Exploring Japan’s Ruins / Haikyo


Exploring ruins (haikyo) is the ultimate real-world Indiana Jones experience.

This is where the mystery is. In the doctor’s office the scalpels are laid out for surgery. Battered wooden apartments are still filled with the weathered remnants of their old occupants. Doors hang open, plates sit with long-rotten food, calendars are still marked for some future date, left as they were.
GH- Okinawa 1. Cactus Parks
GH- Okinawa 2. Rekio Hotel
From a ruins perspective Okinawa is not a goldmine of locations. The excess and extravagance of the construction from the bubble era looks like it never extended to Japan’s southern most prefecture.The Rekio Hotel was built around the time of the Okinawa Ocean Expo. In that decade there was a boom in hotel construction, hoping to cater for the influx of tourists. Many people did come, but not enough to sustain the hotel’s business long-term.
GH- Okinawa 3. Grandest Ruin
Sun Park Hotel
Along with Sports World the Nakagusuku Kogen Hotel is one of only a handful of ruins in Japan on the scale of a small village. Such is its grand positioning on the hillside the hotel can be seen from literally miles awayBrian was riding in the mountains of Yamanashi, a couple hours from Tokyo, when he came across another rad random hotel haikyo. These are the ruins of the Sun Park Hotel.
One-Armed Ultraman
Apocalypse Bridge
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.The apocalypse road leads nowhere, from nowhere, with nobody left to care what it was ever meant for in the first place.
Burned-Down House
Gutted Pachinko Hall
When I went on the wedding haikyo shoot we stumbled upon this burnt down house. Normally I’d bypass it in favor of the target- in this case we were looking for the Hume factory, but that turned out to be demolished.This pachinko hall was a generally unremarkable ruin, but it had its own charm- especially the big diamond sign.
Seika Dormitory
At the time of the Great Tohoku Earthquake in March I was teaching at a composer’s office 10 minutes west of Shinjuku- afterwards I walked home and bumped into the SunLovePrice haikyo on the way.In 2007 the Seika Dormitory in central Tokyo went up in flames. The roof was burnt away and flames roared up the building’s old stairways and licked at rooms full of possessions.
Western Village #1. History
Western Village #2. John Wayne
Western Village is a quantum pocket of the Old West Disneyfied and transplanted wholesale from the American collective unconscious, replete with a $29 million replica Mount Rushmore, Western saloon, ghost house, jail, post office, shooting gallery, actual fake Rio Grande, and vast Mexican barrens.Japan’s abandoned wild west theme park Western Village is filled to the tip of its ten-gallon hat with animatronic cowboy dolls. A Stagecoach-era John Wayne with cyborg heart exposed stands by the park entrance, silent now that the tourists have stopped coming.
Western Village #3. Haunted House
Western Village #4. Mt. Rushmore
Japan’s haikyo theme park Western Village takes its cowboy conceit in some unexpected directions; most interestingly of all the Wild West ghost house. Within its silent black-velveted walls we can find all manner of creepified Western stalwarts.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.
Mizune Freighter Tracks
Odaiba Cannonades
mizune-haikyo-ic1Odaiba Cannons-icon21
60 years ago the Mizune freighter line built one of the biggest dams in Japan. It has some 20 tunnels and bridges snaking through the west Tokyo mountains. Now it’s abandoned.160 years ago, Japan and America looked at each other down the barrels of the Odaiba cannonades. Japan was in isolation, and America (the whole world, really), wanted in.
That’s it for now- I hope you’ve enjoyed the explorations so far.
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Comments 12

  1. Post

    David- Thanks, that’s a great title. Maybe I’ll borrow?

    Val- Thanks so much, about half come from a book I have, and the other half from various tip-offs or random finds of my own. Only really frightening when I’ve gone solo, and at night. With friends it’s more just like fun.

  2. Hello Michael,

    I don’t know whether you’ll be having a look at this, but I simply wanted to thank you for this awesome website which have caught my interest for the past 2 days 🙂
    Your haikyo pictures and articles are captivating and I started having a look at your writings as well.
    I should be moving to Japan in January, and feel truly excited that I might be visiting such places. My interest in ruins started as a child. Fairly close to my house (in France) was an old psychiatric complex that, I realize know, was the ideal haikyo. The old building was fairly unstable but the newer one was amazing : big windows, furniture and medical equipment… This place was the absolute nightmare of my childhood and it took me 15 years to get inside, just before they demolished it!
    Anyways, all this to say thank you for your amazing work 🙂

  3. Hi there, I really love your photos from the Nara Dreamland. I’m headed to Osaka at the end of the month, would you be kind enough to suggest “haikyos” (I learnt this word here!) that I could check out around the region? I’m looking forward to head to Nara Dreamland.

  4. Hi MJG

    One of my all-time favourite movies is Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi, so reading your blogpost about ruins in Japan has probably been the most exciting thing I will be doing this Christmas! 🙂 Hope you are still exploring and sharing – I see this post is nearly a decade old now.

    Take care.

  5. I was trying to find information about the old Yawata Steel Works and the old Space World Amusement Park in Kyushu, to see if I could sneak in and photograph, then I found your site. What really grabbed me was the piece on Camp Drake, my first assignment in the Air Force. So, anyway, thanks for the memories and keeping this site up.

  6. Sir I would like to use the following photo of yours on my site an one of the Tachikawa AB pages Tachikawa
    Air Force Base re claimed by nature, Tachikawa Air Force Base Haikyo11 and Tachikawa Air Force Base Haikyo24.
    Thank you

  7. I was stationed at Fuchu AB 1966-1969 and my first daughter was born in Tachi Hospital.
    We had a small car (as did everyone else) and went to Yakota Base for less expensive shopping than Fuchu, thanks to the Fuchu PX run by the base commanders’ wife…too rich for an Airman’s salary.
    Tremendous memories from our time in Japan.

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