Before the 90s economic collapse, this is what the future was going to look like for Japan.
Boom town Tokyo used to build the future in its own eccentric image. Stuff like this long forgotten futurist space base used to make sense out here. Today though, as it looms on the horizon in casual disrepair, it's more a testament to the country's 90s collapse, when the Japanese techno dreams slipped modestly back in line with the rest of the world's only marginally more sustainable aspirations.
I used to live in Kochi, one of Japan's poorest, forgotten hick towns, situated on the isolated south of one of its most rural islands. Back in the day, even this geographically and infrastructurally isolated outpost was flushed with endless yen from urban developers, but then, like in the rest of Japan, the money disappeared. On its outskirts is a thick coastal mountain range, and it's there that this ridiculous, smiling space building lives.
At first we thought it was an abandoned honey-mooner's hotel, but there were no bedrooms.
Most of the facades were so structurally ravaged that their fronts had collapsed to the ground, and the reception was full of smashed up arcade machines, dirty soiled bedding and the obligatory Hello Kitty cushion.
The spine of the ghost building's modernist exoskeleton was stacked with modular function rooms and it was crowned by mildly-threatening, other-worldly chimney/port-hole amalgams. It was all quite gas chamber.
Lower level lounge bars gave way to over-grown kitchens and the largest hall stank of the rotten woven tatami flooring that had subsided into the floor, leaving it sodden and unnerving.
The space between each flight of stairs was about about 4ft 9”, proving that this was built only to be seen and used by very small Japanese people.
This massive symbol painted on the wall is the Japanese character for 'Curse'.
A reassuring thing to discover in this trendy coffin.
Though ultimately we weren't perturbed enough by the 'curse' to turn down this killer photo opp. Here's me wishing I hadn't come dressed as a cross between Ace Ventura, Pet Detective and a knife-wielding 15-year-old scallie – but then what does one wear whilst exploring a dilapidated, abandoned Japanese space base?
WORDS AND PHOTOS BY ALEX HOBAN
If you’re doing something interesting in a place that isn’t Shoreditch and that might make for a good Atlas Hoods story, send pictures and info to email@example.com and we’ll be in touch.