The Negishi Racecourse Grandstand in Yokohama looms like an ancient 3-headed Titan over the Negishi Plateau. It once drew crowds of thousands to cheer the racing horses from its elaborate bleachers, to wander its long hallways and admire its extravagant architecture, but that was over 80 years ago, before it was surrendered to the US military after World War Two. Now its racecourse is a floodlit naval base, its bleachers are fenced off and overgrown with ivy, its innards rest silent and dark but for the steady drip of rain-water leaking through its rotting concrete skin.
The Kappa Pia Theme Park in Saitama prefecture was in the process of being demolished when I went to see it. The grand rusted roller-coasters, creaking tea-cup rides, teddy bear-winning sideshows and themed restaurants I’d hoped to see were all gone, leaving nothing but troughs of rumpled mud and occasionally a bare concrete platform with rust-pocked rivet marks where a ride had once been tied down. Now, any record of the park’s existence at all must be gone. I only wish I’d gone there sooner to see it in all its faded glory.
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