Cycling The Godzilla Tokyo Trail…In One Day!

Following on from my Wolverine cycling trip, and with not too many other themed cycling ideas coming forth, I began to think about other filming location based rides. There was a clear winner which stamped all over the rest like no other and with the 2014 incarnation (directed by Gareth Edwards) finally getting released over here, it seemed like the timing was ideal for a Godzilla tour of Tokyo.

On the day of it’s long awaited release in Japan (July 25th); two months after the rest of the world got to see it, I decided to cycle round a mix of Gojira-themed statues, shops and filming locations amid scorching temperatures that reached 34 degrees celsius! Having left the Tokyo Fox Global Operations Centre in Shinjuku-ku at 6:45 am the first destination was the National Diet Building (1-7-1 Nagata-cho) but it took me longer than expected to get there as I missed the turn-off and ended up in Akihabara! It wouldn’t be the last time I got lost and this was mainly due to a mix of having poor sense of direction and not wanting to use my phone as the Runkeeper App drains the battery enough on its own without me checking other things on it! Even though it was only 7:30 am the heat was pretty intense and I was dripping with sweat as I lined up the camera for the first shot of the day at the home of the national parliament of Japan.

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The next few locations were ticked off pretty quickly but not quite as fast as Godzilla ripped through them all in the 1954 original! The tiny Godzilla statue (1-2-2 Yurakucho) has been no stranger to my cycling tours over the years and it didn’t take too long to find it next to First Kitchen and in front of the Toho Hibiya Building, a 77-metre highrise built in 1987 that has served as the headquarters of Toho Co., Ltd since 2005.

Round the corner from there is New Marion Building (2-5-1 Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku).  This building houses some movie theatres inside and it gets smashed up on 61 minutes.

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Wako Department store (4-5-11 Ginza) is not too much further on down the road and its clock was ripped off by Godzilla on 59 minutes during his nighttime rampage.

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On 59 minutes Matsuzukaya Department Store (6-10-1 Ginza) is torched and it appears that the monster lizard might have done likewise yet again as in its place is just a load of rubble which was a big shame and confused me for a while as I wasn’t certain that it was the correct address. The store first opened in 1924 but it seems that it closed a year ago to undergo a four-year modernisation. Below are the pictures showing it then and now.

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Next up was Kachidoki Bridge (63 mins) which stretches across Sumidagawa River and is destroyed by the beast during his 15 minutes of terror before returning to the ocean.

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Tokyo Tower (4-2-8 Shiba Koen, Minato-ku) has felt the brunt of many kaiju battles over the years. As for Gojira film appearances, it was the ‘Godzilla: Final Wars‘ (2004) movie where it somehow managed to survive a big explosion quite well while the rest of Tokyo was nothing but a sea of crumbling, burning ruins. For once I got lucky with my instincts in getting from A to B on this one.

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I made a brieft stop at Hard Rock Cafe in Roppongi en-route to my next location, though not to eat! Whilst researching this project I surfed the net to see where there were King Kong statues in Tokyo and it came up with a few but I didn’t have too much luck as I couldn’t find the one I’ve seen in Ginza before and the one outside this American-style hamburger joint was no more! Still time for the colossal gorilla-like star of ‘King Kong vs. Godzilla‘ (1962) to make an appearance on this cycling adventure though!

Absolutely no-one was at Tokyo Midtown in Roppongi when I got there which was nice and quite different to the previous week when I visited it on my return from Gojira-koen in Yokosuka though that was probably due to it being early (09:15) in the morning! There will be an evening light show every 30 minutes from 6 pm onwards until August 21st  featuring smoke and roaring noises coming from the 6.6 metre high model figure.

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Having come out of the water at Tokyo Bay Godzilla promptly destroyed Shinagawa Station on 43 mins. Quite incredible to think it was still only 10am when I arrived at this station following a three mile ride from the previous locale where sweat running into my eyes became something of a problem. I even had to stop a couple of times as the stinging sensation meant it was too dangerous to continue cycling.

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Monster Japan USA Toy shop in Ebisu is not exactly stocked with too many Godzilla products but there were a few amid the many, many Star Wars, Spiderman, Batman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles goods. There were also a few posters for the new film on the stairs leading up to the shop and the fact that it’s called ‘Monster’ warrants its deserved place on this route! Eagle-eyed readers may notice that its closed in my picture (opening hours are 12:30 till 20:30) but I regularly visit the shop when I work in Ebisu which is when I took the picture of the product below.

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On to Shibuya after that to take the road leading to Sangenjaya where I made a brief stop in the Taishido 5-chome area to photography the giant King Kong which hangs above the Family Mart convenience store. King Kong featured in the aforementioned 1962 movie which saw the two legendary monster’s of Godzilla and King Kong face-off against each other in full-on colour action.

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After that it was the longest ride as I made my way down Setagaya-dori going past many stations I’ve never heard of on the Tokyu Setagaya and Keio lines! Once I’d found one station on the latter it was quite straight-forward (literally!) just following the tracks until I ended up at Seijogakuenmae. Since I first visited Toho Studios  back in November 2010 the Toho Studios (1-4-1 Seijo, Setagaya-ku) have added a huge Godzilla portrait on to the side of one of its buildings which was a most welcome bonus sight for me. There’s a six foot tall Godzilla statue just in front of the reception window at the studios.

