Kappa Onsen Hotel

When a Japanese hotel is left abandoned for over twenty years, it melts back into the earth...

Overlooking a gushing river in the Onsen rich area of Kinugawa (Tochigi Prefecture), this hotel complex sits high above a rocky cliff. Tightly boarded up, a decrease in tourist numbers resulted in its permanent closure in the 90’s.  Squashed between two other discarded buildings, its, drab concrete exterior is a stark contrast to its lush forest back drop.

 

Its multiple levels contain a series of decaying traditional Japanese guest rooms filled with rotting tatami mats, zaisu’s (Japanese seats), kotatsu tables and futons. Vines and weeds grow through open windows and grass sprouts through the floors – a botanical invasion that was inevitable given its forest location.

 

The hotels ground level includes the former reception area, bar and dining rooms.  Glasses, teacups and plates remain on shelves and chairs and leisure orientated knick knacks such as games, ash trays and magazines still sit on table tops.  The long dining room is a messy, mould covered space overlooked by a vibrant mosaic – a colourful reminder of the hotels once lively ambience.  

 

Dank tatami mats stretch across a large conference room where years of water damage have formed a dangerously large hole in its centre, openly exposing the level beneath.  Long hallways covered in debris contain discarded taxidermy deer standing on ferns – an enchantingly sublime, ‘outdoors meets indoors’ spectacle.

 

Containing vintage ash trays, the elevator spaces on each level are adorned with 70’s wallpaper and damp blue carpet.  Retro phones attached to the walls are reflective of the time the resort closed its doors.  Hiding in the basement are the amusements – a dank, dust filled space lined with rows of seated vintage video games still plugged into wall sockets. 

 

Lastly, a large, dried up bathhouse sits in the basement. Soap dispensers and wash buckets lay scattered over its tiled floors amongst broken glass and dead leaves.  Filled with water bottles and an assortment  of shower items, these wooden wash areas sit idle in the dark.

 

Its close proximity beside a clear running river combined with its awkward cliff side location makes for a costly and difficult demolishment. And far too decayed and dilapidated for any restoration plans - what becomes of a place like this?