Jerwood house haikyo

Abandoned buildings invariably throw up a few surprises, but in all the places I’ve visited, not once have I been confronted with a structure connected to both Queen Elizabeth and Richard Nixon.

haikyo house

Along with British political heavyweights, Lord Jenkins, and the current Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, Kenneth Clarke.

haikyo house

And the man that links them all, as well as having a much more personal association with the house itself, is the other individual in the photographs, John Jerwood.

Born in London in 1918, Jerwood eventually started working in the family jewellery business, but after serving in the Second World War — his bravery earning him a Military Cross — he headed to Japan where he not only built a hugely successful pearl dealing business, but stayed until his death in 1991.

The house in question, however, wasn’t Jerwood’s own residence, but that of his Japanese in-laws. A family of considerable worth themselves, as the father was a diplomat, which quite possibly explains Jerwood first meeting them in Paris in 1936. An event that, coincidence or otherwise, turned out to be extremely significant, as John eventually married the youngest daughter, Sugiko, in 1950.

Living not too far away in Tokyo, John would have almost certainly visited the house, but apart from some photos, it’s a home filled primarily with the memories and possessions of the family he married into.

haikyo house

Such as reminders of evenings spent at home watching TV.

haikyo house

Or listening to the radio.

haikyo house

Along with those enjoyed out and about somewhere nice.

haikyo house

Plus day trips.

haikyo house


haikyo house


haikyo house

And communications.

haikyo house

Plus perhaps most poignant of all, everyday items no longer looked at.

haikyo house

Or used.

haikyo house

Their owners now long gone, and equally long forgotten — just like their pets.

haikyo house

John Jerwood himself, on the other hand, has a foundation named after him. An organisation that to this day still uses the man’s vast wealth to fund art and education initiatives. But just like the last of his Japanese family, he marked the end of the line in regards lineage. A factor that perhaps explains why, despite the wealth and privilege, the house, along with its history and memories, has been left to decay.


And in complete silence.

haikyo house


  1. says

    Oh, so you’ve been there too 😉 Glad to see everything is still here, I heard that most of pictures have been stolen recently, but apparently it’s not?

    • says

      I went ages ago, just han’t got round to posting the photographs, so they could well be stolen. Hope not though.

      I actually contacted the Jerwood Foundation to ask a few questions and let them know about the place, but they weren’t interested.

  2. says

    Those pictures are amazing.
    How did you find this house?
    And well, it seems “famous” how come it’s just left there?
    Do you know the whole story?

    • says

      Cheers David.

      A friend found it, and then gave me the location, so it’s sort of well known, but at the same time isn’t, if that makes any sense.

      As for the whole story, apart from details of Jerwood’s in-laws, there isn’t a great deal to tell really. They were wealthy and fairly well connected, but having no decendents, the place simply got left. A bit odd, but then again, considering some of the other abandoned places I’ve been to, not that odd.

      The Jerwood Foundation is presumably the closest ‘living’ connection, but as I mentioned in the comment above, they weren’t interested at all. So unless the land is bought, the house will just be left I guess…

      • says

        Thanks for the exra info.
        It’s true that abandoned and unlooted houses are not that rare in Japan, but what really surprised were the Nixon and Queen Elizabeth’s pictures just laying around.

        • says

          No problem. Yeah, they were a real surprise. I knew about the the Queen photo, but then to see Nixon and the British politicians was unbelievable.

  3. winnie says

    It is so sad to see these. Yes..the history and memories are left to decay. :(
    I wondered what will be the outcome as there are so many abandoned houses in Japan.
    The broken doll looked a bit creepy to me. But I like this picture best!!

    • says

      It is sad Winnie, but then at the same time, the people who lived here appear to have led pretty full, and very privileged, lives.

      With the population aging, there are definitely going to be more places like this. Especially so outside the cities. Although I suspect very few will be as fancy as this place.

      I like the doll too. Freaky things, but at the same time utterly fascinating.

  4. says

    It’d almost be worth the monthly subscription fee and all the trouble of getting it set up to keep that phone ringing constantly just to create neighborhood ghost stories.

  5. says

    I want that house! It looks so cozy. :) Great find and I’m glad you finally got the pictures up. Such an amazing story. Both yours and the house’s. Kudos.

    • says

      Thanks Lizzy! Yeah, it must have been a lovely little place in it’s heyday. In a nice area too. And a unique story for sure.

  6. andra says

    it still boggles my mind how people can just up and go like that leaving pictures (!!!) and other personal items behind like that. it’s like anything that’s material has no value and not worth taking to wherever it was they were going….. and not just them that were leaving, but family members – didn’t they care enough to keep mementos? i for one would never ever leave pictures of my mother behind, knowing that anybody, simply anybody, would come and touch/invade what was once private.
    it’s just… depressing!

