The sun-bleached ruin of Angkor Wat

Mike GristCambodia, Haikyo, World Ruins 1 Comment

Angkor Wat is the last, greatest remnant of the ancient Khmer empire, a sprawling citadel and temple complex built nearly 1000 years ago, now resplendent in ruins. Doubtless you’ve heard of it. It’s the biggest tourist attraction in Cambodia, with thousands of visitors parading through its grand porticoes every day, clad in day-glo Crocs and local-bought elephant-pattern pants, mooning over this relic of the Khmer’s grand vision. A few weeks back my wife SY and I went to moon right alongside them. Angkor Wat beyond the boundary moat. We went to Angkor Wat as part of a whirlwind 9-day tour …

Japan’s Apocalypse Roads

Mike GristBridges / Roads, Featured Story, Haikyo 5 Comments

It’s fairly well known that Japan’s construction industry is running rampant. There are lots of statistics about how many more roads, airports, and dams Japan has than other developed nations. The system seems to function in the stead of social safety nets in other countries; if you can’t get a job, well, the government will put you to work building more roads. It results in a countryside covered in concrete, and thousands of rural projects that fall into dis-use, since they were never needed anyway. This is the fate awaiting them. Apocalypse Road I don’t know much about this road …

Ruins of the USAF base Camp Drake in Japan

Mike GristHaikyo, Military Installations, Saitama 478 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.

Japan’s abandoned Jungle theme park #1 outside

Mike GristHaikyo, Izu, Shizuoka, Theme Parks 19 Comments

Japan’s Jungle Park is an immense abandoned green house, an indoor botanical garden sheltering nearly 10,000 square meters worth of sweltering tropical habitat. It was built in 1969, and its peak of operation came in 1973 when it received 750,000 visitors per year. By 2003 over 10 million people had passed through its vast and humid acreage, but its facilities were showing their age and fewer and fewer people were coming each year. It was closed in the fall of 2003, and has lain fallow there like a giant white tent for the past seven years. Jungle Park`s main entrance.

Japan’s dying Ceramic Land theme park

Mike GristHaikyo, Nagasaki, Theme Parks 27 Comments

During Japan’s real estate Bubble in the 1980’s, theme parks were the investment to make. They couldn’t fail. Sink millions into expensive construction, land, and man-power, and ride the surging economy to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. All those decades of post-war militaristic industrialism had finally paid off, and people were finally taking more leisure time and traveling further afield to enjoy it- you couldn’t go wrong with a theme park. Except of course, you could. The Bubble burst like an over-ripe peach and all the wacky ideas that before had seemed so bright- The …