Odaiba Cannonades

Mike Grist Haikyo, Military Installations, Tokyo-to 3 Comments

160 years ago, Japan and America looked at each other down the barrels of cannon. Japan was in isolation, and America (the whole world, really), wanted in. Five island forts stuffed with cannon (‘daiba’) were built across Tokyo Bay to repel foreign invasion. They were never used. The foreign invasion came, and Japan opened its doors to the world. Now three of those islands are gone, incorporated into recent land developments. Two remain, one preserved, the other conserved as a habitat for birds. But why were they built at all? Why was Japan so afraid of letting foreigners in to …

Fuchu US Airbase Heyday

Mike Grist Haikyo, Military Installations, Tokyo-to 275 Comments

Since publishing my 2008 explore and photos of the abandoned US Air Force base in Fuchu, Japan, it’s been one of the most popular pages on this site. See it here. It has attracted hundreds of veteran airmen from the 50’s onwards to comment and reconnect with old friends and colleagues- some of whom at times sent me photos from the Base’s heyday to include in a heyday page. This is that page. Thanks to 4 airmen in particular- Carl Lindberg, Cliff Cockerill, Bill Lambert, Dale Lingenfelter, and Donn Paris for taking the trouble to scan and send the photos …

The ruins of Monkey Island

Mike Grist Haikyo, Kanagawa, Military Installations 11 Comments

No, not the game. This particular Monkey Island (‘Sarushima’ in Japanese) is located off the coast of Yokosuka near the mouth of Tokyo Bay, and during World War II served as an artillery battery and first point of defense of the Japanese homeland. After the war the anti-aircraft guns were removed, a ferry service began, the beach was opened to tourists, and walking trails were prepared around the various defensive bunkers carved into the rock. Now it’s a great spot for a BBQ and some sun-bathing. Long walkway troughs cut through the jungle and rock.

Ruins of the USAF base Camp Drake in Japan

Mike Grist Haikyo, Military Installations, Saitama 453 Comments

Camp Drake was a joint US Army/Air Force base in Saitama, active until the 1970`s. It contained a hospital which handled troops coming out of Vietnam and also a communications array. Now about half of it remains, an overgrown jungle with only a few remaining buildings set back behind several layers of fencing. The other half has been eaten up by parks and a junior high school. Tanks in a shed by the commissary.

Remnants of the US Air Force Base in Tachikawa, Japan

Mike Grist Haikyo, Military Installations, Tokyo-to 658 Comments

The abandoned US Air Force (USAF) base in Tachikawa is a bramble-choked memento from the early days of Japanese/American war and peace. It was annexed by the USA shortly after World War II, in co-operation with the still-active nearby Japan Army (SDF) Base, then abandoned in the 1970’s as the Vietnam war came to a close. Its three huge chimneys are still visible from the exterior, brick-red and lined up like masts on a rudderless ship, slowly sinking deeper into the smothering sea of green jungle. Its airstrip now swims with weeds, and bamboo forests have grown through the foundations …

Hiroshima A-bomb dome

Mike Grist Haikyo, Hiroshima, Military Installations, Nuclear, Statues / Monuments, Vaults 47 Comments

At 8:15 on August 6 1945 the first nuclear bomb in the history of warfare detonated over Hiroshima, obliterating the city within a 1.5 mile radius and killing outright some 80,000 people, with around another 70,000 dying of radiation and burns by the end of the year. Japanese pilots flying on reconnaissance missions to the city after all radio transmissions went dead said that `practically all living things, human and animal, were literally seared to death`. The A-bomb dome (genbaku dome, originally Hiroshima Trade Promotion Hall) was only 150 meters away from the blast hypocenter. It survived because of its …

Ruin of a Japanese WWII Shipyard

Mike Grist Haikyo, 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 Grist Haikyo, Military Installations, Nagasaki 15 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.

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 …

Relics of America’s youth: Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas

Mike Grist Military Installations, USA, World Ruins 7 Comments

Way back in 1825, with the revolutionary war 49 years past and the purchase of Florida from Spain only 5 years gone, America still very much feared attack by a foreign power. Inspectors were sent to the Dry Tortugas in the mouth of the Gulf of Mexico to source sturdy islands for fortification. 21 years later Fort Jefferson was built on sandy Garden Key, designed to consolidate the young country’s coastal defences and secure her lines of naval trade. Fort Jefferson, over 100 years ‘abandoned’ For only 42 it saw active military service, in Federal hands for the Civil War, …