What an amazing experience. So few things can match the feeling of walking through the past, through other people’s memories and experiences, and trying to imagine for yourself what it must have been like. Yet another way for us all to connect in the past, present, and future.
Someone has gone onto Japanese pages for me and deciphered some information about the history of the hotel. It does appear that the hotel was, in fact, built in 1929. One of the problems for the general public with the hotel, was that it wasn’t very accessible. You could only reach it by taking the ropeway. There were no roads for cars or anything. In 1944, the cable car was shut down, so the hotel closed the following year. No one could reach it! Why was the cable car shut down? That’s a great question and at this time, I do not have an answer. The hotel was never repaired after the wartime airstrikes and in 1961, a new owner came onboard and re-opened the hotel. Typhoons hit the area and in 1967, the cable car was shut down again. I’ve seen conflicting dates on this last bit of information: on one site I read 1994, on the other, 1974…but, regardless of which one is accurate, one of these years was the last time it was really active (with various student groups and some actual residents.) That’s all I know right now, but I’ll never stop trying to get the answers to this mystery.
Urban ‘tales’ claim that the tire you see in the pictures below, is from a B-29 bomber plane during WWll. I cannot find any information that substantiates this. FACT: There was a specific bombing campaign carried out on Kobe on March 16 & 17, 1945, as well as on a few dates after that, but I’m still not even sure that it’s true that this hotel was built around 1929-1932 and was actually around during the war. Most clues do lead to the fact that the tire is really from a B-29 bomber, but there’s no evidence to say it fell off a plane onto the hotel during the war or anything like that. Instead, it is likely, that a couple of things could have happened. It really could have fallen off of a B-29 almost anywhere on the mountain and from various earthquakes and such, it could have shifted over the years, to the area of the hotel. Also, it is quite possible that people carried it to the hotel to live among the various ‘props’ that have surfaced there (ex. red sofa, clearly not there when the hotel was in operation). Who knows? And that is part of the mysterious charm that this haikyo has over its visitors.
I can’t write much here because I just don’t have any facts that I trust. You can look on other blogs and read ‘urban legend’-type stories about the Maya Hotel, but I just don’t know what to believe. What I have seen consistently, is that it was built somewhere between 1929 and 1932, yet, when I spoke to a fellow urban explorer at the ‘forbidden’ site today, he swore it was only like 50 years old and built after the war. But, I don’t think so, because I read too many things referring to its renovation ‘after the war.’
FACT: It is illegal to explore this haikyo (“ruin” in Japanese.) Staff at the nearby ropeway station WILL call the police if they see anyone walking around the hotel. No trespassing – and I believe it is less about the Japanese being ‘adventure spoilers,’ and more to do with the fact that it is condemned due to disintegrating rafters and floorboards, and it is simply not safe to walk around it unless you are completely focused on each step (lots of shattered glass lying around, lots of glass shards exposed on broken frames) and unless, you are willing to forego risky maneuvers. I, for one, wanted desperately to go to the top floor, but after serious consultation with my co-explorer, it was decided that the ladder steps weren’t secure, nor was the thin iron ladder that only led to a single plank that I would have had to balance-beam across to get to a flat surface. Just not worth it.
FACT #2: You CAN make it happen, though. We started climbing Mt. Maya at around 630am and reached the first ropeway station at around 730am. We then crept into the station and hopped a small white gate and from there, we could see the hotel through the trees. The goal is to make it to the hotel before the ropeway opens at 830am. That’s when staff are walking around and taking notice of hikers walking toward and around the hotel. And, too many stories floating around, confirming that they WILL call the police…so hike up early before they arrive!