An abandoned Japanese recording studio complex

There are lots of well equipped recording studios in Japan that can be rented out for relatively small fees. Studio/hotel complexes, on the other hand, are understandably less common. And it’s a number that was reduced still further when the Karaway closed its doors and became a haikyo.

abandoned Japanese studio hotel

Situated in the vicinity of Mount Fuji, the Karaway (a converted ryokan) offered accommodation, plenty of studio space, and a good sized performance/stage area. The perfect spot really for a band to get away, practice and possibly record a few songs. A scene and setting that back in 1983, Random Star clearly made the most of.

abandoned Japanese studio hotel

The university formed band’s repertoire, among other numbers, included some Loudness cover versions — a heavy metal outfit that also visited the Karaway during its heyday. And, for a bit of a feel for their sound, Crazy Nights, a 1985 single, can be heard here:

Loudness Crazy Nights (mp3)

Nowadays, however, the Karaway is a very different place. There are no more bands, and definitely no more crazy nights. Not even mildly interesting ones — just reminders of them. Meaning the phone no longer rings.

abandoned Japanese studio hotel

And the small office merely shows signs of what once went on there.

abandoned Japanese studio hotel

The slightly unconventional desk perhaps suggesting it wasn’t quite your regular, run-of-the-mill receptionist position.

abandoned Japanese studio hotel

Condition wise, the building is still in surprisingly good shape — except where wooden parts of the structure have been exposed to the weather — although its age and half empty state do give it a slightly bleak vibe.

abandoned Japanese studio hotel

Also, vandalism is pretty much restricted to some rock ‘n’ roll damage to a not especially rock ‘n’ roll coffee dispenser.

abandoned Japanese studio hotel

But what was more noticeable than anything was the silence.

abandoned Japanese studio hotel

Of course this is something that’s an integral part of all haikyo, as they were once buildings that people lived, stayed or worked in. But just like the abandoned and yet perfectly preserved school, the complete lack of sound was even more of a factor than usual. This time due to the constant reminders of music.

abandoned Japanese studio hotel

abandoned Japanese studio hotel

And the instruments that songs were composed on.

abandoned Japanese studio hotel

Or simply played.

abandoned Japanese studio hotel

But now sit utterly silent and unused. Making the Karaway a fascinating, yet ultimately quite sad place to walk around.

abandoned Japanese studio hotel


    • says

      I absolutly love this,thanks for sharing.I know what you mean by the eery silence and the echo of the sound the emptyness and anicent history, yet there is such haunting beauty in it, that it’s striking.

    • says

      Oh, sorry, you said that it’s next to Fuji-san, indeed :) It’s strange though: pianos (small ones like those) can often be found in haikyo, but guitars are really rare (except for this enka singer haikyo). I guess guitars are more personal objects than those kinds of piano?

    • says

      @Meow Cheers! Yeah, it was interesting. I try not to get my hopes up too much before visiting a haikyo, but this one definitely wasn’t a disappointment.

      But yeah, no guitars. They are easy to carry out though I suppose.

      It’s on a few Japanese sites, but no location or name as ever. Once we had a rough location though, a photograph and google street view gave us the exact spot.

      I can email you a map if you want?

      @Krystal Thanks, glad you like it. I agree, for all their sadness, there is a strange kind of beauty in many haikyo. One that’s difficult to define, but definitely there.

      • rory says

        Hey there, I just stumbled across this article and love it. I try to do my own haikyo hunting here in Japan but can be a tad difficult with a new born 😉 I do like to find them on google earth though. Would you mind emailing me a map or link to the location? Thanks!

  1. Jeffrey says

    It’s one thing to abandon a building as they are generally attached to the ground. But to leave keyboards behind?

    • says

      I know. My hope was to come across a few instruments, but I really didn’t expect to find any. Maybe they were broke and not worth fixing? That seems a bit unlikely though as they were presumably in use until the place closed.

  2. says

    The complete silence and stillness that surrounds haikyos are fascinating…and you’re right, the presence of the musical instruments and amps really plays with your imagination. Especially when you have that photo to reference, makes you want a time machine to see it once filled with life, laughter and music!

    • says

      Yes, seeing the group stood in front of the very same sign I photographed made it all the more poignant. It must have been quite a place in its heyday, and it was in good enough condition to just about imagine it. A really interesting find.

  3. Ayako Suzuki says

    Another awesome Haikyo photos! Love them all!!! These photos gave me inspiration for both of my scenic art work and my own art work. It’s irony…people don’t buy vinyl/CD anymore…the recording company don’t make CD as much as before…so many music gohsts are floating around at where is like this abandoned recording studio. So sad.

    • says

      Thanks Ayako. Great to hear you got some inspiration from the place.

      Yes, the Karaway could well have been an early casualty of the changing music business. Less money going round, and as you say, fewer groups recording albums.

      Just recently I’ve actually got back into vinyl. Having a turntable again is a real treat. Turns out there are a lot second hand records out there too. Not, of course, that the current vinyl revival would have saved this place, or others like it…

    • says

      Thanks Neil. Phones are always interesting to photograph, but the light on this one made it especially nice.

  4. winnie says

    The pictures are so interesting except the television and the mirror give me a creepy feeling!
    Poor Keyboards, they are so sad to be leave behind.

    • says

      Cheers Winnie!

      Mirrors are always interesting. Can give you a shock though when you turn a corner and there’s one there. But as of yet, I’ve never had anyone other than me staring back!

    • says


      To be honest we usually just walk in through an unlocked (or smashed) door. In this case, however, it was through the open window of the public bath. More often than not it really is surprisingly easy. Finding the buildings in the first place is usually the tricky part.

    • says

      It wasn’t much to look at to be honest Paul. Plus there was a new-ish apartment building next to it, and a house opposite. That said, I had planned to take a couple of photos before we left, but we were that cold I totally forgot about it in my haste to get back to the car and turn the heater on.

  5. says

    Oh I love visiting hykyou sites.
    I went to an abandoned village in Northern Saitama during the Winter, it was so lonely and quiet.
    Great photos!

  6. Eleanor says

    This looks like an awesome place to explore. My friend and I live in Fujiyoshida and are looking for local places to try out haikyo. Would you mind emailing me a map? Thanks for the post!

  7. Claudia says

    hi there Lee

    WOW!! this is amazing, im going to visit tokyo this weekend for a few days with a friend we are coming all the way from australia, we were very impress about this since my friend is a musician and i am obsess with abandon buildings and houses, is it possible to visit this place?? or can you give us a hint on how to get there by private message?? maybe we could meet with you too that would be amazing!! or any hints you can give us about any places like this??? yoroshiku :) we promise to be behave and respectful xo

    • says

      This one is a few hours away from Tokyo. You’d need a car really to get there. If you are still keen, get in touch and I’ll give you more details.

      • Claudia says

        definitely!!! that would be amazing!! thanks so much for your replay we are arriving to Tokyo on friday around 7pm and would be awesome to hang with someone that knows the area, we don’t have a car but we do have an adventurer spirit lol!!! thanks again for your response I really admire your work!! and would love if you are keen to get toghether go somewhere awesome and do some shots!! im learning :) do you have my details?

  8. Pontus says

    Hi there,

    Amazing place, nice pictures.

    Is it possible for you to email me the map of where it is too?

    Would love that.

    Thank you!

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