Highgate Cemetary West

Mike Grist Churches / Shrines, Life, Ruins / Haikyo Leave a Comment

A few months back we went to Highgate Cemetary West side on a guided tour with su’s family. We had her sister and two boys staying with us in the living room for 2 weeks. The whole trip was crazy fun, unlike anything we’ve done before, except for maybe big family events when WE were the kids! How odd to be on the other side of that… Highgate West is pretty fantastic – except for the areas where they’ve been cleaning and conserving. They see their mission there as being to bring the cemetary back to its original glory. My …

Ruined Cartmel Farmhouse and Priory

Mike Grist Churches / Shrines, UK Leave a Comment

Cartmel is a tiny village located at the bottom of the Lake District in the NorthWest of the UK, famous for two things- a racecourse that brings in punters nationally perhaps once a year, and L’Enclume, a Michelin-stared restaurant now dubbed the best restaurant in the uk. Also there are plenty of ruins… This past weekend I went up to Cartmel with my wife SY, firstly to attend my brother’s wedding (congratulations Joe and Vicky!) as best man, which was an excellent experience, and secondly to take a mini-holiday in the middle of nature. Cartmel stood out to us because …

Stonehenge’s little brother: Carhenge

Mike Grist Abandoned Art, Cars, Churches / Shrines, USA, World Ruins 1 Comment

Carhenge is a replica of the 4,500 year old Stonehenge ruin in England. It was built by Jim Reinders in Nebraska, USA, using 38 vintage automobiles spray-painted gray and posed after the original sarsens, lintels, and altar stones of Stonehenge. Now the work is surrounded by a ring of ‘portal’ cars, dinosaurs, and giant fish, spray-painted in gaudy colors and forming a wider ‘Car Art Reserve’. Altar ‘stone’. Photo by Jeremy Burgin. Carhenge consists of 38 automobiles arranged in a circle measuring about 29┬ámetres in diameter. Some are held upright in pits 1.5┬ámetres deep, trunk end down, and arches have …

The lava-engulfed ruins of Paricutin cathedral

Mike Grist Churches / Shrines, Mexico, World Ruins 2 Comments

The sky is black with ash-fall. People are standing in the streets, looking up into the fog. They hold out their hands, and little mounds of grainy black stone gather. Down the clay-walled guinnels of the town you hear the cathedral bells ringing a discordant pattern, as though God himself is beating the life out of them. The ground jumps and growls underfoot. You look around, into the faces of your neighbors, and wonder what sin you have committed to deserve this. Then you see the first of the slow-rolling waves of lava, inching their way down the mountainsides towards …

Exploring an Abandoned Japanese Castle-Shrine

Mike Grist Churches / Shrines, Haikyo, Military Installations, Saitama 10 Comments

Japan is riddled with shrines, both in cities and out in the countryside, huddled in the basin of wintry valleys or perched precariously on top of mountains- often at points of raw natural beauty and power. From time to time though these wooden complexes go bankrupt. The monks pack up and move out like franchisees out of rent money. They didn’t sell enough blessings from the shrine blessings shop, didn’t garner enough inheritance tithes, didn’t bury enough people in the graveyard plots they rent out. They move out and the wooden structure is left to fend for itself against the …

Faded glory of the Heian wedding hall

Mike Grist Burned, Churches / Shrines, Haikyo, Ibaraki 8 Comments

The ruined Heian Wedding Hall in Ibaraki prefecture is a far cry from the Akeno Gekijo Strip Club that preceded it. Here was a wholly wholesome building, built for the profession and binding of love’s vows, decorated in the most tasteful manner with Adam and Eve mounted on winged steeds in stained-glass friezes. Despite graffiti artists lending a flurry of darker images, amongst them switch-blade toting junkies and rabid giant spiders scuttling over everything, we both felt quite at peace while strolling the large complex’s moss-carpeted corridors and open-sky halls.

Ashiodozan 1. Shrine and Apartments

Mike Grist 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 …

Japan’s abandoned Russian Village theme park

Mike Grist Churches / Shrines, Haikyo, Niigata, Theme Parks 30 Comments

Japan’s Russian Village Theme Park sprawls empty and forlorn atop a small hill set back from the main road, shrouded by a thick raft of cedar trees that hide its embarassing failed extravangance from the world. Built 2002 and abandoned after just 6 months, the endeavour was ill-fated from the start: a theme park in the middle of nowhere with no rides. Russian church in Japanese mountains. Now its giant fake mammoths rest unseen in their dark and musty show hall, the vibrant blue onion-domes of its vaulting ‘Russian’ church slowly tarnish to white, and the shops once filled with …