The Grand-daddy of all Love Hotels

MJG Haikyo, Kanagawa, Sex Industry 33 Comments

The Hotel Royal haikyo is the grand-daddy of all love hotels, streaking 7 empty stories up into the big blue sky, a giant vermillion flag on the lakeshore calling out to all and sundry in a mega-watt alto- ‘Need some discreet time alone with your loved one? Come on down!’

The Life and Death of the Sofitel Hotel

MJG Haikyo, Hotels / Resorts, Tokyo-to 17 Comments

The Sofitel Hotel once stood on the Ueno park skyline like a bizarrely massive chest of drawers, at once a paean to modern design aesthetics and traditional Shinto values. It was demolished in December 2006 after only 12 years of offering 83 4-star rooms in central Tokyo, leaving a weirdly-shaped gap on the city-scape viewed from Shinobazu pond. Like the cherry blossoms that frame so many shots of the Sofitel, it was only a temporary beauty, one that serves to remind us of the short time we`re here, and how any one of us can be called away at any …

Ashiodozan 3. Factory and Train Station

MJG Ghost Towns, Haikyo, Mines / Factories, Tochigi 19 Comments

Despite 400 years of powering Japanese industry, of mining, processing and shipping one of the most essential early industry elements in some of the hardest and most dangerous conditions around, Ashio is remembered far more for its flaws than for its accomplishments. Ask any Japanese about Ashio, and they’ll give you a response straight from their high school history textbooks: in Ashio Japan learned the true cost of industrialization, that of crippling environmental damage, as sulfuric acid from the factory’s numerous smelter chimneys coagulated in the atmosphere and fell as acid rain, poisoning the water table and blistering the mountains …

Ashiodozan 2. Mine and Power Plant

MJG Ghost Towns, Haikyo, Mines / Factories, Tochigi 18 Comments

Mining for Copper began in Ashio over 400 years ago, on the chance discovery of a surface lode by 2 farmers tilling their rocky topsoil. Shafts were dug and miners sent in, the process was commandeered by the Shogunate of Tokugawa Ieyasu, and production went into overdrive. Soon the copper coming out of Ashio made up 40% of the nation`s supply, driving the engines of Japan`s industrialization, providing coinage, plumbing, roofing, wiring, and material for a wide range of household goods. The Mine Complex, wooden rails and roofs in broken cascades around it. The Power Hub was the first building …

Ashiodozan 1. Shrine and Apartments

MJG Churches / Shrines, Ghost Towns, Haikyo, Tochigi 20 Comments

Life in Ashio would never have been easy, and certainly not at the peak of production around 1910 when 39,000 people called it home. Crammed into a narrow river valley, blasted by freezing winter winds while living in uninsulated plywood apartments, many would have turned to the ‘kamisama’ or Gods for spiritual succor. Japanese religious beliefs are a little complex- ask most people here what their religion is and they’ll say they have none. To judge from that and popular culture, the country seems remarkably secular. There is no institute with regular services like Church, there is no one book …

Ashiodozan Ghost Town

MJG Ghost Towns, Haikyo, Tochigi 11 Comments

Ashiodozan copper-mining town in the mountains north-east of Tokyo is infamous in Japanese history as a site of extreme environmental damage- so much so the town was mostly abandoned 40 years ago, the mines and factory shut down, and new standards in environmental care called for at the highest national levels. Now it’s a ghost town. When I visited in 2009, it was a creaking conglomeration of fading facilities- a power station, numerous barricaded mines, a train station, a temple, a school, the factory, and a small town of tumble-down wooden apartments, haunted only by a few aged holdovers with …

The Mad Ruins of Kentucky’s Waverley Hills Sanatorium

MJG Hospitals, USA, World Ruins 13 Comments

The Waverley Hills Sanatorium in Jefferson County, Kentucky, opened in 1910 in the thick of a Tuberculosis groundswell, then an incurable disease rife in the swampy backwaters of rural Loisville. The infected went to Waverley to be quarantined, and most likely to die- their bodies trundled out down the ‘Body Chute’ by night so as not to disturb the other patients. Described as one of America’s most haunted locations, Waverley boasts a total body count of around 60,000 over its 51 year life-span. It was shut down in 1961 as TB was gradually being eradicated, changed hands a number of …

Demolished remnants of the Tai-Hei-Yo Cement Plant

MJG Haikyo, Mines / Factories, Saitama 6 Comments

The Tai-Hei-Yo Cement Plant Haikyo in Chichibu, Saitama, was once one of Japan’s biggest producers of concrete, a massive complex woven through with miles of piping, studded with huge firing kilns, silos, 30-story smoke-stacks and immense clinker vats. Throughout its 50 year plus history it stripped the mountains around it bald of limestone, filled the skies with thousands of kilograms of CO2 from its furnaces, and helped drive Japan into the 21st century. Now it’s a half-demolished scrapyard, strewn with piles of twisted metal wreckage, yellow chemical pools, bulldozers and cranes.

The death of Nakagin, the world’s first capsule hotel.

MJG Haikyo, Hotels / Resorts, Tokyo-to 26 Comments

The Nakagin Capsule Hotel Tower in Shimbashi was the first of its kind in the world; a wholly modular building comprised of a concrete stack with latch-points for pre-fabricated one-piece rooms to bolt on to, with a built-in life cycle for obsolescence and upgrade. The work was the real-life embodiment of master architect Howard Roark’s vision, a character from Ayn Rand’s seminal Objectivist book The Fountainhead- a building so perfectly self-contained, ergonomic, and integrated that it would allow the whole of humanity to live in ultimate comfort with maximum efficiency- the true victory of function over form. In reality however, …

Apartments behind the barricade- abandoned

MJG Haikyo, Residential, Tokyo-to 11 Comments

The Osawa Apartments Haikyo in Sagamihara is a high-walled preserve for the recent past, shuttered in behind a plate-metal security fence 15 feet high. Outside the fence traffic races by on a highway slip road, and elementary school children play baseball in their school yard. Inside those sounds are deadened, and nothing moves but for the steady slow creep of vines, spreading like a green blanket over the cracked car parks and up the dusty building’s sides. Around the complex bicycles lie rusted in fallen racks, tangled through with weeds, and 6-mat rooms rest empty behind locked screen doors, their …