The Abandoned Negishi Grandstand (1/2)
In Yokohama, near Tokyo, is one of the most famous ruins of Japan: the Negishi Grandstand. This is a favorite spot among Japanese urban explorers but despite its outside, I have never dared to explore it.
It is an impenetrable fortress. It lies between the United States Fleet Activities Yokosuka in the park of Negishi, and it is monitored by cameras that are not so dusty at all (for once), and …
… It is surrounded by barbwire fence in height, curved inward, ready to do some damage on any intruders. At first glance, the difficulty to enter is similar to the abandoned military base in Fuchu, but after a few times walking around, I realize the fact that access to the inside is almost impossible.
At Fuchu, we could get help from the surrounding plants and buildings (with a little craziness of course). But Negishi, there is nothing: it is a fence and barbed wire, with nothing else around. And of course, between a public park and an active military base, very difficult to sneak in. There must be some secret entrance …. So, let’s go with someone who knows the terrain.
5am. I found my Japanese friend standing in front of the barbwire of Negishi. I was all excited to be able to finally reveal the secret of this place. But he merely asked me: “Well then, Here we are. Should I climb up? Or do you want to go first?”. What? Pardon? The secrete is that you need to fly over the fence and barbwire, and that’s it? I begin to weigh the pros and cons, or maybe to give up. Then there is the big show: my friend, despite his perfect character of being all quiet and serious, took no time and jumped right on the fence , climbing up like a ninja, barely touched the barbwire during a perfect jump and fell very nimble on the other side. Technically it is very nicely done, very clean, very calculated and controlled. I decided to follow him and do the same. And my result was: very difficult, a lot of noise, cuts on the hand, but … it went OK in the end.
Of course, the doors are all blocked. A few more Ninja jumps were necessary to get inside the old building. I imagined the entering a lot easier … I dare not thinking about the getting out part later!
We are now finally in the Negishi Grandstand. I will discuss its history in the second article, for now we will focus on the visit. It is very early so of course we are still in complete darkness. Fortunately, I have not come empty handed. The gears I brought guaranteed me the opportunity to practice light painting techniques that I studied recently.
Ready? Let’s go for a visit to the of Negishi Grandstand in the nice morning, but all in light.
The ground floor is quite marshy. It looks like a big rusty shed and the only objects found there are old bulbs. Apparently there was a bowling alley here at one point so it could be the remains … unless it was to shed nice light on the building from the outside? This staircase leads to the second floor.
I could almost smell the fetid breath of the devil from this room … with the background noises of a blacksmith forging, metal against metal, and of course accompanied by an intense heat … But in reality, the place is incredibly cold. I take photos in darkness, dancing with my LED lamp in the silence broken only by a few drops of water leaking from the pipeline.
Climbing to the third floor, by far the one who should be most active at its time. There was the office of the quartermaster (the “Quarter Master”), administrative offices and various other rooms which must have hosted many people in the past. Impossible not to remember Fuchu,the font used on the wall is the same.
I’m not sure that’s a good idea to disturb the ghost of Lieutenant …
Well anyways. Let’s Go!
The commandant’s office, a briefing room, and then another room with shelves full of little yellow objects, associated with different military positions: plotter, communicator … What could it be? And according to the message that follows, there were nasty little thieves! The radio equipments must have made a lot of people jealous.
Very interesting! We find here the military emergencies codes. Things like: “ALPHA 35.42,139.63 – CHARLIE 3 – DELTA 31 -FOXTROT 0.08 – GOLF 31”.
Beyond lies a room that has nothing to do with the other: a photography workshop. It must be from the same era? Of course, the place is empty, and therefore this is not where those stingy staff at Bic Camera store the tiny stock of NikonD800.
This visit is a whole new experience for me. I am visiting an ancient ruin while giving it new life and characters, and it allows me to discover things my own way. Maybe similar to we do in dreams, we construct a world from scratch with real elements around us. Experience with one foot in reality, the other in imagination … a sort of waking dream indeed. This is in fact one of the principles for photography, which I happen to realize here in an obvious way.
Of course, it’s very exciting to experiment the art of light-painting for the first time; I really want to exaggerate the effect I produced, while at the same time I try to control myself because I do not want to be insulted as I was for my HDR photos of Nara Dreamland and Gunkanjima! 🙂 (Those photos are taken at my debut with a DSLR, and it is true that they are relatively violent and clumsy. And of course there are plans to go back to those destinations again to repent my mistakes. )
We took the lift then landed in a ballroom full of ghosts …
The sun rises and quickly, when the first rays of sunshine trying to sneak inside, we hear voices on all sides of the old building.
Now we cam discover for the first time this ruin in its natural colors ……
The local elderly are rambling with their dogs; teenage girls and boys, are having fun on the basketball court; the U.S. Army soldiers joking and laughing loudly on the other side; children, playing in the park, happily enjoying the back ground music. And here we are … in the middle of all this turmoil. The life outside, at once so close but now so far the world, brings a strange feeling.
We decide to climb to the top quickly by visiting every floor, to get an idea of this whole place and possible things to discover.
We finally arrive on the 7th floor. There are actually three of them, as they locate in each of the three towers (refer to the first photo if you forget). Then there is an 8th floor connected by a ladder, probably leading to a ventilator on the roof. Unfortunately, it is protected with a chain and a large padlock.
The story will end here. Please wait for the next article to find out the history of Negishi Grandstand, its atmosphere during the day, and some more experiments (other than light painting) and perhaps … a visit to the roof.
End of this first article on the Negishi Grandstand. Do you find this building a bit strange? What do you feel about it? And what are those little yellow things on the shelves? Any ideas?
Also I would like to hear about the light painting, is it a value added … or the opposite? 🙂 Read the second article about the Yokohama Negishi Grandstand now!