After the conflagration: a ruined Tokyo dormitory

Mike GristHaikyo, Residential, Tokyo-to 22 Comments

In 2007 the Seika Dormitory in central Tokyo went up in flames. The roof was burnt away and flames roared up the building’s old stairways and licked at rooms full of possessions, melting and burning some unrecognizably, leaving others coated in a thick mask of sticky black ash.

Skeletal roof girders remain.

Did anyone die in the Dormitory fire? I don’t know. I hope not, but so many of the rooms were left with so much stuff that seemed still in good-ish condition (heaps of books, vinyl records, clothes, diaries, photo albums) that I have to wonder. The dormitory was for Chinese exchange students to stay at, so hopefully they just decided not to go back and salvage anything

I felt quite uncomfortable wandering around this haikyo. The abundance of personal stuff left in rooms, everywhere, sometimes unburnt, sometimes melted beyond recognition, coupled with the very recent date of accident (2007) made me feel like a kind of ghoul. I don’t want to feel that way, and it’s not the reason I go to haikyo. I’m more interested in older ruins and more impersonal ones, where nature has invaded and altered the place. In those ruins you can get the sense of a new beginning even in the death of a structure.

In the Seika dormitory it just stank of death and sadness, dreams perhaps burnt away, lives left half-lived then abruptly cut off- whether anyone died there or not.

Overwhelmingly it felt sad to be inside.

Central hall, flanked by 4 rooms either side, 3 stories high.

One of the lesser-burnt rooms. Perhaps it has been ransacked for valuable already, with all the boxes lying around.

One of the worse-burnt rooms. Everything here is charred rubble.

A chair on a bed, I don’t know why.

Melted washing machine.

Melted keyboard.

As a result I guess I didn’t photograph the individual rooms that much. They just seemed too individual. In one room clothes were laid out on the bed as if to be worn the next day. In another room a child’s diary filled with colorful drawings poked its head out of a desk drawer. Who was I to come and rifle through these things?

So mostly I stuck to the structure. When I emerged onto the roof I actually felt some of the weight slough off. It felt good to be back in the open air, able to pretend this was just another ruin with a great view of the city.

A little overgrowth does the heart good.

Peeking back into the destruction.

Overlooking from the top perch.

A half and half view.

Glimpsing the exterior.

I had an idea of something fun and playful to do with the video at my next haikyo, but this didn’t seem the place to try it out. Maybe the next one.

Finally- credit where credit is due- I heard about this location from Jordy at and Ikumi at Tomboy Urbex.

See more explores in the Ruins / Haikyo galleries-

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You might like my dark fiction here, inspired by ruins.

Comments 22

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      Cheers, and actually a couple of mild HDR- first shot, the split roof shot with horizon and interior. Not keen on the grungey HDR style anymore.

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  1. Wow. I’m also amazed this ruin would remain in central Tokyo. I’ve always wanted to do haikyo in Japan, but I haven’t found any one to show me the ropes. If you have any tips or advice for a good place to start (around Mie-ken), please let me know.

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      Hi Astroviper- the best I’d say is start researching on the net or buy a few haikyo books. Also there may some Japanese haikyoists who’ll take you around, if you start posting on their sites.

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  2. It’s so sad to see these photos. My house was burned down last January 2010 and the nightmare still keeps on haunting me especially when I hear sirens from the firetrucks.

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      It must be awful to experience something like that Ayesha. The closest I’ve come is this kind of wandering through the ruins of a fire, and that was plenty uncomfortable enough. Best wishes getting over the bad memories.

  3. You must visit Malaysia one day, MJG. There are plenty of really creepy abandoned buildings all over the country, and there are even homes that were left to rot because grisly murders took place over there. Never demolished..


    Fire in Japan on Friday, 20 July, 2007 at 08:36 (08:36 AM) UTC.
    Two women were killed and seven other people were injured when an apartment building for foreigners in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo, was almost destroyed by fire Thursday morning, police said.The fire broke out at 4:55 a.m., gutting Seika-ryo, a 1,800-square meter, three-story reinforced concrete structure, according to the police.The police are trying to identify the deceased–believed to be residents of the building–whose bodies were found in a room on the third floor, the police said.A man in his 30s, who lives on the second floor of the building, called the fire department saying the fire had started after he fell asleep while smoking in bed.The building was originally built as a foreign student dormitory by a foundation established by the Japanese governor general of Taiwan in 1927

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  5. I walked around the Seika Dorms the other day and took some pics. I’m so glad I saw your site. It was definitely worth seeing, tho like you said the whole place felt “off.” I wasn’t able to walk in, tho, because there were some mysterious fancy cars parked under a makeshift roof outside and several tents up nearby. I dunno, probably just some homeless living there now, but the cars made me pause. As an American, my crackhouse radar went off and told me not to go peeking around too much.

  6. Could anybody direct me to where this exactly is? I am doing a final project for my urban studiies class and I would like to visit this dorm for my project, but everyone seems so tight lipped about any of these places. Well, if anyone could help me out please email me at

  7. I used to live there back in 1980-90, left due to immigrate to Canada, on the 2nd floor room 208, we paid 8000 yen per month (all included water & electric), I understand that there were one big family on the first floor from Taiwan, couple with several children with them. This dormitory help us through expensive Tokyo days…, we managed ourselves, so no one owns this property.

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