THE SHAH BAY "GHOST HOTEL" in OKINAWA -- TAKEN DOWN BY THE WRECKING CREW
[ANNOUNCEMENT : In June 2013, this Hotel, after being derelict for the past 18 years, began preparations to get broken down. The actual razing of the structure began in February 2014, and was stopped in March 2014, with two floors remaining --- perhaps they ran out of money to pay the wrecking crew. According to the new owner, he wants to re-build with the same hope and dreams of the original owners who first opened for business here back in 1986. But for now, the spooky days of the SHAH BAY "GHOST HOTEL" as seen in the photo are gone forever (well, except for the bare bones of the bottom two floors). It was fun while it lasted. Cheers ~ !]
THE HOTEL AS IT WAS FOR THE PAST 18 YEARS :
At night, when trespassers and looky-loos have gone home, the spirits of the dead move in from the surrounding jungle to float aimlessly through the rooms. Tragically, their soft wailing and anguished whimpering on even the darkest of the blackest nights is not enough to bring relief, nor are the winds which rip through the bloodthirsty glass of the broken windows enough to sooth the eternal torture of their souls trapped in limbo.
When the Sun begins to lighten the sky, they waft again into the neighboring jungles to possess the wild boar like hell-bent demons. Their black and beady eyes watch from hidden spots on the hills above, as the laughing trespassers on the Hotel grounds below take their photos, mock the dead, and wonder why the dripping hallways they are in suddenly grow dark with no explanation....
♫ ♪ . . . WELCOME TO THE HOTEL
CALIFORNIA SHAH BAY --- R.I.P. 1986-1995
With high expectations, the SHAH BAY Hotel and Resort opened it doors for business in 1986.
"National Olympics" fever had gripped the whole island in preparation for the premier sporting event that was to be held in Okinawa the following year. Emperor Akihito was expected to be a guest for the rowing competitions that were to be held on Shioya Bay, the pretty body of water spread out below the Hotel in an impressive panoramic vista.
The builder was a local Ogimi Township resident whose business success in Naha City allowed him to erect this Hotel with high hopes for the National Olympics and beyond. However, these hopes were short lived, and after the politically troubled Olympics of 1987 had passed, a more daunting situation arose. From 1989 through 1993, the bursting of Japan's economic bubble killed off needed tourism to northern Okinawa, and with only a trickle of customers, the Hotel was forced to close its doors less than 10 years after opening.
Since 1995 --- 17 years ago as I write this --- the deserted Hotel has been turned over to the ravaging forces of typhoons, the slow incursion of the surrounding jungle, and last but not least, the silent residence of mysterious forces and ghostly apparitions seen only by those who believe in them.
SHAH BAY RESORT was named after the SHAH BAY name of a nice little1853 American survey map that depicted this area. It can be found folded up in the back of Vol.2 of Commodore Perry's JAPAN EXPEDITION, published in 1858 by the U.S. Government.
"Shah" [meaning salt] is the old Okinawan language word for both the town and the bay.
The owner of the hotel was taken with the old English label on Perry's map, and decided that would be a great name for their new enterprise. In fact (just like throughout the rest of Japan) there was a LOT of English used all over this Hotel. I remember dinning in their roof-top GOLDEN SHOWER restaurant thinking, "Hmmmm....are the waitresses here going to give me something more than the meal I ordered.....?"
Although not as spooky as the smaller Nakagusuku Castle Hotel in the south, this one is much bigger....and respectfully well preserved by the more mature and serious "Ghost Hunters" and photographers who make it up here.
The numerous buildings --- many with their windows having been blown out by typhoons --- over-grown gardens, and extensive detached villas offer endless places to shoot some really cool images.
Guys can always try taking their girlfriends up here after telling them that "....three years ago, a young couple went to explore the place, and, after going in through a broken side door, they never came out, and their bodies were never found.... ".
While some doors are locked, others are open, and the "Haunted Hallways" are lined with rooms that still have all of the furniture in place, and the beds ready to sleep on.....if you don't mind the mold, spiders, and centipedes hiding in every crack and fold.
The "Ghost Hotel" is at the top of the high ridge, a 1.8 km drive from Route 331 at the bottom. The Hotel entry drive is chained-off, and the through-road bears to the left. Here, you can also continue on your mountain drive through other valleys and even higher peaks. As for the 300-yard chained-off walk up to the Hotel itself, please read the following :
IMPORTANT NOTICE : Although other portions of the property, and at least one building have no fencing or restrictions to entry, the main hotel and cottages do have NO TRESPASSING signs posted (in Japanese only). I have no authority to invite you in, and must state that this caption is not a legal endorsement for you to trespass on the property. However, knowing that the NO TRESPASSING signs have not deterred the endless visits by "Ghost Busters" who cannot resist the temptation, I offer the following warning :
U.S. MILITARY PERSONNEL who read this should be aware that --- if not careful, and as with other such properties on Okinawa --- there is a risk of injury due to scattered doors, windows, and floors being lined with jagged glass blown out by previous typhoons. Further, there exists a possibility of death while enjoying the fantastic vistas offered from the roof-top outside the GOLDEN SHOWER RESTAURANT --- a six-story-high perch that has NO FENCE OR WALL to prevent you from getting blown off by a wind gust if you stand too close to the edge ~ ! On the other hand, the true 7th Floor Roof is completely walled, and gives the highest and widest panoramic views.
RESPECT FOR FUTURE GHOST HUNTERS and PHOTOGRAPHERS : For 18 years, all comers to this hotel have not vandalized or desecrated it. Until recently, graffiti artists and taggers have exempted it (and even now the graffiti in minimal), allowing each person who "stumbles" upon it to be the "first" to explore, or use it in it's natural state as an unusual "prop" for all kinds of photography.
Rather than pilfering or stealing, "Ghost hunters" like myself have taken taken an opposite tack --- leaving something behind in the now ravaged gift shop before heading home. Perhaps this only abandoned Hotel that has made a truce with vandals, and where the inventory grows at the hands of thoughtful trespassers who appreciate the chance to explore such a skeletal beast.
Amazingly, everything from the glasses, dishes, and sake bottles in the restaurants, to the linens on the beds, to the napkins on the the tables, to the furniture in the rooms, almost everything remains in its slow state of decay. Only the ravaging forces of the wind and rain from powerful typhoons have left their mark.
Please leave it as you find it for those that come after, just as those who came before left it for you.
♦ ♦ ♦ SOME NICE SHOTS taken IN THE HOTEL by ABANDONED HOTEL FAN WolfyD :
RANDOM SOBA : www.flickriver.com/photos/24443965@N08/random/