Six Ways to Encounter Godzilla in Japan
Little did I know that a movie starring a man in a rubber suit would be the first domino to fall in the chain of events that led me to Japan
Some of my earliest memories involve family trips to the San Bernardino, California, Fedco in the early 1980s. It’s an understatement to say that, as a child, I wasn’t very excited about checking out the latest appliances or home furnishings. The real highlight of those shopping trips was excitedly browsing the VHS movie section. (And yes, I realize just how much this opening paragraph dates me.)
Each movie on display was a gateway to another world. This is where I first got a hold of VHS copies of the original Star Wars trilogy (for some reason, I watched them in the wrong order, but I digress). But most importantly, this is where I picked up Godzilla vs. Megalon, the film that sparked my fascination with kaiju (Japanese giant monsters) and one of my first introductions to Japanese pop culture. Back then, little did I know that my enthusiasm for a movie starring a man in a rubber suit would become the first domino to fall in the chain of events that led me to live and work in Japan, decades later.
Monster Hunting Since 2007
While my appreciation for Japan goes far beyond pop-culture these days, there’s no denying that Godzilla, or Gojira as he is known here in his native land, remains a cultural icon and soft-power brand ambassador. An instantly recognizable theme song, unmistakable roar, and still-relevant symbolism of mankind’s penchant for nuclear self-destruction ensure Godzilla’s place as an ever-present fixture in the global zeitgeist.
In the U.S., Godzilla’s popularity has had its ups (the 2014 movie) and downs (the 1998 movie), but here in Japan the character enjoys a rather consistent level of popularity, sometimes permeating society in unusual ways (Chibi Godzilla, for example). I’ve had the pleasure of tracking down Godzilla-related attractions since I first visited Japan in 2007, and in this article, I’ll share my favorite…