Bleak Scenes

Abandoned places, lesser-known attractions, and assorted oddities

Meihan Health Land


Meihan Health Land stands beside the Meihan National Highway in rural Mie Prefecture. It has the distinction of being the only establishment that I have visited both when it was still in business and after it fell into ruins. In December 2003 I spent a night there while on a cycling tour. I took a snapshot of the place just before I departed, which appears below. It's not a very good photograph, but it's the only one I have so it will have to do.

Years later I, while browsing a Japanese web site devoted to abandoned buildings, I saw the ruins of Meihan Health Land and remembered that I had once stayed there. In December 2015 I returned to the area for the first time since my cycling tour. I photographed an old Convair 240 in the morning, then checked out an abandoned love hotel that I'd seen online. Amazingly, the love hotel had been thoroughly renovated and reopened, something that I've never seen happen before. Buildings in Japan seldom get a second chance after they fall into disuse. In the afternoon I visited Meihan Health Land for the second time.

There was a fence around the property, but it had been neglected, and had collapsed on one side, so I just walked on in to have a look around.

A lot of apparently brand-new small trucks and vans, without licence plates, were parked in the car park on one side of the building. I guessed that the site was being used to store vehicles prior to delivery.

The building was a sorry sight after years of abandonment. The windows and doors had been removed, and there was a large hole in the wall, so I just walked straight in to explore the interior.

The place had been largely gutted, leaving large, empty spaces. The roof obviously leaked, so it was damp and mouldy, with filthy puddles on the floor. It was a rather dim, overcast winter afternoon, which added to the gloomy atmosphere. There were rather few windows on the ground floor, so most of it was dark. By this time I was thoroughly used to exploring abandoned buildings, but this place made me feel uneasy.

I made my way to a public bathroom at the rear of the building, which was relatively well-preserved and fairly well lit. I remembered bathing there a dozen years before. The rotenburo (outdoor bath) where I had once luxuriated was being taken over by moss, grass, and weeds.

I went outside again to photograph the gutted restaurant at the front of the building. As I was working, a middle-aged Japanese man approached and gestured for me to leave (crossed arms to indicate "not allowed, pointing to the road). He didn't try to talk to me, presumably because he assumed that I wouldn't understand. I just said "sumimasen" and left immediately without another word. The man didn't give me any trouble.

It's unfortunate that my exploration was cut short before I ventured upstairs, but at the time I wasn't too disappointed. With most of the interior gutted, the building wasn't all that interesting, and I wasn't really enjoying myself. I think I was even slightly glad of an excuse to leave early. I took a few final shots of one of the dragons on the roof from outside the fence before heading off in search of a place to spend the night.