Exploring Japan’s deserted Mount Rushmore

Mike GristFeatured Story, Haikyo, Statues / Monuments, Theme Parks, Tochigi 6 Comments

Disneyland has the grand pink Sleeping Beauty castle. The wizarding world of Harry Potter has Hogwarts. Japan’s abandoned Western Village theme park has a 1/3rd scale replica of Mount Rushmore. Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, Lincoln- Japan Outside Mount Rushmore As grand-central-structures-that-pull-their-thematic-landscapes-together go, it’s an odd one. First off, you can hardly even see it from within the park. Instead it fronts the nearby highway and bullet train tracks boldly, like a grand welcome sign that turns its back on you as soon as you enter. Second, it doesn’t fit all that well with the park’s cowboy theme. Did cowboys wage shoot-outs …

One-armed Ultraman

Mike GristEntertainment, Haikyo, Statues / Monuments, Tokyo-to 3 Comments

Ultraman is a Japanese icon, guardian of Tokyo against all kinds of horrible invaders since 1966. His branding can be found everywhere, from plastic bento lunchboxes to bikes, cell-phone straps, and kids’ ride. My buddy Scott was out walking the streets near his home in northern Tokyo and stumbled across this one-armed Ultraman. It doesn’t really qualify as a haikyo since it seems that it may still function, despite the missing arm and rust-coated surface. 10-yen will give your kids a ride into battle with whatever crazy alien-suited baddie the Man had to face. Scott very kindly took these photos …

Hiroshima A-bomb dome

Mike GristHaikyo, 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 …

Ruins of the Statue of Liberty

Mike GristFantasy Ruins, Movie/TV Ruins, Statues / Monuments, USA, World Ruins 11 Comments

The Statue of Liberty is an icon, a beacon-fire at America`s shore calling out to all and sundry- `come on in, there`s plenty of room!` To destroy her is to denounce the very idea of America, to throw that generosity of spirit back in her face and cry out `who needs you?` Aliens have done this a few times. Meteors twice. Global warming and global sanding have been involved also. In disaster movies the destruction of Lady Liberty has become something of a cliche, but that doesn`t stop it from being awesome. Read on for the gallery.

7 Bizarre Monuments of Saddam’s Iraq

Mike GristIraq, Statues / Monuments, World Ruins 8 Comments

When Iraq lost the war to Coalition Forces back in 2003 the iconic image was one of American soldiers tearing down a great bronze statue of Saddam Hussein in Firdos Square. Soon after giant busts of his head were removed from the Palace of the Republican Guard. These destructions were symbols of victory, symbols of an end to tyranny. But in the half-war half-rebuilding period that followed, Iraqis were faced with hundreds more remnants of Hussein’s 24-year rule, monuments written in bronze and stone across the country. Was it right to tear them all down, thereby erasing any memory of …

The exploded bust of Ferdinand Marcos

Mike GristPhilippines, Statues / Monuments, World Ruins 10 Comments

At the height of his power in the 1970’s former president/dictator of the Philippines Ferdinand E. Marcos commissioned the construction of a 99-foot concrete bust in own image, situated on a cliff overlooking the South China Sea around 130 km North of Manila. In 2002 it was torn apart in an explosion, the eyes, forehead and cheeks blown to bits- suspects included left-wing activists, members of a local tribe – or possibly looters hunting for one of Marcos’ legendary treasure troves. The bust was completed in the early 1980s when Mr Marcos was still in power, but fell into disrepair …