As with many long-lived fictional characters, Godzilla’s popularity has waxed and waned over the decades. He’s changed with the times, changed back, and became goofier or more hardcore as the zeitgeist dictated. But the Terror of Tokyo has always had legions of fans. And if you’re one of those fans, you can turn one of your days in Tokyo into a tour of the Godzilla sites!
The Shinagawa Station Tile
Our first subject is located on the #1 platform of the Yamanote Line at Shinagawa Station. Near the mid-point of the platform (underneath a pair of security monitors) is a floor tile, depicting a suspiciously dinosaur-like creature in a circle. The kanji on the tile tells us that this exact point is the 0 kilometer mark–that is, the spot from which all other distances on the line are measured.
But why a dinosaur? Well, that depends on who you ask. One popular story holds it that JR East (the rail company on the line) asked permission to use Godzilla’s likeness on an anniversary tile of some sort, due to his association with the area (see the Yatsuyama Bridge, below). This plan hit a snag when it ran up against an expensive licensing fee from Toho. So instead, the station decided to use a “dinosaur” as a symbol.
There’s nothing official here, and no advertisement of the tile’s presence beyond a few blog posts here and there. But since you’re going to be at Shinagawa Station at some point during your trip, you should have a look!
First Godzilla Attack – the Yatsuyama Bridge
In the 1954 classic, this intersection is the spot where Godzilla first stepped in Tokyo to give the Shinagawa ward a serious monster beating. Well, it’s not exactly this spot–years after the film was made, railroad tracks were laid down, and a bridge was built over them. But it’s as close as you’re going to get without playing dodge-train.
Nice, but how do I know what you say is true? Well, do you remember that map board you passed outside of Kitashinagawa Station? Go take a look again. And there you’ll see it–a spot marked on the board with a cutesy giant lizard-monster. This is the closest approximation of where our hero first placed his three-toed foot on the city he loves to hate.
But why are there no other markings at the intersection? The locals did want to mark it, but Toho’s licensing fees were far outside what the community could afford. So besides the map, there’s nothing to mark this piece of cinematic history.
You might also have another question. Godzilla was fifty meters tall in the original film. Where’s the water he came from? There is no water near the intersection that is deep enough to hide a towering radioactive lizard.
The reason for this is simple modernization–the landing spot was much closer to water in 1954, but a reclamation project in the 60s and 70s diverted the water into a river in order to make land available for Tokyo’s expansion. Godzilla may be able to take on Ghidrah, but there’s no way he can defeat real estate development.
Nearest Station: 3-minutes walk from Kita-Shinagawa Station (plan your route at the link and click on the Google Map below for walking directions)
Hibiya Chanter Square
Our third spot will be at the Hibiya Chanter Square. Just outside of Hibiya station, this 3 meter tall Shin-Godzilla stands in front of TOHO theatre. This Shin-Godzilla statue debuted in March 2018 and replaced the older original Godzilla statue.
Nearest Station: 4-minutes walk from Hibiya Station (Southwest exit) (plan your route at the link and click on the Google Map below for walking directions)
It ‘s a long walk to reach this location. Movie studios need a lot of room for sound stages, and land is at a premium in Tokyo. Also, it does no one any good to have tourists tramping through when you’re ready for your close-up, right?
Walk under the sign towards the lot entrance. Do note that you cannot get onto the lot itself–there is a security guard posted. Moreover, you don’t want to be rude by interrupting someone’s next blockbuster, do you? The best you can do is to see the mural outside, the gate, and perhaps snap a shot or two of the person-sized Godzilla statue out front. Security can be lax or strict, depending on who-knows-what. The best bet is to be polite, be quick about getting your pictures, and be gone.
Nearest Station: 10-minutes walk from Seijogakuen-Mae Station (plan your route at the link and click on the Google Map below for walking directions)
Hotel Gracery Shinjuku has become a landmark due to the Godzilla’s head statue mounted on top of the hotel. The Godzilla Head roars and breathes (non-radioactive) steam nine times a day. The event starts at noon, and then repeats every hour until 8 p.m. The best video/camera footage for this event is on the street leading up to the hotel. the roar is much more colorful at night, so please plan accordingly.
The hotel lobby on the 8th floor has a number of Godzilla movie posters, a small souvenir store, and Cafe Terrase Bonjour. Cafe Terrase Bonjour has a few Godzilla-themed desserts, perfect for tea time. And yes, they know you are coming–prices are kind of high, because the Gracery is a fancy sort of hotel. If you want to order a Godzilla cake set with coffee, which will cost you 1700 yen.
After that, it was time for the main event! Outside, you can get up close and personal with Shinjuku’s most famous resident. The statue itself is towering, and at the base you can see a few bas-reliefs and plaques of great moments in Godzilla history. The best angle for pictures is at the front corner.
Nearest Station: 10-minutes walk from Shinjuku Station (East Exit) (plan your route at the link and click on the Google Map below for walking directions)
Nearest Station: Across the street from Shinjuku San-Chome Station (plan your route at the link and click on the Google Map below for walking directions)
Nearest Station: 15-minutes from Kamata Station (plan your route at the link and click on the Google Map below for walking directions)
This one’s far away, but it’s fun place to visit if you find yourself around the Yokosuka Naval Base. Not too far away from the base is Kurihama Flower World, a nice spot for picnics, flower-viewing, and other fair-weather activities. But at the Adventure World section of the park (a children’s playground), you can encounter a 9-meter tall Godzilla slide! Unlike the other statues featured in this article, this statue is perfect for forced-perspective shots of you fleeing the Terror of Tokyo. Photoshop a city into the background, and you’re ready to tell a tall tale about your adventures in Japan (with a photo)!
Website (via Google Translate; look at the map for Godzilla’s location)
Nearest Station: 15-minute walk from Keikyu Kurihama Station (plan your route at the link and click on the Google Map below for walking directions)
How could we have missed your favorite Godzilla site-seeing spot?!?! We don’t know! Send us an email and tell us about it!