“Flash? I don’t use flash! Most photos look ugly when using flash!”
In February of 2010 I had no clue what my dear friend *Enric* was talking about. I had my first DSLR for 3 months and I had no clue about photography either. But when I was using the flash of my D90 in the darker corners of the Kasagi Sightseeing Hotel my now truly missed buddy got really upset. I didn’t think much about it, to be honest. I just picked up urban exploration and photography as a hobby, and I was happy about every decent shot I was able to take. Flash or not…
Who cares? Just let the crazy Spaniard talk! — Gosh, was I ignorant. But I really had no clue what I was doing. Couldn’t have known a good photo from a bad one even if Ansel Adams would have hit me in the face with a picture book! I continued the learning by doing process and half a year later I bought an ultra-wide angle lens and a tripod – and I guess my photos improved massively since then, probably because I barely ever used flash again. But whenever I do, I remember Enric’s words at the Kasagi Tourist Hotel…
I don’t know why it took me more than 3 years to write about the Kasagi Hotel; this is actually one of the oldest unpublished locations I had on my hard-drive – and the other ones are way less interesting! It’s probably because of the name… or its rather convenient location in walking distance of a train station… Guess which one! Although I have to admit “convenient” and “walking distance” is relative. It’s convenient and in walking distance for urban explorers. If you arrived as guests with suitcases you better took a taxi!
Although one of the most popular abandoned places in Japan for many, many years there is not much information floating around about the Kasagi Hotel. It’s widely known as a ghost spot, since rumors have it that the owner committed suicide by arson – half of the Japanese blogs writing about the place admit that they didn’t dare to enter. Or care to find out more about the hotel’s history. So here’s some information I got from reading a dented sign near the entrance and that is nowhere to be found on any Japanese blog: It seems like the Kasagi Hotel was famous for its onsen. The hot spring was fed by a spring 1200 meters below the hotel, rich in sodium and alkali. Staying at the hotel for one night including two meals was 6500 Yen, onsen only was 1000 Yen, onsen and one meal 2000 Yen.
Enric and I didn’t mind those suicide stories to scare away children and walked straight in, past the barricade that once prevented nosy people from entering; but of course it was ripped apart by some vandals by the time of our arrival. We mostly ignored the smaller storage buildings to the right and headed straight for the hotel, squeezing past another barricade made of conjugated iron, a lot more solid, but nevertheless wide open even for foreigners.
The ground floor was a pitiable sight. Half destroyed by arson and littered by bent and rusted iron it offered a sample of the general condition of the Kasagi Hotel. I guess that’s the downside of the hotel’s fame and location: It was vandalized like hardly any place I’ve been to before or after – graffiti, arson and ripped apart walls, floors, ceilings… you name it. Even two staircases were completely ripped apart, although it looked like that was done professionally and with heavy machinery; especially since there was barely any rubble left. The whole floor was dark and gloomy, with holes in the wooden floor spared by the fire. The hotel kitchen also became the victim of flames, underlining the spooky first impression.
A concrete and graffiti stained staircase in the back lead to the upper floors, but the door to the second one was blocked by a huge welded metal plate. Somebody built an improvised metal ladder from 1F to 2F, but I preferred not to climb it – especially since 2F suffered as much damage from vandals as all the other floors. Except for the ground floor and the top floor all the floors looked pretty much the same with different kinds of destructions: On one floor the toilets were completely intact, on other floors you could still see parts of the wallpaper, while on another floor the intact walls gave a good impression how big the rooms really were – the whole building was one big puzzle.
The Kasagi Hotel was one of the first 20 explorations I did and therefore everything was extremely exciting. Looking back years later it was one of the more unspectacular locations I visited; except for the view. The view was fantastic, especially from the terrace on the roof top and from the corner baths, which allowed free sight on the Kizu River ten meters below the ground floor of the hotel.
One word of warning though to all the people planning trips there to have a look themselves: I wouldn’t do it! About a year ago I went there again for a quick revisit. More about that trip later this week or early next week…