Marine Corps dubs Okinawa's Royal Hotel ruins off-limits
By DAVID ALLEN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 1, 2009
NAKAGUSUKU, Okinawa — One of Okinawa’s most popular haunts — the ruins of an unfinished hotel where American teens scared friends on moonless nights and military gamers fired paintballs and BB pellets at opponents — has been placed off-limits by the Marine Corps.
Adjacent to the restored remains of the 15th-century Nakagusuku Castle, the sprawling Hotel Takara, also known as the Royal Hotel, was added to the list of off-limits sites in an order by Lt. Gen. Richard C. Zilmer, commander of Marine Corps Bases Japan.
The order was issued June 10 and remains in effect for all active-duty Marines and sailors, family members and civilian personnel attached to the III Marine Expeditionary Force and Marine Corps Bases Japan. It does not include other services.
Officials at Kadena Air Base and the Army’s Torii Station said Monday that they had not placed the area off-limits.
Marine officials said the decaying structure, broken glass and accumulating detritus posed an unsafe environment.
"Injuries sustained by a service member brought the dilapidated conditions to light with Marine Corps leadership, who consider the high risk of harm at Takara Hotel to constitute a threat," said Marine spokesman 2nd Lt. Lucas Burke in an e-mail response to a Stars and Stripes query.
No details of the incident were provided.
The skeletal remains of the hotel — which is haunted, according to local lore — are easily accessed from the castle ruins during the day. At night, when the park is closed, visitors looking for something eerie trek through a wooded area that hosts old gravesites.
The hotel was conceived by an Okinawan businessman to take advantage of the 1975 Okinawa Ocean Exposition. Villagers warned him that the hillside grounds were sacred, but he ignored them and the project, designed as an elaborate resort village with a casino and water park, began to take shape.
However, when monks at a nearby Buddhist temple warned that construction was too close to a cave inhabited by restless spirits, many workmen left. The rest abandoned the project when several other workers died in mysterious construction accidents.
Years later, the broke businessman wound up in an insane asylum.