Kitayoshimi, Yoshimi Town, Hiki District.
|Guided tours:||self guided|
|Address:||Gankutsu Hotel, Kitayoshimi, Yoshimi Town, Hiki District, Saitama Prefecture 355-0155.|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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|1904||begin of construction by Minekichi Takahashi, a local farmer.|
|1925||Minekichi Takahashis death.|
|1982||damaged by a typhoon.|
|1987||damaged by a typhoon.|
|~1990||Takahashi’s son died.|
The 巌窟ホテル (Gankutsu Hotel, Cave Hotel) is a fake hotel created by Minekichi Takahashi, a local strawberry farmer. In 1904 he started to dig into the tuff only with a chisel and a hammer in his hands. He actually intended to make a sake brewery and cellar out of the cliff. For some reason only he could explain he actually dug only very few actual rooms. Mostly he dug window holes and doors and chiseled a pattern into the wall which made it look like the facade of a western house. The neighbours started to talk that he was digging a cave, then as it resembled a Mediterranean Luxury Hotel they called it Iwagaku Hotel (Rock Studies Hotel) or Gankutsu Hotel (Cave Hotel). A legend say they actually said “gankutsu hotteru” meaning "he’s digging the caves” which was then confused with the word hoteru, the Japanese Word for hotel. Takahashi himself named it Kosokan. When he died in 1925 his son took over the work.
At that time it had become a major tourist spot in the area, and even The London Times published an article about the work of art. During World War II the site was closed down and there is a rumour that a new tunnel was dug to make a factory for the military. Its hard to say if this is true, because the site is private property and fenced off and it is not allowed to visit. At first it was managed by Takahashi’s son, who reopened it after World War II. He added some strange metal structures in front which resemble a rusted playground. At first the site was quite popular for some decades, but when the facade was damaged twice by a typhoon in the 1980s, repair works would have been necessary. But Takahashi’s son was old and died soon after, and it seems there was no successor interested in maintaining the site. It has been closed ever since.
Today the site is fenced off and it is not possible to enter. On the other side, there is not much except the facade itself, and you can actually see it well from the fence. The site has some fame among Japanese haikyo (ruin) aficionados and ghost hunters. Some claim that restless spirits haunt the second-floor windows.