Abandoned places have always drawn to them strange stories and tales of the paranormal. There is something about these forgotten ruins that seem to be fertile grounds for stories of ghosts and other strangeness, these places lying out on the periphery somewhere between what we know and the unknown beyond. One such place is an ambitious forgotten hotel project in Japan, which unfortunately was carried out on sacred burial grounds and has gone on to become one of the most haunted and supposedly cursed sites in the country.

It was supposed to be a dream resort by the sea, a stunning seaside paradise on the Japanese island of Okinawa, that would draw in visitors from all over the world. The Nakagusuku Hotel also variously known as other names such as the Nakagusuku Shiroato Kogen, Hotel Leisure Land, Royal Hotel, or Takahara or Kogen Hotel, was the brainchild of a successful businessman and politician from the Okinawa capital of Naha by the name of Hajime Takara, and was envisioned as being a magnificent resort to take advantage of the influx of tourists during the 1975 Okinawa Ocean Exposition, which itself was to celebrate the return of the Ryukyu Island chain to Japan from the United States. In the early 1970s construction began on the sprawling hotel resort, which was to sit in the hills of Kitanakagusuku, Okinawa, with panoramic ocean views of both the Pacific Ocean and East China Sea and just a stone’s throw away from the picturesque and historic Nakagusuku Castle. No expense was to be spared in its elaborate construction, with the resort planned to feature a fully functioning zoo complete with giraffes and elephants, an amusement park, a waterpark, a night club, and all of the amenities one would expect from what was to be a playground for rich tourists. However, dark days were ahead for this island fantasy, and the resort was doomed to become known as one of the most cursed and haunted places in Japan.

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What's left of the Nakagusuku Hotel

The problems can perhaps be traced to back before construction even began, when concerned monks in the area came to Takara to plead with him to abandon plans to develop the site. They explained that the proposed hotel resort was to be built over land that held graves, sacred sites, and for good measure what they called a cave inhabited by restless spirits, and that the construction would desecrate this site and upset the spirits. The nearby castle was also the site of many battles and much bloodshed through its history, with many of the lords of the castle buried in tombs on the site. Although the governor of Okinawa had moved these graves in the mid-20th century, it was said that many of the bodies actually remained, and that to build on the site would be a sacrilege. All of this spooky talk of sacred sites and restless spirits was certainly interesting lore, but this was a wealthy businessman and so he wisely decided to listen to the superstitious monks and halt his plans. Just kidding, of course construction began right as scheduled, but it would not be long at all before it turned out that the monks might have been right all along.

Almost immediately, construction was beset with problems. Bad weather and poor road conditions were bad enough, but then there were all of the accidents. Workers began experiencing all manner of freak accidents, mishaps, and malfunctions. Equipment would stop working, secured materials would break free to cause danger to those around it, vehicles would crash or stall, workers were injured in strange accidents, and there were countless other various freak occurrences that served to hamper the project and cause costs to balloon. Some workers also began to complain of seeing shadow figures lurking about the site, as if somberly watching them, and there were even sightings of an apparition that appeared as a 15th century lord.

As the accidents and mishaps continued, the project was increasingly seen as cursed and haunted, with some of the workers refusing to come in to work. This is where the story takes a bit of a swerve into possible urban legend, but it is said that one day the businessman in charge of it all decided enough was enough. Tired of workers not coming in because of stories of supernatural forces, Takara allegedly decided to spend the night in the unfinished structure to prove that there was nothing to worry about. According to this version of events, Takara spent the night as promised, but the next day he was found to have gone stark raving mad and was subsequently committed to an insane asylum.

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The ruins of the Nakagusuku Hotel

Whether this place was ever haunted and cursed or not, the project was never seen to completion, as construction was halted in 1975 due to the bankruptcy of the contractor. No one ever did pick the project up again, and so the uncompleted hotel would sit there to be slowly reclaimed by the surrounding forest and become a popular abandoned spot for urban explorers, many of who would bring back all sorts of strange tales. Among the various reports of paranormal phenomena are glowing orbs, shadow figures, apparitions in 15th century Japanese garb, eyes glowing in the shadows of the ruins, sudden feelings of terror or panic, and even people claiming to have been assaulted by unseen hands. One urban explorer has written of his experiences at the ruins on the site mentalspark:

Inside one building you can see the zoo area where animals were supposed to go. Old artwork grabs at you. Nearby is a staircase leading to a lower level. A level unexplainable, hidden in darkness. Something lives under that staircase. Two separate incidents of viewing “yellow, intense eyes surrounded by darkness” have been reported during my time there. One man was assaulted by something under the stairs. It shook him to the core. He never went back. I never saw those eyes. But I do know others have seen it.

 

Within is the remains is a well. Cold air and moisture cling to this area. One can feel the temperature drop within 50 feet of the well. I could feel something swirling around me once I entered the lower stairs area. Around the ruins, several homeless and insane men and women still live. One night while travelling down an alley I was assaulted by someone or something throwing heavy bricks. They landed near us scaring us off. We ran.

 

Strange music and voices can be heard on the winds. Another time visiting the area between the castle and the hotel ruins, a strange reed flute could be heard lilting on the wind. One time the sound came close to us. It was just four of us. We wanted to look around at a new spot. We talked as friends and we heard the strange melody in the background. Once we stopped talking it stopped. A second time it happened. Then the music kept playing and playing. It chilled us to the core. We ran as fast as we could back to the car.

Today it is nothing but weed-choked, feral ruins, defiled with graffiti, crumbling, long forgotten by all but those who are curious about what is going on here. There have long been efforts to get the place demolished, and indeed the process has already begun, meaning this place will soon disappear into the ether of historical mysteries. What happened here and why are these forces gathered to this doomed project? Is there anything to this all, or is it nothing more than urban legend? The place and ruins are certainly real, but what of the spooky stories? We may never know, and it is all testament to how such eerie abandoned places have a way of bringing on the odd.

Brent Swancer
Brent Swancer is an author and crypto expert living in Japan. Biology, nature, and cryptozoology still remain Brent Swancer’s first intellectual loves. He's written articles for MU and Daily Grail and has been a guest on Coast to Coast AM and Binnal of America.

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