Monday, June 27, 2016

(Haikyo) Deer Spring Lodge Chichibu(鹿の湯山荘): Another One Bites The Dust


Have you ever wondered how a building goes from being abandoned, to becoming nothing more than a barely protruding cement or rock foundation outline, embedded in the hard dirt? I'd previously never thought about it, I'd simply observed the before and the after. But recently in Chichibu, I had the amazement of being able to witness one way in which the transformation can unfold.

Arriving at the train station near Deer Spring Lodge.
Avid haikyo explorers in Tokyo's Kanto region are probably familiar with Deer Spring Lodge(鹿の湯山荘), a well documented site in Chichibu, Saitama that's fairly easy for people to access, even without the use of a car. Just don't expect to have cellphone service when you get to the actual lodge, so relying on something like Google Maps might not work as expected, as I discovered back in 2012.


While not a very active urban explorer myself, the topic has fascinated me endlessly for years, and every so often I've made some attempts to cautiously and respectfully do a bit of exploration of my own. Deer Spring Lodge in Chichibu was one such location that I gleefully tracked down for the first time in 2012 using the coordinates provided courtesy of

Thanks to blogs and websites such as the previously mentioned site and as well as the numerous Japanese blogs documenting both the interior and exterior of the lodge in 2010, we're able to get a clear picture of what the original configurations of rooms and structures were like, have a close look at quite a few of the remaining artifacts at the site, as well as just walk around and experience the sensation of exploring something old and amazing. From every website I'd seen, Deer Spring Lodge was rapidly deteriorating and absolutely a hazard to explorers, but still essentially intact.

When I arrived, I could immediately see that things had rapidly gone downhill.

Approaching from the main road, original signpost visible, though missing the sign.
Viewing the buildings and creek
Looking inside the first building, the smallest, closest to the road, now collapsed. 

The bathhouse.

Another side of the bathhouse.

The building across the creek, still somewhat intact!

The main lodge - too dangerous to approach, slanting at a sharp angle. 

The bathhouse and a nasty message. 

The front building of the main lodge.

Metal pipe reaching out towards me from the bathhouse. 

A nasty message left by someone on the bathhouse.

The inside of a bathhouse, exposed to the outside nature.

Building debris falling down the slope, filling the creek.

Did someone stack this siding/roofing?

The remains of the old sign by the road. 

Sifting through the comments left on some of the Japanese sites, I saw people mentioning that their dad, grandparents, or their parents used to go there for every whatever particular occasion was special to that family. Apparently the lodge closed somewhere around the early to mid 1990s.


When I went back in February of 2016, things had gone from bad to worse. It was intensely cold, snow still clinging to the ground, the sun was fading by the time I had arrived, but there was just enough light left over for me to record what was left of Deer Spring Lodge.

Driving in Chichibu, destination Deer Spring Lodge

An icy bridge on the main road to the lodge. My driver got a bit irate with me for insisting we press on.
Walking up from the main road, on the lodge driveway, the buildings now in sight. The original sign was gone.

(left) Bathhouse (collapsed), main lodge (fully collapsed), (bottom center) creek with debris falling in, (upper right) structure (fully collapsed)

The bathhouse, now FULLY collapsed, a change from when I visited 4 years prior.

The main lodge, sliding into the creek, metal bridge sucked down with it. 

Part of one of the main lodge building is still not in the creek, behind to the now collapsed bathhouse. 
Old piece of piping. For what? Septic? Water? Heat? Something else?

Looking down at the creek, debris and everything just sitting at the bottom. 
More of the creek. 

Bathhouse and lodge building now appear to be one, as they've more or less fallen on top of one another. 

Looking closer at the bathhouse foundation. That part might last a long time.  

The building on the other side of the creek, now a pancake. 

Deer Spring Lodge is now literally sitting in the basin of the creek that runs through the grounds. 

My final goodbye to Deer Spring Lodge. Will anything be left at all if I go back?

I had an impatient driver waiting for me to, so I couldn't explore for more than just a few minutes. Despite having a GoPro with me, I neglected to use it (big mistake). Honestly though, it was just creepy, a bit sad seeing the lodge in this state, even more than it was seeing it in 2012. High up in the fresh mountain air, not a human sound to be heard, it's hard to imagine that this could have once been a place for human fun and relaxation. The silence was absolutely deafening. But the signs of life once experienced to the fullest are all there, laid bare amongst the trees, under the snow, beneath the dried leaves. Even these signs will probably soon be gone. But listen close, and you can still hear the voices calling of those who were once connected to Deer Spring Lodge. And I guess that now, in some ever so small, miniscule way, I'm one of them too.