The Hotel Royal haikyo is the grand-daddy of all love hotels, streaking 7 empty stories up into the big blue sky, a giant vermillion flag on the lakeshore calling out to all and sundry in a mega-watt alto- ‘Need some discreet time alone with your loved one? Come on down!’
I couldn`t find out any historical information about this haikyo, and I doubt there is anything much to be found. It probably went up in the last 10 years, came down in the last 5, and for the most part passed unremarked in the life of the area. It just seems like a bad idea, for several reasons. First off, it`s basically a classy love hotel, across 7 floors with around 35 rooms of varying sizes, all of them decorated in a unique manner- some of them a bit wacky, most fairly plain. It`s in a quiet area, on a road far from the nearest train station, overlooking a peaceful lake.
So who was the target audience? Young people looking to sow their wild oats in private would unlikely have access to a car, so we can rule most of them out. Couples trying to get away from the kids would be going out of their way to come here, so why not then have a properly classy time in a ryokan, where they could still do any of the deeds a love hotel is famous for. That leaves a third class- married men and women on surreptitious affairs, looking for an out of the way place where they wouldn`t be seen conducting their illicit liaisons. And how many of them could there be? Obviously not enough.
Add to all that- the idea is just tawdry, like Las Vegas without the limbo-ish in-between location or any of the relaxed local laws.
I went to this haikyo with my buddy Geoff- the first time for him, and now the last, since he’s going back to the USA in a week or so. Ah, what a transient place Japan is. The Love Hotels go up and come down, and friends come and go.
There are two types of haikyo really- the old ones and the new ones. The old ones may be anything abandoned for longer than 20 or so years, the new ones for less. They have very different charms- with the old ones you get the creative destruction of Nature rippling through the fabric, but not so much of the just-lived-in feel of the newer ones. But- that feel from the new ones is often not that interesting, because the people in question are only distanced from us by a short time. So, I like the old ones better.
As for this place- it could almost have been closed just a few days ago, for all the chance nature has had to get in. First off, as is my usual style, we cased the place thoroughly front and back.
Out back there were steps down to a utilities/generator room, which was filled with pipes and engines more tired and overwrought than any other part of the structure. Were they perhaps overclocking?
Back up the steps and behind the kitchen were a bunch of old arcade machines, and these tarred gloves, left to ‘dry’ on a rusted shelving unit.
Entering the place was remarkably easy, all the doors were open, so we breezed right in. The kitchen was just a junked up kitchen, stuff lying all over the place. Through the door and down the hall was the lobby- pitch black inside.
This is how you choose your room in a Love Hotel- there’s a whole board of these photos of each room. You choose the one you like- then tell it to the attendant, who is in a walled-off booth with normally only their hands showing. Discreet. Of course we went to 701, though it was less impressive without the LED rings lit up.
We went on to the second floor, me snapping photos, Geoff pausing to examine the remainders of life to backwards-engineer the hotel’s last few moments.
At an ash-tray: Look at this, 3 butts, all facing different angles- looks like 3 different people, maybe the same 3 who had the final 3 drinks in the lobby?
In a room filled with porn and bits of food: Look at the date on this cheese receipt, only 2 years ago, you think it was closed then, or this was from a homeless person?
It was weird how the place had been neither overtaken by Nature nor yet vandalized. A few rooms had had fire extinguishers let off in them, and one or two had broken windows, but for the most part every room looked like it must have the day the place closed down. Not a wreck, just bed sheets slightly rumpled, bits of trash in the trash cans.
Between the first and second floors was a cool fire-safety chute.
Geoff climbed up it halfway, then came back down and we just took the stairs- we only had one flashlight and it was pitch black inside.
In the corner room on each floor the bathroom was illuminated with a bright blue light.
The top floor was a big function area, maybe 2 large dining rooms with their own kitchen. Now a bunch of junk was lying around- video cassettes, books, manga, TV’s.
We couldn’t get onto the roof, the way was blocked by a solid metal door, but out the side of the top floor kitchen there was a mini balcony, and I could get this shot of one of the regal R’s:
And that was it, really. Geoff and I walked the long way to the next station in the gathering dark, having a good final chat about real and heavy stuff. There was another haikyo I wanted to see nearby- Sun Hills- but it was far too dark, and would have to wait for a second trip out.
Entry – Simple, all open doors.
Highlights – Geoff Sherlock Holmes-ing everything, top floor, fire chute, just-vacated vibe.
Source- Thanks a lot to Brian at gaijinbash.com for telling me about this place, and its location.
RUINS / HAIKYO
You can see all MJG’s Ruins / Haikyo explorations here:
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