Monster mazes, empty spaces, pretty faces and more!

Haikyo – The Rainbow Hotel

Anybody who uses ‘ The Book ‘ might recognise this picture from p.199.

I even cropped my picture to look as close to the book version as possible, consider this my homage.

Though I have no idea why they selected this image to represent what is in fact a rather wonderful six storey hotel, with an elevated sky tower so tall you can see it long before the hotel comes into view.

This isn’t even the best bit of graffiti in the building, which has been adopted as a canvas by the graffiti community and is full much grander pieces of art, but we’ll get to that later.

First, let’s put this place into a bit of context.

The Rainbow Hotel, overlooking the inland sea between Honshu and Shikoku, had obviously been quite a place in its day. It was only later in the day, from a rollercoaster in a theme park on the hill behind the hotel, that I was able to get a shot of the whole hotel, its sky tower and its coastal setting.

Maybe doesn’t look much now, but according to some promotional photos we found in one of the corridors it had been lit up like Vegas back when it was open. The illuminated UFO-style observation platform rising and lowering must have been a sight to have seen.

Our point of entry brings us directly to the bottom of the sky tower and almost the first thing we see is 360 degree panorama of graffiti all around the base of th tower.

Most of these pieces are ‘tags’ declaring which artist was here, but it’s in a different league from the ‘Dave woz ere’ style graffiti you might get elsewhere, and not all the pieces were just tags either.

The Sky Tower sure looked different from this angle as well.

Keeping out of the main hotel we climbed the Sky Tower ring until eventually we were able to get into the UFO itself, though it turned out to be quite narrow, cramped and not as exciting as expected.

After the tower we made our way down to what would have been the main access from the car park into the hotel, which would have made an excellent paint ball arena with its devastated battlefield aesthetic.

In fact this was quite typical of most of the larger open areas inside the hotel. Generally they were stripped down, bare and exposed. Take for example these concourses, the reception area, the hotel bar, kitchens and spa pool.

In fact without the graffiti some areas would have seemed very barren here. There are some who are strongly opposed to graffiti in haikyo, and in some regards I agree, but there were some really interesting pieces scattered around the Rainbow Hotel that were arguably the most interesting features of the place. (Remember the tag on the top left of this next collage – it’ll be significant later!)

Another aspect of the hotel I really liked was the light in the corridors between the rooms, patchwork shadow and light alternating between solid wall and open doors. The dappled effect was really nice and provided some good angles with strong foregrounds and spaces opening and unfolding behind.

In fact these angles provided some great compositional opportunities which had been really well exploited by some of the better graffiti artists, sometimes a really good piece would be perfectly framed by the very structure of the hotel itself. So here’s my top 5 instant compositions offered up by the Rainbow Hotel (no specific order).

In these first two the artist used a huge facing wall at the head of a long corridor to good effect.

As you can see above, another nice effect is when the artist uses the pool of light at the end of the corridor to frame their piece. Here’s another nice example of that in action.

I’m not sure that these last two were as intentional as the others, but I really liked the way that the graffiti had created a kind of bracket frame around this old safe sitting on a tatami floor.


Lastly, I got a kick out of how from a certain angle the mouse (promoting a local theme park) and the graffiti kid (throwing a nazi salute) on the wall behind seemed strikingly similar in their poses.

Once we’d checked out all the rooms, many of which were just empty and a few of which were fire damaged, we began to head back down – but as we approached our exit we head something, we weren’t alone. Sneaking over to towards the sounds we spotted one of the artists just getting to work.

I snapped this photo and then decided to go down and introduce myself, which was funny, the guy was very on edge for a moment – I guess he thought he’d been busted but had no idea why it was two gaijin guys. Anyway, I quickly explained that we were just haikyo enthusiasts and that we liked the graffiti, he relaxed and we asked him about his work – remember the tag I said you should remember? No – well go back and check, as it turns out it was this guys work. I asked if it was ok to take a picture of him at work and he said he didn’t want his face shown (hence the black spot above), so I just took a leg shot of him with the can in hand.

He then asked if I wanted to help out with his latest piece. Hmmm – not really, but it sounds like a good photo-op, so this is my ‘Bill Clinton’ graffiti moment – I was holding the can, but I didn’t spray!

These random encounters that you can have with people in haikyo can be real fun, in addition to this guy we’ve recently run into a group of war games with pellet guns and the same cos-play photographer in two different places. I’ll put up the cos-play pictures in my next post, but that’s all for today. Andrew is on his way over now and we’re off to find a haikyo village I got told about recently – so if we find it that’s something to look forward to in a future post.

For now –

Click here for a fuller gallery of photos.

One response

  1. Wow nice blog. I’ve been really interested in living in Japan myself as I am of Japanese heritage. I was born there but left at a young age, but it seems everything relating to the Japanese culture including my art and academic works calls out my name. I would love to go there, even to visit since I have family there. For some reason I only wished I experienced youth in the Japanese culture. Keep on writing, I’m glad I came across this blog!

    June 13, 2012 at 10:56 pm

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