Bleak Scenes

Abandoned places, lesser-known attractions, and assorted oddities

Ruined Roadside Restaurants


I came across this pair of ruined restaurants by a road in the hills to the south of Lake Tazawa, in Akita Prefecture, in October 2013. There was a certain beauty in their peaceful decay, so I stopped to explore and photograph them. It was a rainy, misty day, so I was glad of the chance to do some indoor photography. Their roofs still kept out the rain for the most part.

I don't know anything about the history of this place or why the restaurants closed down. I can only speculate that they were victims of the country's long recession. Since I was new to ruin exploration at the time, I didn't think to look for something which I could use to estimate when they closed. Your guess is as good as mine.

The first restaurant was of a traditional Japanese design. The exterior was in poor condition, with large holes in the walls and one end of the roof. The door had collapsed inwards so I just walked on in. I expected it to be a hollow shell, but the interior was surprisingly well preserved. As is so often the case in Japan, it wasn't worth anyone's time to carry off many of the original contents. It looks as if the staff just left work one day and never came back.

A meal ticket (食券) vending machine still stood by the entrance. These are quite common in cheaper restaurants - you choose what you want from the menu, buy the corresponding ticket from the machine, and hand it to the staff at the counter. This system is presumably used to save the the labour of accepting money and giving change.

The second restaurant was more "western" style. I can't say that the colour scheme would have improved my appetite.

While I was photographing the interior, a Japanese photographer entered, accompanied by a female model. Apparently they also came upon the abandoned restaurants by chance, and thought that they'd be an interesting backdrop for some photographs. The photographer allowed me to take some shots of his model, on condition that I didn't share them online. I am a man of my word, so unfortunately I can't show any here.

There was a large hole in the roof above the corner of the kitchen, allowing rainwater to enter and cause severe decay. Previous visitors had scattered stuff around, and someone had left some old undergarments draped over the rusting hulk of the stove. It was slightly disturbing to see a food preparation area reduced to such a state.

There was a pantry next to the kitchen, which was in somewhat better condition.