Bleak Scenes

Abandoned places, lesser-known attractions, and assorted oddities

Hotel Century


The Hotel Century is a long-abandoned love hotel in Tochigi Prefecture. It is next door to the Don Quixote, and appears to date from the same era. Like the Don Quixote, the Century consists of a number of fully detached cottages, each with its own carport. Such places would be more accurately described as "love motels", but the word motel is not commonly used in Japan. I have however seen two such places, the Motel Sun River and the Motel Akatsuki.

When I first explored the Century in November 2013, it had obviously been abandoned for many years, and nature had made a lot of progress reclaiming the site. Decades of leaf litter thickly covered the asphalt, making it resemble a forest floor, and bushes and small trees were taking over the driveway. The forecourt had become an unofficial garbage dump, with various old television sets, washing machines, and appliances lying around. This is a common fate for abandoned places in Japan, as there's a fee to dispose of large items legally, which many people prefer not to pay.

A small truck had been abandoned in one of the carports, and another was parked forlornly in the middle of a driveway.

I didn't see much evidence of gratuitous vandalism, but someone had removed the windows, presumably either for scrap or to reuse them. Some dwellings and sheds in rural Japan are little more than shacks, and appear to be repaired using whatever materials come to hand. Someone had also smashed the sinks and taken the taps. Although few people can be bothered stealing the furniture, electronics, or other equipment from abandoned buildings in Japan, theft of metal fittings like window frames, taps, and door handles is quite common.

The exteriors of the cottages were still fairly well preserved. The architecture of love hotels is often gaudy and ostentatious, but the Century was quiet and unpretentious, with little in the way of ornamentation.

The hotel's office was in a small single storey building near the entrance. I neglected to explore it during my first visit, so I did so when I returned in January 2016. Amongst other things, I hoped to find evidence of when the hotel closed. Sure enough I found a calendar on the wall, opened to September 1992.

The interiors of the cottages were in a terrible condition. The wallpaper and the walls were parting company, and the The furniture was sinking through the rotting, collapsing floors. Most of the bedrooms were such a shambles that I didn't even want to enter, so I photographed them through the windows instead. There was a lot of garbage inside some of the cottages, especially the bathrooms. It was mostly cans, bags, and assorted food containers. Presumably this was left long ago by squatters, as there is no fee to dispose of domestic garbage, and therefore no reason to dump it illegally. Given the appalling condition of the buildings I imagine that it's been years since anyone squatted here.

Despite the decay, it wasn't hard to imagine how the rooms must once have looked. Like the exterior architecture, the décor was mostly tasteful and understated. Some of the beds were garish monstrosities, but there's no need to dwell on that. The rooms would once have been comfortable places to escape the pressures of modern life for a few hours. It's a little sad to see garbage and decay where lovers once cavorted.