Author Archives: Michael Gakuran

Battleship Island Becomes a UNESCO World Heritage Site

It’s official! Sometime after 10pm JST on 5th July, the UNESCO committee decided that the 23 ‘Sites of the Meiji Industrial Revolution’ submitted by Japan for registration as a World Cultural Heritage Site were worthy of inclusion.
Posted in Japan | 1 Comment

Finally! New English Road Signs in Japan!

It’s been a long time coming, but it seems Tokyo winning the 2020 bid for the Olympics and the surge in visits from foreign tourists in recent years has kicked some bigwigs into action. The old practice of showing ‘Romaji’ – Japanese words written using English characters – on signs is ending since its inception […]
Posted in Japan | 10 Comments

The Tower of Skulls

Lurking in the darkness of some haikyo are sights that are so chilling that they seem almost unreal. Scenes that make me stop and wonder if perhaps I’m the target of a sick, practical joke. Or perhaps I’m twelve years old again and have somehow been sucked inside one of my beloved adventure video games. […]
Posted in Haikyo / Ruins | 7 Comments

Top 50 Japanese Buzzwords of 2014

Continuing an annual tradition here on, I’m back translating the Japanese buzzwords for 2014. Fresh new expressions and frequently used phrases from this year, providing a glimpse into the national psyche. The list is compiled every year by Jiyu Kokuminsha, publishing 50 nominees and then choosing the top 10 winning words in early December. […]
Posted in Japan | 9 Comments

The Eccentric Mr. Innards and His Golden Kingdom

Hurrah! Autumn is here! The lands are awash in rich reds and heavenly golds and I, tired of the relentless greys of the city, am positively tingling to get out of Tokyo. Nothing beats a warm fall day in Japan, except perhaps one spent in the company of a good friend in a spectacular haikyo. […]
Posted in Haikyo / Ruins | 5 Comments

Sunday Night Ghost Island

A documentary I coordinated and helped to film on Hashima Island (Gunkanjima) is airing on Sunday Night, an Australian television show, March 9th 2014 as we speak. Reporter PJ Madam shows us Japan’s ‘Ghost Island‘. The best source I have found so far to watch the video online is this one by movingentity: If that’s […]
Posted in Haikyo / Ruins | 6 Comments

Why I Love Urban Exploration

I was first attracted to urbex (or ‘haikyo‘ in Japanese) by the promise of adventure. The thrill of touring abandoned buildings and sneaking around places one probably shouldn’t go. The excitement of finding long-forgotten rooms and corridors littered with remnants of the past, of trying to piece together the scraps of history left behind. Grabbing […]
Posted in Haikyo / Ruins | 1 Comment

Gaku-RUN-Man – Running the Tokyo Marathon

Today is the Tokyo Marathon! I signed up on a bit of a whim, but after defying the 1/10 odds and being selected, I started training for the big day.
Posted in Journal | 2 Comments