It was my second time to visit the ruins of the Queen Chateau. It’s a bizarre abandonment, a giant soapland in the midst of a cluster of still-functioning soaplands presiding over them like the towering castle in the suburbs in Edward Scissorhands. Within its walls sex was transacted for money on a grand scale, on 6 floors of executive suites, four per floor, each kitted out with a large bath, private bar and a bed.
3 Venuses in the lobby, behind the fountain
It’s a little odd to talk about going to a soapland, even one in ruins. Perhaps it’s stranger to go to one in ruins than one that is still functioning. Why would you want to go there? Surely it’s just a sad place. Whether you think it was once a place of just-good-fun or a place of exploitation, you’d have to agree the ruins would have a bad vibe.
Well, yes. They do.
Why would I come a second time, then? It’s a good question. I started going to ruins about 2 years ago looking for some sense of adventure, and at times I certainly found it, along with camaraderie with friends, a new hobby, and a new (if small) audience for whatever I had to say about such places. After a while though the excitement of such explorations tended to fade away and be replaced with a desire to document them well on my blog, to get hits, and to add to the collection. Now I’ve visited around 50 ruins locations, and regularly wonder if I can get a book published. I’ve had brief feedback from Kodansha (a big Japanese publisher) that my idea was interesting but my photos weren’t up to it. I sent off a few more pitches to other publishers in the States, Chrysler was one, Things Asian another, and got some positive feedback but no buy-in.
So I started to work on my photography. All the while though I see other ruins posts on other sites far out-strip the kind of readership that my posts get. I suppose this is because they are posted on larger sites that take multiple articles from multiple blogs, and so have a much wider reader-base. You can’t argue with that. In fact, the only thing to do is to try to get on board. So I sent off pitches for some ‘Ruins of Japan’ compilation articles to various off-beat interest e-zines. I heard back from one who may yet take me on to some extent, so I’m excited about that.
So that’s basically why I went back. Simple really; to get better photos. In fact I killed two birds with one stone by bringing a visiting friend along, Maxx, who had never been in a ruin before.
Ladies with crude graffiti.
Before I get into explaining what a soapland is, and showing the photos, know that you can see my first post and original photos here. The text is more florid, the photos a bit starker, but it’s the same place alright.
So, what is a soapland? Well, it’s basically a Turkish water brothel. Until about 10 years ago they were just called ‘Turkish Baths’, until the Turkish ambassador made some formal complaint and the names were changed en masse. It’s a place to ostensibly get washed by a girl, with all kinds of other bits and pieces thrown in.
In Japan a certain degree of quasi-prostitution is generally and regularly overlooked. Massage parlors in the red-light district, ‘extra services’ available at hostess bars and love hotels, and of course soaplands, they all just about pass muster and manage to continue functioning, probably because the politicians who fail to go after them are all men and frequently use their services themselves.
As to the failure of the Queen Chateau, one can only think it was too grand a vision for the consumer base to sustain. There just wasn’t that much demand for it. Even all the smaller soaplands in the area, there’s probably 5 or 6 of them, won’t have as many rooms put together as the Chateau did alone. Certainly none of them as grand. So, it failed.
The bright red roof really makes it stand out.
Sad eyes, I think.
The lobby, fountain and mural to the right.
Lewd graffiti, the lobby.
‘You’ll die if you go up’ reads the graffiti.
A steam-chair and mural in one of the lower rooms.
Steam chair and mural in a higher room.
Up on the roof.
I realize now I didn’t take a single photo of one of the bath-tubs. How remiss of me. I guess they just weren’t very photogenic, looking much like a jacuzzi in any room, with a few leaves thrown in. You can see tubs though in photos from my first post.
You can explore more Japanese ruins (haikyo) in the galleries:[album id=4 template=compact]
You can also read SF & Fantasy stories inspired by ruins.
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