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 …
Faded glory of the Heian wedding hall
The ruined Heian Wedding Hall in Ibaraki prefecture is a far cry from the Akeno Gekijo Strip Club that preceded it. Here was a wholly wholesome building, built for the profession and binding of love’s vows, decorated in the most tasteful manner with Adam and Eve mounted on winged steeds in stained-glass friezes. Despite graffiti artists lending a flurry of darker images, amongst them switch-blade toting junkies and rabid giant spiders scuttling over everything, we both felt quite at peace while strolling the large complex’s moss-carpeted corridors and open-sky halls.
Burned ruins of Japan’s only strip club
The Akeno strip club haikyo is something of an oddity in Japan, as the only actual strip club I’ve seen here. Of course there are similar venues; hostess bars, soaplands, love hotels, but they each cater to a slightly different crowd and provide a slightly different flavor of tawdry service. To find a straight-up strip club complete with central podium, viewing seats, and dancing poles seems a feat beyond expectation. But there it is, on a small back-road in a quiet rural area surrounded by bamboo, half-burnt to the ground and buzzing with mosquitoes.
Posing with cosplayers in an abandoned factory
The Cosplay Factory Haikyo in Ibaraki is like a series of jewels bevelled so well within a crown of thorns that you wouldn’t even know they were there. Snuggled up inside a bamboo jungle and locked behind at least two sets of fences, it keeps its treasures safe- and what treasures: a NASA rocket ship boiler circa 1950, two enormous bread kilns not for baking bread, and a gaggle of Final Fantasy warriors posing for their daguerrotypes to be etched. Glorious.
The abandoned dental school that became a giant nest
The Dental School Haikyo in Ibaraki is one giant nest, a big empty shell carpeted with straw and twittering with the sound of swooping birds. Every room, corridor, and hall is scattered with their off-cast building materials, feathers, droppings, and bodies. Broken EXIT signs, fire-hose cupboards, sinks and shattered fuse-boxes all serve as their homes, stuffed with rotten straw and twigs.
Ruins of the Queen Chateau Soapland
Japan’s Queen Chateau Soapland is at once a grand but squalid folly; a ruin rising 5 fairy-tale stories into the sky, cornered with towers and capped with bright red tile, representing an era gone mad with indulgence, audacity, and hopefulness. Flanked by bamboo forests. A soapland is a kind of Japanese water-brothel, wherein customers (men, basically) go to a bedroom equipped with a bath and shower, possibly also bed, and engage in various sexual activities. Soaplands seem to exist in Japan in a curiously open fashion, flaunting the law with their obvious but veiled allusions to the services available inside. …