Honestly I've been covering Japanese monster and sci-fi movies for twenty years now and this is the first that I have ever heard of this.
A Twitter user called Mulboyne (@Mulboyne) has unearthed some amazing images of a funeral service that Tsuburaya Productions held in 1973 for all the monsters that were killed by Japan's most popular superhero Ultraman. The reason for this rather macabre event, which according to Mulboyne was attended by over 2,000 people, was to cleans the studio spiritually and hopefully stem the tide of bad luck that overtaken many of company's recent productions.
The background to this event is a run of misfortune at Tsuburaya Productions. Founder Eiji Tsuburaya died in 1970, and was succeeded by his son, Hajime. Hajime then died suddenly in 1973. Filming had also been plagued with accidents.
The company decided to hold a memorial service for the kaiju characters killed in its TV shows. It would also serve as a 厄払い (yakubarai – ceremonial cleansing) to put an end to the run of bad luck.
Melboyne also explains, "Similar to some Western practices, yakubarai is a very common folk practice in Japan for preventing or getting rid of bad luck, and otherwise exorcising evil spirits. In this case, Tsuburaya Productions wanted to start fresh, and so burned the life-size costumes of a number of the monsters that make up the Ultraman pantheon."
Say what you will, but it appears that the ritual worked. Today Ultraman is one of the world's top licensed entities and the TV series, plus numerous movies, have been huge hits all over Asia.
Check these out:
Preparing a kaiju funeral pyre in Jingu Gaien in 1973. pic.twitter.com/kYu1gXxU5H— Mulboyne (@Mulboyne) June 5, 2018
The service itself took place at the Futako-Tamagawaen Amusement Park, Actors brought in photographs of the kaiju characters who had been defeated and killed on the shows. pic.twitter.com/6Dz58rhaXx— Mulboyne (@Mulboyne) June 5, 2018
The service was attended by the heroes who had vanquished the monsters. pic.twitter.com/SMwaea4cog— Mulboyne (@Mulboyne) June 5, 2018
The event apparently drew around 2,000 spectators. pic.twitter.com/3CihkxVAGd— Mulboyne (@Mulboyne) June 5, 2018
TV show "The Foutain of Trivia" had a feature on the service. https://t.co/nCpmbAmrgo— Mulboyne (@Mulboyne) June 5, 2018