Bleak Scenes

Abandoned places, lesser-known attractions, and assorted oddities

Shiokari Onsen


I discovered Shiokario Onsen as I was exploring Hokkaido in August 2014. It was a medium sized roadside hot springs resort, consisting of half a dozen two storey wooden structures. I arrived around noon and spent a few hours exploring and photographing it.

I only entered the building closest to the road, which was apparently a youth hostel. A door had been left unlocked, so I just opened it and walked on in. When buildings are abandoned in Japan, it's normal to leave much of the furniture and other contents behind, and this place was no exception. The interior was mostly in good condition, as least superficially.

I had my doubts about the building's structural integrity, however. I got the impression that the frame was leaning slightly, and the floors seemed a little wobbly and uneven. The floor had partially collapsed in one ground floor room. Rather eerily, two towels that had been draped over a clothesline above the collapsing floor remained in place, although they weren't even secured by clothes pegs. An interior door near the front desk had buckled in the middle, apparently crushed as its frame sagged on top of it.

There was a large notice board on the ground floor near the stairs, where people had pinned expired railway tickets, business cards, airline boarding passes, and various other things. The newest ones that I saw dated from 1997, which gives a rough idea of when the place closed.

The central section of one of the rear buildings had collapsed, leaving an impressive pile of unstable debris. The ends of the structure looked like they were still in good condition, and I'm guessing that the central section did too until the frame suddenly gave way. Once water gets inside, timber structures can suffer severe internal decay while their exteriors remain deceptively intact. Exploring them can therefore be more dangerous than it appears.

There were other, more intact structures that I could have explored, but after seeing the fate of this building I felt less inclined to do so. Besides, I had other things to do that day, so I decided to move on. A few hours later I found the Asahikawa Love Hotel District.