{Japan: Explore} Searching for Helen Keller at the (Haunted?) Fujiya Hotel

fujiya hotel 4

Would YOU go down this hallway?

In a Nutshell:

  • Where: the historic Fujiya Hotel in Hakone (1.5 hours outside of Tokyo)
  • When: October 16, 2013
  • *Notes: Founded in 1878, the Fujiya is one of the oldest hotels in Japan.  Many famous people have stayed there including Charlie Chaplin, John Lennon, Helen Keller, King George VI, and the Emperor of Japan.

Full Report:

As Halloween is nearly upon us, now seems as good a time as any to blog about my spooky experience at Hakone’s famous Fujiya Hotel.  As well as being one of Japan’s oldest hotels (established in 1878), it is also one of the country’s most historic.  The hotel has had it’s fair share of famous guests including Charlie Chaplin, John Lennon, Albert Einstein, the Swedish Crown Prince, and Helen Keller.  It’s also had one very infamous guest, Nazi Party Member Joseph Albert Meisinger (aka The Butcher of Warsaw) who was actually arrested by American troops on the hotel premises.

Upon checking in to the Fujiya, we were escorted to our room by a very friendly member of the hotel staff.  At the time I noticed that the room next to us had a shiny, rectangular tag affixed to its door.  As all the other doors I had seen simply had room numbers on them, I was curious as to what this tag read.  As soon as we had gotten settled in, I ventured over to the next door room and checked out the tag.  My eyes widened as I saw that it said: Welcome to Chaplin’s Room.  Yes, as in THE CHARLIE CHAPLIN!

fujiya charlie chaplin room

charlie chaplin

I love how the image of the Little Tramp was included!

While I was aware of the various celebrities that had stayed in the hotel over the years, it was a whole other thing to know that I was standing in the same spot where a legend like Charlie Chaplin once had.  I immediately made a note to myself to look for Helen Keller’s room before our visit was over.  Helen Keller is definitely one of my heroes.  It’s amazing to think what she was able to accomplish having been blind and deaf from such a young age.  A story about her life is one of the first chapter books I read as a young girl so it was quite overwhelming to think of standing in front of HER room.

So on our second (and last) night at the Fujiya Hotel, I set out by myself to find Helen Keller.  M was feeling quite tired from a long day of sightseeing and decided to go to bed early.  As I made my way down the hotel’s various corridors, I was filled with excitement.  Not just at the thought of finding Helen Keller’s room, but at the chance to explore every nook and cranny of this grand hotel.  Having stayed in thoroughly modern accommodations throughout the trip I felt like was stepping back in time.

fujiya hotel 8

fujiya hotel 2

fujiya hotel 9

Then as I came upon the hotel’s main staircase, a strange feeling washed over me.  I don’t believe in ghosts but I had the odd sensation of being watched.  I also became aware of how quiet the hotel was and how I had not seen anyone in quite some time.  But I told myself that I was being silly and to just keep going.

fujiya hotel 6

fujiya 7

At this point, I did briefly consider going downstairs and asking the concierge as to which room Helen Keller had stayed in.  But I abandoned the idea almost immediately as I wanted to say I had found Helen Keller’s room all on my own.  Moments later, nearly all sense of adventure left me as I came across this eerie looking doorway:

fujiya hotel 3

Now I wasn’t sure what to do.  As much as I wanted to find Helen Keller’s room, I was feeling pretty spooked at the idea of proceeding past this point.  But I couldn’t stand the idea of coming all this way and being such a ninny.  With my heart thumping, I stepped through the doorway and peeked down the corridor.  It was completely empty and looked like something straight out of a horror movie.  I took a couple of pictures to document the experience and that’s when I thought I saw a man’s shadow at the far end of the hallway.  That was it for me!  I gave up the search for Helen Keller and fled back to my room like a bat out of hell.

fujiya hotel 4

fujiya hotel 5

How I was able to sleep that night was a wonder.  But M said I slept like a baby and even snored (hmph).  As we were leaving the hotel the next day, I turned back to look at the Fujiya one last time.  In the morning light, it looked beautiful and serene.  And the previous night’s events seemed almost like a dream.

outside of fujiya hotel