Monthly Archives: January 2018

Japan Lost and Found

We like to imagine Japan as a clean and technologically savvy society. Yet, little known to the outside world is a burgeoning subculture of visiting abandoned factories, mines, theme parks, and resorts that have been left behind by Japan’s bubble economy or the so-called “Lost Decade” of the 1990s. How do we make sense of this “haikyo mania” (ruin mania) practiced by Japanese ruins aficionados? My book chapter, “Japan Lost and Found: Modern Ruins as Debris of the Economic Miracle,” in the newly published Introducing Japanese Popular Culture (edited by Alisa Freedman and Toby Slade) examines this local phenomenon in a wider global context.

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www.routledge.com/9781138852105

Posted in Publication, Exhibition & Media, Ruins Tagged , , , |

The Last Picture Show

History was made (and buried) here. Without this secret uranium mine in Hunan Province, China would not be able to develope its first atomic and hydrogen bombs in the 1960s. Unsurprisingly, hundreds of workers sacrificed their lives due to industrial accidents and radioactive illness over the decades. Yet, their stories were little known to the outside world. When I finally visited the site after months of delay and procrastination, construction workers were busy sealing off the movie theater of this former indusrial town. “My memory is being buried here today,” said a middle-aged woman holding some old tickets that she had just retrived from the ground. Her parents were military personnel sent to work at this Cold War facility in the late 1950s. Hearing all the stories, I too felt incredibly sad but also incredibly lucky. I would not be able to photograph this place at all had I arrived even just a few hours later. At the same time, had I visit the site just a day earlier, I probably would not be able to meet so many former personnel and collect their stories.  Once upon a time, the site was about racing to make history. Now, for me at least, it was about racing to save history.

Posted in China, Ruins Tagged , , , , , , , , |