Bleak Scenes

Abandoned places, lesser-known attractions, and assorted oddities

Burnt Out Wedding Venue


I came across this burnt out wedding venue as I was driving through Tochigi Prefecture in 2013. I know nothing of its history except for what can be surmised from the photographs.

I have to admit that the sight of a wedding venue in ruins doesn't exactly fill me with misery. I don't care for weddings in general, and I strongly dislike the Japanese custom of spending the price of an upmarket car on them. You could even argue that this custom is a major cause of Japan's decline, inasmuch as the money squandered on weddings could go a long way towards raising the nation's birth rate.

The exterior décor of the building was incoherent kitsch - a cross between a church and a castle, with both battlements and stained glass windows. Most of the latter had been shattered by the fire.

There was a slightly sinister black car in the front car park. From a distance it looked quite new, and I wondered why it had been parked there. When I saw the other side I realized that it too had been abandoned.

A discarded child's unicycle in front of the building added a slightly surreal, unsettling touch to the desolate scene.

I had my doubts about the wisdom of entering a burnt out building, but I stood on a few discarded tires and cautiously stepped through one of the empty window frames. The fire had caused a lot of damage, but the structure was apparently still sound. The building had a steel frame, and I noted that the fire proofing on the girders was intact. I explored the front rooms, where there was adequate light from the windows. I decided against exploring deeper into the building, since it would have been too dark for photography anyway.

The lobby was littered with motorcycles, motor scooters, furniture, futons, electrical equipment, and assorted garbage. These discarded items didn't have any fire damage, so they must have been dumped after the fire. I later learned that abandoned places in Japan often become illegal garbage dumps.

The lobby had been gutted, but these side rooms were almost untouched.

Venturing upstairs, I found a dressing room and photographic studio, which made me realise that the place was a wedding venue. Until then I hadn't been sure what it was. With hindsight the décor should have been a dead give-away, but I wasn't familiar with Japanese wedding venues.