An abandoned Japanese karaoke bar

The very noticeable silence is a key ingredient of the whole haikyo/urban exploration experience — even more so when it’s a building more usually associated with music and laughter. A factor that makes noiseless and perfectly preserved schools especially atmospheric, and the same goes for bars with their unfinished drinks and hazy memories.

abandoned Japanese karaoke bar

Tucked away in the corner of a long-closed and sprawling spa (photos of which I’ll post in the future), this tiny bar had more than enough silence to make up for its meagre size. And remnants of possibly the last drink to be poured there almost 22 years ago to the day, hint at what the atmosphere may have been like.

abandoned Japanese karaoke bar

Then there are the empty request forms for karaoke, the bar’s bread and butter.

abandoned Japanese karaoke bar

This enka track by Kanmuri Jiro being one of the choices.

abandoned Japanese karaoke bar

A cover version of which can be heard here, which gives a fair idea of the sounds the place once reverberated to, as well as the kind of customers that used to congregate there.

In fact the names of a few them are still knowable due to the system of ‘bottle keep’. The varying degree of alcohol left in each bottle perhaps suggesting how regular a visitor they once were.

abandoned Japanese karaoke bar

Although it’s clear that some had more taste, or at least money, than others.

abandoned Japanese karaoke bar

But that was many moons ago, and where they all sat and sang is silent. Ironically now a perfect compliment to enka, with its themes of love, loss and loneliness.

abandoned Japanese karaoke bar

For the staff, however, it wasn’t just friendships to say goodbye to, but also a job, and this notebook behind the bar with its doodled おわり (the end) seems especially poignant.

abandoned Japanese karaoke bar


  1. Don says

    Excellent shots, Lee! I’m intrigued by the notebook, that acknowledgement seems unusual in these settings.

    • says

      Thanks, Don! Yeah, I’ve never come across anyhing quite like that before. Certainly poignant, although of course there are no guarantees it was written by the staff. Or indeed if it was written when the bar was in operation. One of those mysteries that haikyo always throw up.

    • says

      Nah, not Shinjuku. You know of a place there…?

      There was actually quite a bit of booze left, but I wasn’t really tempted by the Jinro. If there had been lots of unopened wine bottles on the other hand, it might have been a very different story!

  2. Martin B says

    It always seems so sad seeing toys left in abandoned buildings, a childs special friend that won’t be around to be hugged when needed.

  3. Phil J says

    Another great post, thanks Lee!

    Question – Why are the haikyo you visit just abandoned and not closed? Usually establishments are boxed up and emptied before the owners leave.

    • says

      I often wonder this myself. It seems so odd, especially for a business, to just be left with so much stuff left behind. Some with so much stuff they have a definite “Lost Colony” feeling to them.

      • says


        That’s a very good question, and one I can’t really answer. At least not with any real certainty. It does, however, cost a lot of money to move stuff out, and as most of the places I visit have gone bankrupt, I presume there just wasn’t the money there to do that. Or indeed the will to do so…

  4. cybersekkin says

    Why is the mic, nuigurumi and glass so clean when everything else is covered in a thick layer of dust? 😉 did someone enhance the shots a bit?

    • says

      Haha, good question!

      Sadly we weren’t the first there. It’s not actually dust. As with many haikyo, a fire extinguisher had been let off in the room, so some of the stuff had obviously been touched. If you look at the bottles of Jinro, you can see that somebody has used spray paint too. Thankfully though nothing had been smashed up.

  5. Willy says

    I particularly liked your reflection on Enka. Very fitting indeed. Sort of a wild west tumbleweed blowing through a ghost town, in the Japanese mode.

  6. says

    i’m going to tokyo in a week and i would like to visit places like this, abandoned! i’m a lover of abandoned houses or whatever, bildings, shops, bars…, because i love to take photographs of them.

    Could you tell me, here or by mail, where can i find this amazing places in tokyo?

    please :)

    thank you so much.


    • says

      Sorry to say it’s not in Tokyo. None of the places are in fact. They all require a car and invariably quite a long drive.

  7. Rebecca says

    Have you ever heard of/thought of going to Gunkanjima? I recently moved to Nagasaki and have been hearing a lot about it, seems like somewhere you’d be interested in photographing!

    • says

      Yeah, I have. Actually went there once, but it was too choppy and they couldn’t dock the boat…

      I would love to go again though. It has been done to death, but I’d still like to explore and photograph it.

      Being so near, you really should give it a try.

  8. Susan Rogers says

    Lovely photos Lee! Have you thought about putting together a coffee table book? So many people would find theses photos interesting, especially if you had some history or first account stories to go with them.

    • says

      Thanks a lot, Susan.

      No, I haven’t, but given the opportunity, I’d love to. I’ve seen a few haikyo books, so there is certainly an interest.

  9. Mark E says

    Of course it’s always interesting to see what gets left behind and speculate on the story behind it. I am presently ruminating over the last picture…why someone would leave their glasses behind…and not come back for them.

      • says

        That’s a good question, but they may not be prescription glasses. It’s not unusual to see cheap glasses in public places to help people read documents etc. They could well be a pair of those.

  10. says

    It is a nice blog. I do love your photos of details. I have just moved to Kobe about 2 weeks ago. I hope I can do some haikyo here some day soon too.

  11. Bernadette says

    I read this while listening to the enka song you shared. It added so much! Such loss! Such sadness! But a bittersweet kind. So beautiful! Thank you as always for sharing, Lee!

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