Highgate Cemetary West

MJG Churches / Shrines, Life, Ruins / Haikyo Leave a Comment

A few months back we went to Highgate Cemetary West side on a guided tour with su’s family. We had her sister and two boys staying with us in the living room for 2 weeks. The whole trip was crazy fun, unlike anything we’ve done before, except for maybe big family events when WE were the kids! How odd to be on the other side of that… Highgate West is pretty fantastic – except for the areas where they’ve been cleaning and conserving. They see their mission there as being to bring the cemetary back to its original glory. My …

Mad Mark’s Castle, Albany Bulb

MJG Abandoned Art, Grafitti, Ruins / Haikyo, USA, World Ruins 1 Comment

Mad Mark’s Castle is a glorious achievement, a hand-built faerie castle made of scavenged rebar, concrete and plaster that stands proudly atop the Albany Bulb in San Francisco Bay, offering a fantastic view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Completed in 2000 and adopted ever since as an ever-changing graffiti canvas by the numerous artists haunting the Bulb, it remains a stunning piece of one-man art in itself, and the culmination of ‘Mad’ Mark (Marc)’s life’s work. Mad Mark’s Castle by Peter Merts. Mad Mark’s Castle interior (Great Hall) by Peter Merts. I’ve never been to the Albany Bulb or even …

Ruined Cartmel Farmhouse and Priory

MJG Churches / Shrines, UK Leave a Comment

Cartmel is a tiny village located at the bottom of the Lake District in the NorthWest of the UK, famous for two things- a racecourse that brings in punters nationally perhaps once a year, and L’Enclume, a Michelin-stared restaurant now dubbed the best restaurant in the uk. Also there are plenty of ruins… This past weekend I went up to Cartmel with my wife SY, firstly to attend my brother’s wedding (congratulations Joe and Vicky!) as best man, which was an excellent experience, and secondly to take a mini-holiday in the middle of nature. Cartmel stood out to us because …

Odaiba Cannonades

MJG Haikyo, Military Installations, Tokyo-to 3 Comments

160 years ago, Japan and America looked at each other down the barrels of cannon. Japan was in isolation, and America (the whole world, really), wanted in. Five island forts stuffed with cannon (‘daiba’) were built across Tokyo Bay to repel foreign invasion. They were never used. The foreign invasion came, and Japan opened its doors to the world. Now three of those islands are gone, incorporated into recent land developments. Two remain, one preserved, the other conserved as a habitat for birds. But why were they built at all? Why was Japan so afraid of letting foreigners in to …

Mizune Freighter Tracks

MJG Bridges / Roads, Haikyo, Tokyo-to 6 Comments

60 years ago the Mizune freighter line built one of the biggest dams in Japan. The line was specially constructed in the 1940s, with some 20 tunnels and bridges snaking through the west Tokyo mountains, to ferry supplies from the sleepy hiker’s village of Okutama to the construction site for the Ogochi dam on Okutama lake. It must have cost millions to blast those tunnels and build all those bridges. Still, the line was abandoned after completion, and now remains high above the still-operational road to the dam, like a hidden super-highway for local fauna. A concrete bridge along the …

The ancient glare of Angkor Thom

MJG Haikyo, World Ruins Leave a Comment

Angkor Thom is a behemothic ruin, 9 square kilometers of temples, lakes, terraces, and dusty faded glory all bound in by a ten-foot wall. Much of it now is paved with roads built by the South Koreans, the Chinese, the Indians. Our guide happily explained the times and dates each country came along and chipped in their bit to keep this grand testament to ancient Khmer wealth in a visitable condition. And visitable it most certainly is, from the hydra-headed temple of Bayon to the seemingly endless codices of ‘forgotten temples’ across from the palace’s elephant terrace. The heads of …

The sun-bleached ruin of Angkor Wat

MJG Cambodia, Haikyo, World Ruins 1 Comment

Angkor Wat is the last, greatest remnant of the ancient Khmer empire, a sprawling citadel and temple complex built nearly 1000 years ago, now resplendent in ruins. Doubtless you’ve heard of it. It’s the biggest tourist attraction in Cambodia, with thousands of visitors parading through its grand porticoes every day, clad in day-glo Crocs and local-bought elephant-pattern pants, mooning over this relic of the Khmer’s grand vision. A few weeks back my wife SY and I went to moon right alongside them. Angkor Wat beyond the boundary moat. We went to Angkor Wat as part of a whirlwind 9-day tour …

Ruins of the Russian Village Revisited

MJG Haikyo, Niigata, Ruins / Haikyo 22 Comments

4 years ago I went to the Russian Village– one of the grandest failed theme parks in Japan, abandoned 20 years ago and left to fend for itself. On that first trip I camped overnight in a still-pristine hotel room, admired the mint-condition giant mammoth sculptures, and was even able to loot a few tatty matroska dolls from a (mostly already looted-out) gift shop. Now, 4 years later, I returned to see how the old Village was faring. Not well, it turned out. Modeled after the Kremlin, I believe. Its poor condition was not obvious to see from the outside, …

Fuchu US Airbase Heyday

MJG Haikyo, Military Installations, Tokyo-to 203 Comments

Since publishing my 2008 explore and photos of the abandoned US Air Force base in Fuchu, Japan, it’s been one of the most popular pages on this site. See it here. It has attracted hundreds of veteran airmen from the 50’s onwards to comment and reconnect with old friends and colleagues- some of whom at times sent me photos from the Base’s heyday to include in a heyday page. This is that page. Thanks to 4 airmen in particular- Carl Lindberg, Cliff Cockerill, Bill Lambert, Dale Lingenfelter, and Donn Paris for taking the trouble to scan and send the photos …

Nara Dreamland Heyday

MJG Haikyo, Heyday, Nara, Theme Parks 9 Comments

Nara Dreamland, Japan, was Asia’s first Disneyland clone- opened in 1961 and continuing operation until as recently as 2006. Over that 45-year span millions of people were entranced by its mimicked delights- the Matterhorn mountain, the fairytale castle, Main Street, etc… Even now many thousands are still entranced by Dreamland abandoned, as its rides grow dusty and weeds shoot up through its empty concrete boulevards. Some of those thousands have left comments on my main Dreamland page– sharing their memories, including several veterans who passed through US bases in Japan in the 60’s and went to Dreamland on R & …