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:
Pearl Love Hotel Haikyo from Michael John Grist on Vimeo.
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:
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Outstanding ruin and you got some wonderful shots. I especially like the close up shot of all the trinkets. As for your over-exposed blank and white shot, I think it looks great, it would be interesting to see the original shot pre-effects.
Can’t wait to see the rest of your trip.
Freaky. That gave me the creeps. I guess you could easily stumble onto something untoward one day. I hope not, but I guess you never know…
Wow, it’s really amazing how the whole place has been covered with foliage, looks like a nest, very nice!
Some lovely shots there Mike. Your best ones up to now in my opinion. Great stuff.
Adam- Thanks- glad you appreciated the trinkets, I thought that was interesting to clash with shattered glass. The black and white one, you can see quite a similar shot pre-effects on Mike’s website, the link is under ‘alternate’ in the fact-file.
Alice- It was a creepy, both me and Mike felt weirded out in the homeless guy’s nest.
Leongsoon- True, the whole place looks like a nest. I guess if we had been a bit later, some of those vines would have been in bloom, all green and much harder to plough through.
Lee- Cheers, I’ve been trying to cut down the number of shots I display to just the better ones.
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I wish there were more pictures of the room with the yanked down tarps, it looks like a mess, but at the same time it’s interesting and mysterious. I’m guessing that’s the room that you referring to as human nest. I can’t help but look at upwards at the ceiling wondering what it must look like. Seeing cardboard and newspaper hanging from it is very interesting too.
Why do you think that room was like that? And also, what the hell does a Cathedral that looks like Notre Dame De Paris on the windows have anything to do with a hotel where people go to supposedly make love. Hahah that’s funny.
Chris- Yeah, that whole room was really creepy. A human nest. The two adjoining rooms (a sitting room and a bathroom) were also completely taped up and nailed down with tarps over the windows. At first I was thinking I`d walked into some kind of dungeon, and got afraid I`d find a dead body or something. Of course I didn`t. While it would have made an effective prison, I figured it was probably the home of a homeless person who had gone to great lengths to insulate it. I don`t think I have any more photos though.
Notre Dame, good point. Love Hotels are weird.
MJG- Love hotels are indeed weird. I’m thinking the same thing about a homeless person wanting the place to be completely insulated and thus; that’s why it looks like that, but who knows. That’s the mystery of it all.
Great work by the way. Japanese ruins seem to have so much detail because people don’t clean these places out, it’s as though they still have life in them, with the furniture and electronics almost always still being present. Quite interesting.
So creepy some of those ruins! Would love to visit Haikyo, very lucky indeed.