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I guess I should mention that miniature sets were used to replicate Tokyo city whilst a man wore a rubber suit and stomped all over the three metre high set-pieces. That was of course all done in these studios which are Japan’s largest and most famous film studios famed for making TV programmes and films such as the ‘Seven Samurai‘ (1954); one of the greatest and most influential Japanese films ever!

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Seijo to Koenji pretty much rounded things off and was by far the worst part of the journey as I got lost once and was naturally very tired and just wanted it to all be over and done with! Shops don’t like to open too early in Tokyo (but they sure stay open till late!) so when I eventually got to my final destination I was a little disappointed to find that Gojira-ya (Koenji Minami 3-67-1) still wasn’t open at 1:15 pm! Luckily, I had been in Koenji the weekend before and had searched out the place. It’s on the opposite side of the tracks to the Star Wars shop meaning it’s on the south side where it can be found beneath the tracks.

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I still had to cycle another 3.5 miles from Koenji to get back home and recover. I was way too exhausted to actually go and see the new Godzilla film yesterday evening but I will go and see it very soon and a review will be slotted in here once I’ve done that!

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Distance: 82.8 km   Time: 6.43 hrs   Calories Burned: 2753

You can read my review of ‘Godzilla‘ (1954) here.

You can see my other themed cycling adventures by clicking here.

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Tokyo Daytripper: Gojira-Koen (Godzilla Park)

In anticipation of a forthcoming Godzilla-themed cycling tour of Tokyo ahead of the very late Japan release (two months after the rest of the world!) of the 2014 movie, I was searching the internet last weekend to see if there were any other places I could use to bulk out the various Gojira-related locations. To be honest, I was only expecting to find a few shops or signs to add to the various statues, toy stores and filming locations I already know about. However, whilst searching Armand Vaquer’s blog (he is the author of ‘The Monster Movie Fan’s Guide to Japan‘) I was quite surprised to discover that there is a huge Godzilla statue in Kanagawa prefecture which also doubles up as a kids slide and from that moment I had to go and see it as soon as possible.

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Gojira-koen is just a nickname for its real name is Kurihama Hana-no-kuni (Kurihama Flower World) and in October 1999, a Godzilla slide was erected on its hilltop in the city of Yokosuka which is famed as being the home of the US Navy base and is also the gateway to the uninhabited Sarushima a.k.a. Monkey Island. The park is free to enter and is a ten minute walk from Keikyu-Kurihama Station; 40 minutes away from Yokohama. On arrival at the park’s entrance, its another 10 minute walk up a quite steep path which winds round the lush, green scenery but once you get a glimpse of the statue towering above you, all efforts taken in reaching it will be forgotten.

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Over 100,000 individuals and 200+ companies in the local community contributed to the cause of bringing this 8.75 metre statue to the area and all their names are listed at the base of the slide. It’s magnificent body is made of tempered plastic and weighs five tonnes and when I went I had the whole thing all to myself. Sadly for me (but fortunately for you dear reader!) my digital camera memory card was playing up and my phone camera colours have messed up recently so I was one of those w*nkers using a tablet as a camera! All in all that means I couldn’t use my digital camera which meant no tripod use and therefore no pictures taken with me in them on the timer.

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With the wires and pylons above the gigantic amphibious bipedal dinosaur, it actually makes the whole experience seem more authentic and similar to when he was awoken by hydrogen bomb testing and came ashore to prey on humans, tearing down the Tokyo city landscape in the process.

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So what about the actual slide I hear you ask! Well I decided to brave it in the name of my extensive research even though there’s a notice saying that it’s only for kids under 12! I saw a much, much older man go on it though so thought why not! Just ten steps take you up inside the monster and then you can slide for joy down its tail! Actually, its rather lame, even for kids as the one child I witnessed going down it moved so slowly that he instantly walked off to the far more exciting slide which lies right behind Godzilla.

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The slide can be found in an area called Adventure Land and is clearly marked on all the maps. There is a sign saying not to climb on the giant lizard.

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By the entrance/exit gate there is a small shop possessing a Godzilla picture on the wall but sadly there’s no other kaiju-related merchandise in the store.

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Back in Tokyo later that afternoon I took a quick detour to Tokyo Midtown in Roppongi where a 6.6 metre high model of Godzilla has been unveiled to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the first ‘Gojira’ movie in 1954. It’s a pretty cool design and is supposed to look like he’s merging from the multipurpose commercial complex’s garden. I was only there in the daytime but until August 21st there will be an evening light show every 30 minutes from 6 pm onwards featuring smoke and roaring noises.

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Just to complete the collection, below are the other two Tokyo-based Godzilla statues; the tiny statue in Yurakucho and the one outside Toho Studios in Seijogakuenmae.

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Godzilla‘ (2014) is released in Japan on July 25th.

You can read other Godzilla-related stories by clicking on the links below:

1954 film review      Tokyo filming locations      Trip to Toho Studios