Bleak Scenes

Abandoned places, lesser-known attractions, and assorted oddities

Hotel Noa


The Hotel Noa was the only hotel in the moribund Asahikawa love hotel district that I managed to enter. The entire top half of the front facade had lost its sheeting, leaving a bare wooden frame, but the building was otherwise intact and waterproof.

After establishing that the hotel was completely abandoned, I made my way along the narrow alley on the left side, and found a sliding window that had been left unlatched, through which I made my entry.

The window opened into a narrow rear corridor, which provided a passage between the guest rooms and the office. Most of the windows were boarded up, so the corridor was a lot darker than it looks in the photograph, which required a very long exposure. Note that the last room is number seven, but there were clearly only six rooms. Each garage had its own stairway leading directly to the room above, so the customers wouldn't have seen the dingy corridor.

The rooms were all pretty much the same, apart from the wallpaper. One was decorated in a tacky fake timber and brickwork motif, but I thought the others were adequately tasteful. They were typical of the comfortable, but hardly luxurious rooms that you'd expect in a small rural love hotel.

The rooms were still in good condition, and most of the contents had been left in place. The windows were still intact and closed, so the air was stale, and some rooms had an unpleasant smell, which was probably animal urine. I found a nasty surprise in one of the bathtubs - the partially decayed remains of a dead cat. In the interests of thoroughly documenting the scene I took a photograph of the cat, but as a small concession to good taste I won't show it here.

The front part of the building contained a utility room and office on the ground floor, and an apartment above. The utility room was too dark to photograph by ambient light, and I didn't think it was worth the considerable hassle of fetching and setting up my LED panels.

There was a 2009 calendar on the office wall, which gives an idea of when the place was abandoned. I also noticed that the control panels for the rooms were numbered 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7. Apparently the number four can be considered unlucky in Japan (and some other Asian cultures), so the hotel didn't have a room four, just as some buildings have no thirteenth floor.

The cat gymnasium by the front window shows that the proprietor obviously had a cat. This suggested the gruesome possibility that this was the same cat that I saw decomposing in one of the rooms. Perhaps the unfortunate creature was somehow left behind, and forlornly wandered around inside the hotel until it starved to death. This could have happened if its owner suddenly died, or took ill. On the other hand, the corpse might just have been a neighbourhood cat that somehow got in after the place was abandoned.

Morbid curiosity compelled me to open the refrigerator. As expected, it wasn't a pretty sight.

The proprietor, or perhaps proprietors, must have lived here. It would have been a palace compared to my first apartment in Tokyo.