No trip to Japan would be complete without a trip to a traditional Japanese bathhouse called an onsen. Japanese onsens conjure up images of relaxing in warm waters, sipping green tea against a backdrop of cherry blossom trees.

The alkaline-rich spa waters of this region are claimed to ease rheumatism. As a consequence of these medicinal properties, numerous onsens and hotels sprung up in the 1940s. For many years these hotels were filled to capacity, as over 3 million tourists flocked here every year. The business was booming!

These looming concrete tower blocks continued to be built. They eventually lined both sides of the river, destroying the previously picturesque natural beauty. In attempting to capitalize on the flocking tourists, these huge ugly buildings acted to drive them away. The final contributing factor to the demise of this and other hotels was a local financial collapse in the 1990s. The economic bubble had now, truly burst.

Now the hotel, like its counterparts, lies in ruins. The exterior is crumbling and choked with weeds. The large bathhouse pool in the basement is empty. The hotel rooms are damp and smell of mold, the floor beneath the tatami mats collapsing. I had to tread carefully in the bedrooms, to avoid falling through the floor!

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Basement bathhouse

The walkway leading to the outside pool

Broken windows in the bathhouse

This window looked down onto the river

Bedroom with dead leaves

Sitting room and balcony

Decaying traditional Japanese bedroom

Basement spa reception

Other 1940s concrete hotels

Small doll in a display box

Weeds choked the pool

Concrete 1940s spa hotel exterior