  7. MrSatyre says

    I’m with you, Andra! I’ve been in a few houses like that in the U.S., and you just can’t help but wonder what were the circumstances that led to such abrupt departures. Did everyone die, including relatives, over the years so there was no one to call and remove things? Where were the banks? Were the properties long paid off and the local land authorities lose the property in the shuffle and forget to sell it off?

    One place in Illinois I used to visit as a kid was near a creek in the middle of farm country. Surrounded by fields and with no road leading to it, you could look in the windows and see all the furniture, pictures on the walls, linens on the beds, carpets in the hall, dishes in the sink. Everything covered in decades of dust. Literally like someone locked up the place behind them for an evening stroll and never came back. It was sinking slowly but surely into the ground (lots of abandoned mines in the area might have had something to do with that), and creepy as hell in the late evening just as the sun was setting.

    • says

      I know what you both mean as some of the places I’ve visited in the past have left me with a real sense of sadness. The enka singer’s house in particular springs to mind. A home filled with memories and shattered dreams.

      This place on the other hand felt a bit different. Sad, yes, but only in the sense that the people that once lived there had long since died. But at the same time they had clearly led good lives, and from what I understand, everything has been left because there was simply nobody left to take scare of it, rather than that nobody actually cared.

      I believe the house was paid for so there’d be no banks wanting their money, although that doesn’t explain issues of land tax etc. It’s possible of course that Jerwood himself bought the house, and therefore the foundation takes care of any costs incurred, although when I contacted them about the place, they seemed unaware/uninterested. That said, they did say that the foundation took care of John’s wife and sister after his death, and until theirs.

  8. says

    Amazing pix, the other haikyo shots too. Bizarre how these spaces can exist in the past and the present simultaneously. Truly and eye opener.

    • says

      Thanks Chris!

      Yes, they really are fascinating places. And like you say, they exist simultaneously. Like living history.

  9. says

    I suddenly remember this house of one of my grandparents’ contemporaries. I was probably in high school. She had just gotten a house built and asked my mother to purchase a piano for her. A couple of years later she passed on and had no immediate family to pass the house to. The garden’s overgrown, the roof in sad condition and the paint peeling.

    And now that I think about it, there’s a lot of houses like that in my dad’s hometown. It’s sad, in a way.

  10. Anonymous UK says

    You do realise that these photographs (if unique) may have a lot of value in the UK ? You should notify someone before these are completely lost.

    • says

      I did actually contact the Jerwood Foundation, and attached the photos. They replied, and confirmed who it was, but they weren’t interested…

  11. isuna says

    I’ve been researching on this house matter’s for a long time now and I’m now researching on if it’s possible to acquire this property (probably not me but still). If the Jerwood foundation is unaware of this decaying house and don’t care about it, maybe they don’t hold the rights for it so it must be up to the town’s government to decide what they do with the land. There must be someone selling land in the area that knows about it since the location is next to a popular place…
    what do you think?

    • says

      No idea to be honest. The Jerwood Foundation are aware of it, but as it belonged to John Jerwood’s Mother-in-law (I think), they may not own it. But as the family line seems to have stopped, with no other relatives I’m aware of, the local government may indeed may now have control of the property. If that actually is the case though, I’m still not sure how these things work in Japan.

  12. Hajime says

    That house is close to my parent place. I will contact with local government and get land and building registration certificate. But it will take time. you, Lee, are interested with it, please let me know thru e-mail.

      • Hajime says

        I am happy you have responded to my comment. I will wait for you. Anyhow, I will go and collect a registration certificate of Mr. J’s house close to Hotel Okura, where N embassy is now located. Then I will go to that place. anyway send an e-mail as soon as possible. And Let’s discuss how to do. By the way, my English is understandable to you??

  13. says

    This once so beautiful school just vanished, as of March 2012. The grounds where it once stood don’t even show the slightest traces of demolition, tracks in the dirt or debris. Not a single piece of wood remains. Just the statue…

    The remaining houses close to the street are left untouched. Unbelievable.

  14. Jeshe says

    I actually knew about this house before coming to this website. I stumbled on another blog by another urbex individual. Although, they didn’t seem to know who the house belonged to.

    They went there a lot longer ago than you did, I think. The house was in a lot better condition in their pictures. The photos were still there and they actually went upstairs, too. It was very cool and I really enjoyed it. They also didn’t disclose the location as they wanted the place to stay intact for as long as possible.

    I’m glad I stumbled upon this on your website and got the full story. I always wondered about the history of this place.


  15. Andrea says

    I am researching a project and my Aunt found this. I am John Jerwood’s great niece. I live in Canada. I guess it would be too late to obtain at least any photos of John Jerwood? This I know is 2 years old but thought I would try. Thanks for posting the photos. I have never been there but spent some time with him in Geneva in the late 80’s.
    Contact me if you can. Thanks,

    • Mark Dobson says

      For Andrea: I was most interested to hear about you. John Jerwood was my godfather and a very good friend to my family. You say you are his great niece:does this mean you are grandchild of John’s brother? I cannot remember his name but I know that my mother knows him.

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