Bleak Scenes

Abandoned places, lesser-known attractions, and assorted oddities

Hotel Crown


The Hotel Crown was one of four abandoned Love Hotels that I visited in Kinugawa Onsen. It's hidden in a small wooded area at the end of a muddy lane. I visited the Crown twice, in late 2013 and early 2016.

The Crown was apparently the third love hotel in the area to go out of business. The relatively good condition of the buildings, and more modern equipment, showed that it was open more recently than the Century and the Don Quixote. On the other hand the overgrown vegetation indicated that it has been closed for some time.

Like the other hotels in the region, the Crown consisted of separate cottages, each with a carport. The heavy undergrowth made it difficult to get good exterior shots.

The internal shutters had apparently been nailed shut in most of the rooms, so they were too dark for ambient light photography. When I visited in 2013 I didn't have any artificial lighting, so I was only able to photograph the interiors of a couple of cottages. I also thought the Crown was the least interesting of the four abandoned hotels in the area, so I spent relatively little time there.

I only photographed a single calendar on my first visit, which showed the page for August. Unfortunately it didn't show the year, but it did show that August 1 was a Tuesday. The only years between 1980 and 2013 in which August 1 fell on a Tuesday were 1989, 1995, 2000, and 2006. Also, the girl in the photograph is identified as Eriko Sato. A little research revealed that she was born on December 19, 1981, and her career started in 1999. I could therefore safely rule out 1989 and 1995. I thought 2006 was too recent - a mere four years before the author of Spike Japan found the place abandoned - so I was fairly sure that the calendar was for the year 2000.

When I returned to Kinugawa Onsen in 2014, I considered revisiting the Crown with my LED light panels to get more interior shots, but I didn't have time. Japan has a virtually infinite supply of ruins, but my time is sadly limited.

When I made my third visit to the area in early 2016 I had a few hours to spare in the evening, so I finally got around to having a closer look at the Crown. The light was fading as I arrived, but since I was using my LED panels this didn't matter.

This time I found several calendars which were unambiguously for the year 2000, confirming my earlier deduction. Unless the calendars were planted to mislead explorers, we can safely presume that the hotel accommodated its last lovers around the end of the 20th Century.

Some rooms still had beds, but much of the furniture and fittings that you'd expect to find in a hotel had been removed. This is a bit unusual for Japan, where the contents are usually left to rot along with the building.

The interiors of the cottages were predictably damp and musty, and the process of decay was well under way. Some of the floors had already collapsed, and others were unsteady, so I had to tread carefully.

A building near the entrance contained the hotel's office, as well as the living quarters for the manager. I only had a quick look at the office in 2013, but I explored the building more thoroughly in 2016. It was generally well preserved, apart from the floor, which was beginning to collapse in places. Most of the personal possessions had been removed, but some furniture had been left behind.