The Japan BE Laboratory may well sound like a science-based business of some kind or other, but actually, this rapidly decaying retreat near the equally ramshackle hot spring resort of Atami, a couple of hours from Tokyo, was instead centred around assisting those labelled as lacking in self confidence.
A place that fortunately, like many of Japan’s ruins (or haikyo), was pretty much effortless to enter.
Inside, however, nature and the vigour of a few vandals have really taken their toll, although considering the place’s past purpose, it’s still not hard to imagine the reticence of those reclining,
and no doubt declining, to tackle a couple of turns at table tennis.
And more than likely,
far from just a few beers would have been gulped down in the hope of garnering the necessary gumption for a game of golf.
In fact, even for the staff, an insufficiency in assertiveness wouldn’t have seemed too out of place as, with a till and telephone combination as complicated as this contraption,
tablets may well have had to be taken.
Quite possibly washed down with something cold from the kitchen.
But besides competitiveness and state-of-the-art technology for its time, this semi-secluded spot did have its serious, and possibly slightly suspect, side. As, while more mundane methods such as meetings were obviously still a mainstay,
it’s possible that other, more atypical techniques were tried out. One in particular which, while decidedly difficult to decipher, involved two windowless rooms that were sealed on one side by stainless steel doors and offered two extremely contrasting forms of expression — the more conventional karaoke, disks for which there was certainly no dearth of,
and the rather more unusual practice of writing willy-nilly on the walls.
The jumbled mass of messages dating from when the centre seems to have ceased operations in 1999, to some done a decade or so earlier.
None of which really shed much light on what the purpose or procedure was,
although by candle light it certainly seemed sinister, making the lobby appear far more appealing than it actually was.
In part 2, I take a look at the private rooms for the patrons, and some of the belongings they left behind. Plus a couple of surprises that caused far more concern rather than confidence.
Beautiful shots, as always. Thanks!
By the way, are you using strictly natural lighting for the first 9 photos, or a flash with a diffuser in any of them? Most look very natural, but there are a couple I can’t quite decide on.
No, strictly natural lighting for all but the graffitied rooms. With the glass now gone from the windows along with most of the curtains, there was just enough natural light for pretty much all the shots I wanted to take. The best lighting being in the meeting room, where what remained of the curtains gave it a lovely blue hue.
As we forgot to bring along a torch, we were lucky enough to find some candles at the reception, which not only made for some interesting shadows in the windowless rooms, but also for a very atmospheric — and admittedly quite unsettling –exploration.
Breathe taking as always Lee!
I really enjoy these stories. Wish I could find some near where I live……….
Candles! What an excellent idea- certain to un-nerve with every breath of wind making the shadows change. Exploring old school, I like it.
Was considering this place for a haikyo road trip myself last weekend- we ended up going to Tochigi and Ibaraki instead. We visited 7 locations, 3 of which were demolished. Let me know if you’re headed that way and I can steer you clear of the defunct ones.
I liked the first 3 photos best- what lens? A lot of your shots I think you’re using f1.4 right? I tried that but get annoyed by how confined the possible shot is.
Also on a sidenote- could you tell me what widget/plugin you’re using for your bookmarks? I’ve wanted roll-over bookmarks for ages but haven’t yet found them. Cheers!
Yeah, the candles certainly added to atmosphere Mike, but a torch would have been much more comfortable!
Will definitely be in touch about the other places. Fast running out of those doable in a day.
Lens wise for this haikyo (and the Sagamiko love hotel) I used the Nikon 35mm f/2, which was just about manageable in the confined space. Plus at f/2 it negated the need for artificial light — bar the windowless rooms of course.
Not quite sure what you mean about roll-over bookmarks. Happy to help though once I know what you mean!
f2 hmm, and 35mm sounds good enough to get most shots i supose. nice, more light through the lens the better.
The bookmarks thing- you see underneath your post- where it says ‘Share’, then are a line of little icons? Those are the bookmarks. Perhaps though they came already in your theme, since you’d have to have installed them separately if they didn’t- then you’d probably know what they were.
We need another haikyo resource!
Ah ok. Sorry, I was a bit slow off the mark there. Know exactly what you mean now. A few drinks too many I’m afraid…
It’s the Sociable plugin you want. Once installed you can choose what option/sites you want. Very easy to set up.
Totally agree about another resource. Saw a (possibly) new haikyo photo book in Kinokuniya today, but there was little information — let alone maps — of the places pictured.
Cheers Lee, I’ll try it out.
New book, seems like none of the others have maps: people unwilling to share their findings. I suppose I’m the same way- but regularly feel torn about whether I should or not; why not just put it all out there for everyone? But then, hmmm…
I like the detail in the first doorknob shot Lee, and the lighting in the 3 purple-ish folding chair shot.
I’ve been telling MJG about how I really think off camera flash can produce unique haikyo shots, but he isn’t on board with that idea.
Now that I’m back in Florida I’m on my own for finding haikyo, but hope to go to one soon and experiment with off-camera flash lighting. I did find a small motel haikyo, but the rooms were really small, not even worth walking into and was pressed for time. I did use off camera flash for fill-light.
Adrian Tan says
Really like the photo of chairs like the balance of the blacks and blues and how it goes with the orange wall. The bookshelf is nice too, reminds me of some Victorian horror movie and Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Look forward to part 2.
Btw thanks for checking out my stuff.
@MJG I know what you mean Michael, and I’m just as guilty at not giving exact locations away, but I wish other people would!
@Jason Not sure about the flash myself. I’m a big fan of the unusual light that you sometimes get in a haikyo (like those chairs for example), and I like to use shadows as much as possible. That said, it would probably help produce some very different looking shots so look forward to seeing how your pics come out.
@Adrian Cheers, and you are more than welcome. Enjoyed looking through your pictures.
Great, great shots. I’ve been to Atami, and seen ruined houses like this one, although I’ve never thought about entering them. This series of photos, on its own, could be the basis of a novel or screenplay. Japan is full of unsuspected corners, you never know what you’ll come across.
I placed a scene from my novel in Atami, actually. The town’s been on my mind from the days when I’d catch glimpses of it from the bullet train as I’d go from Tokyo to Osaka. From the first time I glimpsed it until I finally went there, probably 10 years had passed. Ah, time. Oh, life.
Great pictures as usual ^^