Ruins of The Secret World

Mike GristApocalypse, Fantasy Ruins, Game Ruins, Ghost Towns, Theme Parks 5 Comments

There is a city on the moon. 11 days are missing. The Earth is hollow. The tower of Babel never fell. These are just a few of the many premises of The Secret World, a stunning new MMORPG game that promises to plunge players deep into a Lovecraftian realm of mythology risen, a secret world the X-files only ever hinted at. MMORPG stands for Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game, a game played online in a shared fantasy world like World of Warcraft. The Secret World, as yet unreleased, looks utterly awesome, with a taste of any and all mythological flavors- …

Dunes envelop the Namibian toytown of Kolmanskop

Mike GristGhost Towns, Namibia, World Ruins 6 Comments

One day a giant went to play in the Namibian desert. He made a toytown village out of bits of things he found lying around; the husks of scorpion shells, desiccated bones, sand-sifted diamonds, and brightly colored plaster. He lined up his toytown houses in neat little rows, serviced them with a tinker rail-line, then sat back and sighed in contentment. The next day he walked away and left the toytown to the sands. Kolmanskop is a ghost town in the deserts of Namibia, built by the DeBeers mining company in 1908, abandoned in 1956 after diamond prices crashed. The …

Top 5 Japanese Ghost Towns

Mike GristBest Of, Ghost Towns 17 Comments

Common wisdom about Japan says it’s a tiny island with a serious premium on space, leading to real estate prices in the cities higher even than the most exclusive blocks of Manhattan. The thought that there might be whole abandoned towns on this island seems a paradox- how could a country with so little space abandon anything? Well, they do. Most ghost towns in Japan are built around mines, like abandoned gold rush towns in the American West. When the mine seams gave out the jobs went away and the people left. Soon, the place was abandoned. Here are 5 …

The ash-flooded town of Chantai

Mike GristCars, Chile, Ghost Towns, Natural Disasters, World Ruins 6 Comments

The town of Chantai in Chile was buried by volcanic ash and muddy lava in May 2008, when the Chaitén volcano erupted for the first time in more than 9,000 years. The eruption threw up a plume of ash and sulfurous steam that rose 19 miles high, from which ashfall drifted across Patagonia, and over the Atlantic Ocean. The people evacuated, and everything else was submerged in a thick layer of volcanic detritus. Car welded in place with volcanic rock. A shack sinks into the ash-fall. The town as Mt. Chaiten erupts. More cars grounded on main street. Ash up …

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 …

Memories of Nichitsu 4. The Dr.’s brain in a jar

Mike GristGhost Towns, Haikyo, Hospitals, Saitama 26 Comments

Nichitsu is a tiny little village huddled in a chilly mountain pass, far from the nearest population center. Come an emergency the Doctor’s office would have been the only ER, so its few rooms were crammed full of equipment, now forgotten and lying in shadow: rusted iron operating tables, toppled X-ray machinery, birthing stirrups lying in puddles of water and moss, leather dentistry chairs ripped and spewing foam, ancient defibrillators on window-sills, walls lined with shelves stocked with bottles of nondescript pills and musty tinctures, documents sheafed and scattered everywhere, surgical clamps in heaps and organs floating in formaldehyde jars. …

Nichitsu 3. A fire truck in the ghost town

Mike GristGhost Towns, Haikyo, Saitama 5 Comments

Nichitsu Ghost Town stretches for around a kilometer, from the semi-functioning mine shacks at the mouth of the last tunnel, up past the Junior High School, the heavily dilapidated wooden apartments, and buildings stacked off the steep hillside on concrete supports, round a hill of white lime-chips, past the Doctor`s office hidden somewhere in the thicket of buildings, up to the Lower School, dorm, and warren of walkways. Dis-sheveled buildings.

Nichitsu 2. Elementary school in a Ghost Town

Mike GristGhost Towns, Haikyo, Saitama, Schools 16 Comments

At the dead-end of a blast-hewn road snaking up through the mountains north of Tokyo, imprisoned by sheer moss-rocked walls looming overhead like rotting Gothic colonnades, the Nichitsu mine ghost town lies in wait, wreathed in a low mist and perennially dusk-lit by the overhanging crags. It hums with a crippling weight of nostalgia, of enfolded memories playing out again and again in its boarded up buildings, of invisible ghosts standing guard at the mine entrance, looking out of cracked windows, walking their habitual paths to and from and back again.