Wako Dept. Store Spotlight

Above, the Wako Dept. Store in November 2001. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

by Armand Vaquer

The Wako Department Store building in the Ginza district of Tokyo is one of the most iconic locations used in Godzilla movies.

It first appeared in Godzilla (1954) when Godzilla (above), during his nighttime rampage through Tokyo, is angered by the gonging clock on top of the building. Godzilla then proceeds to demolish the clock along with the rest of the building.

Later, the Wako Dept. Store building appears in the U.S. version of King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) via inserted stock footage.

Once again, the building appears in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995) during the exploding Godzilla scenario sequence.

Above, the Wako Dept. Store in December 2010. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

According to Wikipedia:

From 1894 to 1921, the Hattori Clock Tower stood on the site that Wako occupies today. In 1921, the Hattori Clock Tower was demolished to rebuild a new one. The reconstruction was delayed due to the Great Kanto Earthquake of September 1, 1923. The new tower was completed in 1932 as the K. Hattori Building. In homage to its predecessor, the new store was also fitted with a clock.

Its 1932 Neo-Renaissance style building, designed by Jin Watanabe, with its curved granite façade, is the central landmark for the district and one of the few buildings in the area left standing after World War II. The building functioned as the Tokyo PX store during the Allied Occupation of Japan from 1945 to 1952. The clock tower plays the famous Westminster Chimes.

Above, the Wako Dept. Store clock in December 2010. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

There are photographs of the Wako Dept. Store standing almost untouched while the rest of Ginza is in rubble due to Allied bombing raids. It is not too difficult to locate them on the Internet.

During my recent trip to Japan, the building was adorned in Christmas lighting (above).

The Wako Dept. Store is one of the must-see locations for G-fans visiting Japan. The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan covers the Wako Dept. Store building.

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