Japan’s dying Ceramic Land theme park

Mike GristHaikyo, Nagasaki, Theme Parks 27 Comments

During Japan’s real estate Bubble in the 1980’s, theme parks were the investment to make. They couldn’t fail. Sink millions into expensive construction, land, and man-power, and ride the surging economy to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. All those decades of post-war militaristic industrialism had finally paid off, and people were finally taking more leisure time and traveling further afield to enjoy it- you couldn’t go wrong with a theme park. Except of course, you could. The Bubble burst like an over-ripe peach and all the wacky ideas that before had seemed so bright- The …

Ruin of a Japanese WWII Shipyard

Mike GristHaikyo, Military Installations, Mines / Factories, Nagasaki, Prisons 30 Comments

The Kawaminami shipyard was opened in 1936 and went bankrupt in 1955. It had four huge bays and two large factory buildings. Through the war years it served as both a munitions factory, a drydock for construction of cargo ships, escort ships, and kaitens, and possibly also as a Prisoner of War (POW) slave labor camp. By some accounts up to 4000 POWs were forced to work here during wartime. The main factory hall. History on the place has been hard to come by definitively. According to official POW internment records, it never had POWs. According to other sites it …

Ruin of a Japanese ‘kaiten’ suicide-boat base

Mike GristHaikyo, Military Installations, Nagasaki 16 Comments

Towards the end of World War 2 the Japanese military created and employed the `kaiten`, a manned suicide torpedo designed to blow up American ships with great accuracy. At that point in the War Japan had suffered severe losses, was experiencing rapid decline in its industrial capacity compared to the US, and American troops were closing in on the home islands. Surrender was out of the question, so Kaiten (along with kamikaze planes) were brought in to help tilt the balance. Kaiten facility observation point.

Gunkanjima Opens

Mike GristGhost Towns, Haikyo, Nagasaki 7 Comments

Gunkanjima opens to the public! The famed ‘Battleship Island’, properly Hashima island- formerly a haikyo Holy Grail, has now been opened to tourists to ‘explore’ along a specially built walkway. The cost of the trip is 4,000yen, including the ferry ride out to the dilapidated island. Tourists have up to one hour (weather permitting) to wander the walkway before they have to re-board the ferry and leave. This is great in some ways- the island will be preserved, vandals will be stopped from gaining access as security will be doubtless beefed up. But for the same reason, any proper exploration …