Bleak Scenes

Abandoned places, lesser-known attractions, and assorted oddities

Nametara Onsen


I spotted this abandoned hot spring resort by the side of the road as I was driving through the Hills of Akita Prefecture, on my way to photograph the Hotel Sekitei in April 2014. I made a note of its location and returned to explore it a few days later.

The establishment consisted of a single long, interconnected structure. It looked like two or three buildings that had been joined together rather than a single building. From the front it looked reasonably well preserved, although some of the windows had been removed and the roofs were sagging in places.

I donned some rubber boots and trudged around the back of the building. The rear looked much worse than the front; the frame had rotted and collapsed in places, including much of the central section. Snow drifts lingered in the shadows.

The main entrance wasn't even locked. This no longer surprised me after exploring many similarly unsecured buildings in Japan.

Many of the establishment's contents had been left behind, including some decent looking furniture and a drum kit. Anyone so inclined could just have parked a van out the front and loaded it with whatever they wanted. It would have been a victimless crime, since the rightful owners had left the stuff to rot in any case. Presumably second hand goods have so little value in Japan that it's just not worth anyone's time to take them.

There were separate bathrooms for men and women, which is the usual arrangement. I think this was only only place that I've seen that had wooden baths. I didn't notice anything else noteworthy.