Including a nice sofa.

Sitting on a sofa outside Hotel Royal

And a bicycle.

Rusted bicycle

As tempting it was to enter the place, I myself have seen many sites where explorers managed to get in and snap numerous interesting photos of its interior, furniture remained, the beds were still in the bedrooms, there were still videotapes meant for its guests. VHS? Old-school! However, a sticker warned us that it is actually protected by security alarms and camera. We went to have a look and it was true. So future explorers may not be so lucky.

Hotel Royal, if you haven't figured by now, was a love hotel, unfortunately, despite the garish decoration that remained outside, it is but a mockery of its former self.

We continued our way and saw a poor rice cooker and microwave lying by the road.

Forgotten microwave and rice cooker

I wondered whether it was from Hotel Royal.

This looked like a Dali painting.


After a few moments of walking, when ourselves at the opposite side of the Lake Sagami-ko, an artificial lake constructed in the 40s. We could still see Hotel Royal.

Hotel Royal from an even further distance away

Even though we were walking through residential areas, there were still abandoned artifacts lying about. Like this house.

Old abandoned house in Sagamiko

Or this car.

Broken car

I'm sure no one's still driving it.

There was also what looked like an abandoned warehouse.

Abandoned warehouse in Sagamiko

Which looked very interesting from the inside. Like how the windows were covered by moss.

Abandoned warehouse in Sagamiko, through the window

Now, in order to prevent misconception that the whole area's a bummer of a place scattered with ruined buildings, I'll show you that there are still some quiet, elegant beauty. Tokyo felt so far away.

Plants outside a house

Nice flowers

Weird-looking plants at Sagamiko

I wondered whether these cars were dumped aside, or whether it was a creative attempt to hide them from car thieves.

I wonder whether they are forgotten as well

The second destination of our exploring expedition was a 'cursed' hotel that was recently demolished. Its tale was a sad and tragic one. A hotel guest set the place on fire to kill himself and took down parts of the hotel. The owners, debt-ridden, and desperate by the damage caused, hung themselves in the hotel as well.

After the demolition, only the lower floors remained. These stairs here led us into the ruins.

Entrance to the ruins

Entering the ruins

Dilapidated and broken down, yet the windows remained, and the breathtaking scenery. It was a good spot to watch the scenery of the lake from.

Her sitting by the window

The rest of it was fascinating.

The main floor of the ruins

The main floor of the ruins

A shell of its former glory

Because of its cursed past, I doubt there will be any attempts to preserve its memories. So it's probably going to be left here to rot.

The elevators were filled up with rocks.

Broken elevators

Broken elevators 2

Broken elevators 3

The sense of adventure and exploration was exciting and thrilling, yet I cannot help but feel a little melancholic about this place.

Post-apocalyptic view


"I'll be watching you"

We went down to a lower floor.

lady friend and Niklas snapping photos

Some wallpapers were still there, peeling off, and streaks of paint running down, as if the walls were weeping, oh, how melodramatically melancholic!

Lady friend and Niklas snapping photos of peeling wallpapers

Bleeding walls

Her sitting by the window 2

We left the ruins after that.

Exiting the ruins

And ended up at Fujino Station. Seeing myself in the reflection, I couldn't resist the temptation of snapping another self-portrait.

Taking a photo of myself at Fujino Station

UPDATED (April, 2012)

It's funny to reread this article again. It's been nearly three years since I first went to the ruins at Sagamiko in May 2009. I revisited it a few times since then.

In late December 2009, I managed to shoot one of my short films, EXHALATION, at the ruins. You'll be able to see the place in two of the film's trailers.

The last time I went there was perhaps the summer of 2010. Gripped by a wave of nostalgia and sudden depression, I returned to the ruins alone, taking photos and videos of it. I was never able to upload them, I think I lost my materials when my computer got formatted. I sometimes wondered how long would this place remain? Or is it already gone?