A haunting Japanese structure from the Meiji period stands on the top of a hill, overlooking Negishi Forest Park. Its name is Negishi Grandstand, and it was one of the first Western-style racetracks to open in Japan. It was transformed into a printing house and prison during WWII, a United States military ground, and then a bowling alley before it was abandoned in the 1980s. These five photos taken by French photographer and local resident, Jordy Meow, provide a rare glimpse inside this hard-to-access grandstand.
Introducing A New Sport
In the nineteenth century, equestrian sports grew popular and spurred the development of the Negishi Grandstand much to the delight of the district of Yokohama's affluent and foreign residents. Emperor Meiji commissioned J. H. Morgan to create an elaborate, Western-inspired wooden structure. Completed in 1866, it was the first permanent site for horse racing in the area, replacing the temporary Swamp Ground. The Negishi race course was intended to be a venue for the foreign community, but it quickly became popular with Japanese society. Once horse racing was successfully introduced in Yokohama, the Kobe Jokey Club was established in 1870.
Japan sits in a region that is vulnerable to earthquakes, but they have not yet been able to affect this magnificent building. It has remained intact through many natural disasters and was damaged only when a fire caused by the Great Kanto in 1927 damaged it along with much of Yokohama. After this incident, it was rebuilt and renovated for the only time in its history. Although the structure is not in use today, it is constantly monitored by surveillance cameras and barbed wire fences surround the grounds to keep intruders out.