A Look Around Godzilla's Old Stomping Ground

by Armand Vaquer

The print edition of The Daily Yomiuri article, "A Look Around Godzilla's Old Stomping Ground" showed up (faster than I expected) in the mailbox today.

I scanned the article and here it is below (click on image to view larger):

The interview for the article and photo were done on December 7th in Hibiya and published in the December 24 edition.

In case you haven't read the article or the image isn't clear enough, here's the full text:

A look around Godzilla's old stomping ground

Tom Baker / Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer

Godzilla was the embodiment of war in his eponymous 1954 debut film, but he saved the Earth from ecological doom in Godzilla vs the Smog Monster in 1971. The giant reptilian monster has meant many things to many people.

But did you ever imagine him as a tourist? According to The Monster Movie Fan's Guide to Japan (51 pp, 15 dollars, available via www.comixpress.com), Godzilla has ranged as far north as Sapporo, where he destroyed the TV Tower in one of his many films, and as far south as the Sakurajima volcano in Kyushu, near which he came ashore in another.

One place he hasn't visited is New York. Or perhaps that point is arguable. Armand Vaquer, the guidebook's author, told The Daily Yomiuri in a recent interview that devoted fans refer to the 1998 U.S. film in which Godzilla took a bite of the Big Apple as GINO ("Godzilla In Name Only").

For fans devoted enough to make a pilgrimage to Japan, Vaquer's book will tell them where to find landmarks associated not only with Godzilla, but also with his titanic terrapin counterpart, Gamera.

Some of the practical information in the book is a bit dated. For instance, it has been a few years since a plane-to-terminal bus ride was a routine part of arriving at Narita Airport.

However, most travelers are likely to rely on more conventional guidebooks for such details, using this one for it specialized insights. Those begin at the airport, too, about which Vaquer writes: "Interestingly, a video of the procedures at the Immigration desk features G-FEST XIV [monster fan convention] guest and Godzilla actress Shelley Sweeney. So at least you will be able to see a familiar, friendly face."

Vaquer's devotion to his subject shines through in his book and also in person, but it is not uncritical devotion. In the entry on the Seto Ohashi bridge, which connects Okayama and Kagawa prefectures, he writes, "In Godzilla vs King Ghidora (1991) King Ghidora blasts the bridge (in a not-too-convincing effect) during a fly-by."

A more positively memorable scene involved what Vaquer described in the interview as a cake-shaped cinema that stood on the site of the present-day Yurakucho Mullion building in Tokyo.

"That was in the 1954 Godzilla, where Godzilla steps on the train tracks, and the power surging through him causes his tail to whip about, and it smashes into the building. The inside joke there is that the patrons that were seeing the movie in that actual theater got to see the tail just hit the building they're sitting in watching it," he said.

In another part of town, the Diet Building has suffered abuse in several films, by Godzilla, Mechagodzilla, Mothra and King Kong, which must have been a cathartic experience for at least some members of the audience each time.

The book includes a page about the Daigo Fukuryu Maru Exhibition Hall in Koto Ward, Tokyo, which houses the Japanese fishing boat whose 1954 irradiation by fallout from a U.S. hydrogen bomb test was a real-life reference point for the original Godzilla film.

For monster movie fans, a stop at this spot will mark a solemn pause in an otherwise lighthearted journey.


  1. Hi Armand,

    Thank you for posting the full text to the article, it was a great read!

    And I never made the connection between Godzilla stepping on the train tracks and the electricity causing his tail to suddenly whip about in the original film. I've always wondered why that shot of his tail was done as a quick stop motion effect. Now I know!

  2. Thanks! It probably just amounted to a good tickle! - A.


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