Strange Ruins

Exploring haikyo opens up possibilities to see places you never normally would, by crossing that invisible boundary between the living street and the dead hollows of some abandoned construction.

Wander the engine room for a gondola rope-way. Venture behind the machinery in a bowling alley. Crawl into a secret underground vault in the remote countryside. Walk the tracks of an abandoned rail station. See things that other people will never see.

Seoul’s ruined Jumbo Jet

Cosplay Factory Haikyo

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To say the vision of a jumbo jet parked beside a city is incongruous is an understatement. It’s downright bizarre, fascinating, intriguing. That’s clearly what the owners of the place hoped for back in 2001 when they bought it in California, had it chopped into 62 pieces and shipped in giant containers across the Pacific. Cosplayers in a gorgeous factory haikyo, re-enacting key scenes from Final Fantasy. They were great sports and allowed us to photograph them too, swords and all.

Yamanakako Underground Vault

Okutama Ropeway

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The underground vault haikyo in Yamanashi is one of the strangest abandoned structures I’ve yet explored. A double-doored double-walled walk-in safe with triple combination locks buried in a man-made mound in an unpopulated and obscure part of the Japanese countryside, now with its thick and weighty doors hanging open and loose, nothing in the vault but for 5 odd logo/symbols on the wall, and no other clue as to its purpose but for the dedication in kanji on top of the dome- ‘in memory of our ancestors’. Scrunched up behind thickets of winter-boned brush off the banks of a man-made lake, the last remaining carriage of the Okutama Ropeway hangs slack in its berthing perch. Once a completely false folly, it is now consigned to be the most natural thing there, with clotted brown leaves as its only passengers, vines clinging to the station walls the only attendants.

Mt. Asama Volcano Museum

Toyo Bowl Bowling Alley

Up in the mountainous north-west corner of snowy Gunma prefecture, at the foot of the once-active volcano Mt. Asama, lies a beautifully weathered abandoned volcano museum. Ruptured by avalanche scree and scoured by the harsh winter winds rushing down the valley, it stands as a lone sentinel guarding the jagged granite slopes leading up to the volcano’s cone. The Toyo Bowl in Kanagawa was a mammoth venture when first dreamed up, the second biggest bowling alley in the world behind the Nagoya Toyo Bowl, featuring 108 bowling lanes spread over 3 huge floors, along with a large pachinko hall, restaurants, gift shops, arcades, and a creche.

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