mjg1Michael John Grist is a British author and ruins photographer who lives in London, UK. He writes dark and weird science fiction and fantasy books, such as the fantasy novel Ignifer’s Rise and the SF series The Ruins Sonata.

– See his books here.

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– Read his blog here.

For 11 years he lived in Tokyo exploring Japan’s modern ruins, such as abandoned theme parks, military bases, and ghost towns, gaining millions of hits on this website with his photographs and stories.

The best of these adventures are now collected in his unique travel book Into the Ruins, which thriller bestseller Barry Eisler calls, “gorgeous, haunting, stunning.”

– See his ruins book here.



Michael was born in Manchester, England, to an American mother and British father, in 1980. He was raised in Bolton, where as a kid he wrote snippets of fantasy stories and explored the horse’s field behind his house. Nothing much has changed since then, except the snippets became full stories and the horse’s field got a whole lot bigger.

In his childhood summers he visited his family in Kentucky, where he learnt how to make s’mores, enjoyed night-time hay-rides, and worked in his uncle’s bike shop. In his late teens he worked at a summer camp for disadvantaged kids in Massachusetts, and after graduating high school in the UK he went (glutton for punishment, yes) to high school again, in Indiana, on an exchange program for two semesters. It was there that he first took creative writing classes, and started work on his first novel (which is now maturing on his hard drive like a fine wine). He also took a Greyhound trip around the country (six days and nights on a bus), which reinforced his thirst for exploration.

In 2003 he came to Japan, and began to explore the country’s modern ruins, known as haikyo, ultimately visiting over 100 locations, and posting many of them to this website with photographs and stories of each exploration.

Throughout this 11-year tenure in Japan, Michael also got more serious about writing fiction, getting numerous short stories published in semi- and pro-level fiction magazines in America, Australia, and the UK, resulting in him publishing two collections of short stories, The Bells of Subsidence and Bone Diamond.

He also got married.

After many close calls to get a publisher for his ruins / haikyo book, Michael decided to publish it himself. Japan in Ruins – Adventures in Abandoned Japan is a hybrid Japan travelogue / memoir telling all his adventures in the ruins of Japan. Barry Eisler the bestselling thriller writer loves it!

In 2014, Michael returned to the UK.

Now Michael enjoys working out in the gym, watching TV and movies, and of course writing stories and novels. He lives in London with his wife and their pet King Frog, and works as an academic English lecturer at university.


You can contact Michael about use of photos, potential advertising offers, and most anything else by emailing michaeljohngrist @ hotmail.com (after removing the spaces)

- As a fun little grace note, you can learn more about the design and evolution of this website here.


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    Mr. Ruins
    In an apocalyptic world destroyed by global tsunamis, ex-marine Ritry Goligh must learn to fight through the landscape of the mind, before the sadistic Mr. Ruins can steal his soul.

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    King Ruin
    In the wreckage of his battle with Mr. Ruins, ex-marine Ritry Goligh thinks he's safe, but he's not. He is prey, and King Ruin will hunt him to the edge of existence for the secrets of his soul.

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    Ignifer's Rise
    In a brutal city splintered by caste, a condemned boy called Sen must confront the fate written in his scars and unite the castes in rebellion, before the apocalypse dawns.

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    Abandoned theme parks, mountain ghost towns, relics of WWII- they're all in this unique memoir of a serial ruins explorer.

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