The Pearl Love Hotel Haikyo in Tochigi is a wreck in camouflage, deeply nested underneath a blanket of scraggy brown vines. Rooms lie in embers, grown through with ferns; once-bohemian beds, chaise longues and chandeliers lie scrapped, dropped, and despoiled with the nests of birds, spiders, and the homeless. The grand two-story executive suite still maintains some of its sordid gravitas, its sultry red round-bedded apex room as faux-regal as ever, now overlooking a graveyard of spent passion inveigled by nature’s rapacious tendrils.
The Pearl Hotel kicked off my most recent haikyo road trip- this one taken with Mike of Mike’s Blender. I’ve had the location in my sights for a while, one of 7 spots we hit on the trip. 4 of them were solid, 3 we found only as demolishments.
This was our first trip as a duo. Always before we’d been a trio, Mike, me, and Jason. Jason left for Florida a few months back though, so we pushed onwards without him. We rented the car early for Saturday morning, I printed out the last of the maps in a flurry of frantic Googling, and off we went.
We arrived early, around 11am, at an old boarded-up Pachinko hall that now lay in the middle of some kind of scrap-plastic storage yard, and was itself being used to store huge plastic drums inside. We wandered the maze-like high-stacked yard for a while, out to the back where a small river trickled on by. Where was the Love Hotel?
I spied a fence in bamboo at the edge of the yard, and walked back to the road and down, to where the Pearl Love hotel sign still stood, half-masked by vines. I called to Mike, we messed around with the car, ended up re-parking where we’d started, then ventured down a webby tree-arched grotto road to the hotel complex itself.
It was difficult at first to make out what we were seeing. The place was a confusion of veiny brown foliage, half-dead and tough like wire, making it tricky to wade through. I moved recklessly with excitement, and so got myself scratched up. Mike prepped a little more carefully, donning long sleeves, gloves, and even a particle filter mask. Impressive. I guess I’ll have to get one myself too.
Then we split. I worked my way through all the smaller buildings, each of them just a room and a bed, most of them with their mattresses ripped or removed, their trinket-vending machines tossed on their sides. There was little of interest to shoot, just a lot of ragged rooms, though as usual there were a spots of distinct love hotel flair.
It was old. 20 or 30 years I’d say, from the state of overgrowth and general decay.
In one room I became a little uneasy. The windows had all been shuttered with heavy blue canvas, nailed and stapled into the ceilings and walls, or simply totally duct-taped over. In the first room clothes hung in knots from a chandelier hanging half-canted. In the hallway and the bathroom it was getting very dark with all the lights stopped up, so I tore a few blue tarps down. I saw red and black stains on the wall and floor. I began to wonder- why was this place stopped up like this? The thought in the back of my mind was that I’d hit upon some kind of dungeon.
Through to the final room, and with a little light creeping in behind me I could make out what looked like a big papier mache nest. A bed and room shrouded and hung with paper cladding, off the walls and from cross-beams strutted like the ceiling bars of a four-poster. The two windows were both strung with blue canvas. I began to wonder if somebody was there, lying in wait, breathing quietly until I passed, or came close enough. I wondered if the body was there still, of a victim or resident, dead alone and so remaining.
I took a shot with flash then tore down the canvas blinds. An empty bed, and room. A human nest. I moved on.
After that I stumbled upon Mike, taking shots in his full gear, camera on tripod. He told me about the best find of the place, the two-story executive suite. I headed for it.
It was easily the best preserved of all the places. The walls were still a vivid red floral pattern, clashing beatifully with the dark wood of the staircase, simple brown curtains, and yellow and blue corner bench. I took photos in every direction for a while before heading up to the stairs to the main find- the circular bed, in almost perfect condition. A few of the mirrors were cracked, but otherwise the second floor was in great condition, totally different from the rest of the place. I wonder how that came to pass.
In post production on these photos I wanted to try something a little different- so settled on this blown-out black and white render of the foyer. Let me know what you think.
After finishing the suite, the only thing left was to climb the nearby water tower and take the shot that I opened this post with. Mike climbed with me, up a very trembly ladder. Soon we were back down again, in the car, and shooting off to the next location. To look forward to- a Grand Center, a school full of birds, and several factory buildings with cos-players in.
Here’s some video of our approach into the Pearl Love Hotel:
Location – Tochigi.
Entry – A little brambly. Wear long-sleeves and pants.
Highlights – The homeless nest, the executive suite, the view from the water tower.
Alternate – You can see Mike’s version of the exploration on his site here.
RUINS / HAIKYO
You can see all MJG’s Ruins / Haikyo explorations here:
[album id=4 template=compact]