The very noticeable silence is a key ingredient of the whole haikyo/urban exploration experience — even more so when it’s a building more usually associated with music and laughter. A factor that makes noiseless and perfectly preserved schools especially atmospheric, and the same goes for bars with their unfinished drinks and hazy memories.
Tucked away in the corner of a long-closed and sprawling spa (photos of which I’ll post in the future), this tiny bar had more than enough silence to make up for its meagre size. And remnants of possibly the last drink to be poured there almost 22 years ago to the day, hint at what the atmosphere may have been like.
Then there are the empty request forms for karaoke, the bar’s bread and butter.
This enka track by Kanmuri Jiro being one of the choices.
A cover version of which can be heard here, which gives a fair idea of the sounds the place once reverberated to, as well as the kind of customers that used to congregate there.
In fact the names of a few them are still knowable due to the system of ‘bottle keep‘. The varying degree of alcohol left in each bottle perhaps suggesting how regular a visitor they once were.
Although it’s clear that some had more taste, or at least money, than others.
But that was many moons ago, and where they all sat and sang is silent. Ironically now a perfect compliment to enka, with its themes of love, loss and loneliness.
For the staff, however, it wasn’t just friendships to say goodbye to, but also a job, and this notebook behind the bar with its doodled ãŠã‚ã‚Š (the end) seems especially poignant.
Excellent shots, Lee! I’m intrigued by the notebook, that acknowledgement seems unusual in these settings.
Thanks, Don! Yeah, I’ve never come across anyhing quite like that before. Certainly poignant, although of course there are no guarantees it was written by the staff. Or indeed if it was written when the bar was in operation. One of those mysteries that haikyo always throw up.
Meow â€¢ Totoro Times says
For one moment I got the chills… it is not in Shinjuku, right? And are the bottles empty? 🙂
Nah, not Shinjuku. You know of a place there…?
There was actually quite a bit of booze left, but I wasn’t really tempted by the Jinro. If there had been lots of unopened wine bottles on the other hand, it might have been a very different story!
Martin B says
It always seems so sad seeing toys left in abandoned buildings, a childs special friend that won’t be around to be hugged when needed.
Yeah, it’s the personal stuff left behind that really makes many haikyo what they are.
Phil J says
Another great post, thanks Lee!
Question – Why are the haikyo you visit just abandoned and not closed? Usually establishments are boxed up and emptied before the owners leave.
I often wonder this myself. It seems so odd, especially for a business, to just be left with so much stuff left behind. Some with so much stuff they have a definite “Lost Colony” feeling to them.
That’s a very good question, and one I can’t really answer. At least not with any real certainty. It does, however, cost a lot of money to move stuff out, and as most of the places I visit have gone bankrupt, I presume there just wasn’t the money there to do that. Or indeed the will to do so…
Why is the mic, nuigurumi and glass so clean when everything else is covered in a thick layer of dust? 😉 did someone enhance the shots a bit?
Haha, good question!
Sadly we weren’t the first there. It’s not actually dust. As with many haikyo, a fire extinguisher had been let off in the room, so some of the stuff had obviously been touched. If you look at the bottles of Jinro, you can see that somebody has used spray paint too. Thankfully though nothing had been smashed up.
I particularly liked your reflection on Enka. Very fitting indeed. Sort of a wild west tumbleweed blowing through a ghost town, in the Japanese mode.
Thanks, Willy. It did seem very apt. Exactly as you describe it in fact.
i’m going to tokyo in a week and i would like to visit places like this, abandoned! i’m a lover of abandoned houses or whatever, bildings, shops, bars…, because i love to take photographs of them.
Could you tell me, here or by mail, where can i find this amazing places in tokyo?
thank you so much.
Sorry to say it’s not in Tokyo. None of the places are in fact. They all require a car and invariably quite a long drive.
Have you ever heard of/thought of going to Gunkanjima? I recently moved to Nagasaki and have been hearing a lot about it, seems like somewhere you’d be interested in photographing!
Yeah, I have. Actually went there once, but it was too choppy and they couldn’t dock the boat…
I would love to go again though. It has been done to death, but I’d still like to explore and photograph it.
Being so near, you really should give it a try.
Susan Rogers says
Lovely photos Lee! Have you thought about putting together a coffee table book? So many people would find theses photos interesting, especially if you had some history or first account stories to go with them.
Thanks a lot, Susan.
No, I haven’t, but given the opportunity, I’d love to. I’ve seen a few haikyo books, so there is certainly an interest.
Mark E says
Of course it’s always interesting to see what gets left behind and speculate on the story behind it. I am presently ruminating over the last picture…why someone would leave their glasses behind…and not come back for them.
Maybe it was a spare pair…forgotten when they left the place?
That’s a good question, but they may not be prescription glasses. It’s not unusual to see cheap glasses in public places to help people read documents etc. They could well be a pair of those.
Looks nice! Well, for an abandoned place, that is…
It is a nice blog. I do love your photos of details. I have just moved to Kobe about 2 weeks ago. I hope I can do some haikyo here some day soon too.
Thanks. Away from the city, I’m sure you’ll find a few. Just keep your eyes open.
I read this while listening to the enka song you shared. It added so much! Such loss! Such sadness! But a bittersweet kind. So beautiful! Thank you as always for sharing, Lee!
You are welcome. All being well I should be visiting some more soon. Just hope they are still there.
Jordy â€¢ Totoro Times says
I don’t know when you went, but everything is exactly in the same position as on your photos. This spa is probably really not visited often…
Not the greatest of haikyo, but it’s good to know it hasn’t been damaged at all.