All across the countryside of Japan lie abandoned buildings. Old shopping malls, ramshackle theme parks, once lavish hotels — all evidence of Japan’s economic boom (and subsequent bust) in the 90s. Haikyo, Japanese for ruins, is the exploration (and often photography) of these incredible, crumbling sites.
I’ve visited abandoned onsen hotels throughout Ishikawa, generally snapping a few photos of the outside and being on my way. Entering can be risky. Who knows how structurally stable an abandoned building is? Most owners have taken some measures to prohibit entry, blocking doorways and access roads. But for the more adventurous explorers Kannon Onsen Hotel is an intriguing, accessible site for haikyo.
Kannon Onsen Hotel is divided into two large multi-story buildings, connected by an outdoor staircase. One half houses the old hotel, full of several stories of now empty tatami rooms. To the other side lies the reception hall. Papers cover the floor, and a calendar still hangs on the wall of the office, as if the employees simply went home one day and no one ever returned.
The reception hall is filled with a grand staircase, adorned with a gold Buddha statue and an opulent, dangling chandelier.
Past the reception hall lies the separate men’s and women’s changing rooms, which lead to the original onsen itself. The pools were drained long ago, and plants seem to be taking back over the area. Dead leaves cover the floor yet the decorations and bath supplies were never removed. During the day, sun streams in through the floor to ceiling windows.
From the outdoor bath area, you can catch a glimpse of the towering Buddha statue, Kannon.
Just behind the onsen hotel you can visit Kaga Temple, the home of Kannon, a towering statue of Buddha that is visible from miles and miles away. Once you pass through the towering gate, the temple groundskeeper will approach you and ask for a small fee. The temple complex is made of several different buildings, each housing something fascinating. One contains a massive drum, another tiny models of famous religious sites around the globe, and by far the most astoning, one building houses an army of hundreds of elaborate golden statues, each with its own distinct design.
How to get there: Kannon Onsen Hotel is a short walk from Kagaonsen Station. Once you arrive walk towards the massive Buddha statue, visible from anywhere nearby. Be sure to visit the abandoned hotel first and follow it up by visiting Kaga Temple afterwards. By car, the hotel’s parking lot is still accessible. GoogleMaps link to the temple here.