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Haikyo / Ruins Gankutsu Rock Hotel Haikyo
(Entered Jul. 12, 2010)
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The Gankutsu Hotel (though not actually a real hotel) was apparently dug out in the early 1900s by just one man, using only a chisel. He worked on it for 21 years so the story goes, until he died at age 67, leaving his project uncompleted. After his death, some other people tried to finish it, covering the exterior with a plaster facade to make it look like a real hotel. However it was eventually shut down, the facade removed, and the exterior fenced and barbwired off after some of the rooms caved in and the whole place was deemed unsafe.

haikyo gankutsu rock hotel

I admit that the story sounds a bit like an urban legend to me, and viewed from the outside it looks fairly uninspiring, a couple of rough windows and entrances in the cliff face. However once you're inside and get a feel for the depth of the place, you start to think about the effort, time and sheer willpower that must've been involved for a single person to do this on his own. Even if it's only partly true, you can't help but be awed.

haikyo gankutsu rock hotel cave

MJG, Scott and I headed up to here on a rainy Sunday afternoon, which was maybe not the best time to visit as cars were constantly whizzing by on the road behind us, making a discreet entry difficult. Not only that, an old lady working in a shop across the street seemed to instinctively know what we were about, staring at us non-stop as we tried to inconspicously scope the place out.
We eventually managed to enter unobserved though. It seems that all haikyos, no matter how impenetrable they might appear, have a weak spot, a place where a determined haikyoist can enter.

haikyo gankutsu rock hotel cave

There are two main areas to the interior, the 'hotel' section and another much larger cave section. It's not hard to accept the idea that one guy dug out the hotel section, but the cave section is a different matter, and it's obvious from a glance that one person would never have managed to dig it out alone no matter how many lifetimes he had. For one thing, where the hotel section is narrow, cramped, and has ceilings that almost brush your head, the cave section is massive, with ceilings maybe 5-6 meters high, and streches interminably into the blackness. What it was used for is unclear, but there seems to be some idea that it was a WWII munitions dump or storage area.

haikyo gankutsu rock hotel cave

Both the two areas were interesting, but as the hotel section was restricted and narrow, not to mention being full of these monstrous, black cricket things, we spent more time in the larger, better lit, cave section.
You can see the space difference between the cave section (above photos) and the smaller, darker 'hotel' section (below photos).

haikyo gankutsu rock hotel cave

Though it was called a 'hotel' I doubt any sane person would've ever stayed overnight here. Not only were those above mentioned bugs crawling around, but there was fine grained grit and dirt everywhere, including in the air. Not a place you really want to spend too much time in. It was remarkably cool inside though, and admittedly was a nice break from the humidity and sweat waiting for us outside.

haikyo gankutsu rock hotel cave

I've been to about 30 different haikyo (ruins) in Japan now, some amazing, some so so, and some so dull I never even bothered to post them, but this is the last haikyo I will do in Japan, at least for the foreseeable future. Big thanks to MJG, who's been the organizer and guide for every haikyo I've done (excepting only one). I'm happy to say that my last Japan haikyo was a good one!


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