Odaiba Cannonades

MJG Haikyo, Military Installations, Tokyo-to 1 Comment

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 …

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 …

The ancient glare of Angkor Thom

MJG Haikyo, World Ruins 0 Comments

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 …

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 …

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 …

Fuchu US Airbase Heyday

MJG Haikyo, Military Installations, Tokyo-to 164 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 …

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 …

Exploring Japan’s deserted Mount Rushmore

MJG Featured Story, Haikyo, Statues / Monuments, Theme Parks, Tochigi 5 Comments

Disneyland has the grand pink Sleeping Beauty castle. The wizarding world of Harry Potter has Hogwarts. Japan’s abandoned Western Village theme park has a 1/3rd scale replica of Mount Rushmore. Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, Lincoln- Japan Outside Mount Rushmore As grand-central-structures-that-pull-their-thematic-landscapes-together go, it’s an odd one. First off, you can hardly even see it from within the park. Instead it fronts …

History of the Western Village Amusement Park, Japan

MJG Haikyo, Theme Parks, Tochigi 0 Comments

Western Village is a quantum pocket of the Old West Disneyfied and transplanted wholesale from the American collective unconscious, replete with a $29 million replica Mount Rushmore, Western saloon, ghost house, jail, post office, shooting gallery, actual fake Rio Grande, and vast Mexican barrens. It was built in 1975 and shut down in 2007, likely due to its remote location …

Cowboy haunted-house and Mexicoland, Japan

MJG Featured Story, Haikyo, Theme Parks, Tochigi 18 Comments

Japan’s haikyo theme park Western Village (closed in 2007) takes its cowboy conceit in some unexpected directions; most interestingly of all the Wild West ghost house. Within its silent black-velveted walls we can find all manner of creepified Western stalwarts; skeletal pistoleers, death as a frontier dentist, zombified tomahawk-wielding Indians, and of course cowboys with their pants down. Hmm? Yes. …

Japan’s abandoned animatronic John Wayne

MJG Featured Story, Haikyo, People / Culture, Theme Parks, Tochigi 10 Comments

Japan’s abandoned wild west theme park Western Village (closed in 2007) is filled to the tip of its ten-gallon hat with animatronic cowboy dolls. A Stagecoach-era John Wayne with cyborg heart exposed stands by the park entrance, silent now that the tourists have stopped coming. Animatronic John Wayne with hair peeling back to reveal flesh-toned speakers reprises his Stagecoach (1939) …

Western Village: Japan’s Abandoned Cowboy Theme Park

MJG Featured Story, Haikyo, Japan, Theme Parks, Tochigi 29 Comments

Western Village is a quantum pocket of the Old West Disneyfied and transplanted wholesale from the American collective unconscious, replete with a $29 million replica Mount Rushmore, Western saloon, ghost house, jail, post office, shooting gallery, actual fake Rio Grande, and vast Mexican barrens. It was built in 1975 and shut down in 2007, likely due to its remote location …