Each neighborhood of Tokyo has its own unique feel, but it’s hard to top Shinjuku. Located in the heart of downtown, Shinjuku has just about everything you could ask for in a modern metropolis, boasting such attractions as a beautiful garden, extensive shopping options, an uncountable array of restaurants and bars, and the RocketNews24 offices.
And now, there’s one more reason to come to Shinjuku. A big one in fact, as the King of the Monsters, Godzilla himself, is literally watching over the district in the form of a life-size replica of the creature’s head peering down from one of its skyscrapers.
Shinjuku’s most densely packed section of entertainment options is the subsection known as Kabukicho. While the long-ago promised kabuki theater, from which the area took its name, has never materialized, Kabukicho will be getting a new movie theater soon when the currently under-construction Toho Cinemas opens.
While Toho runs a chain of theaters in Japan, the company’s primary business is film production, with its most internationally famous property being the Godzilla franchise. So to help the new building stand out in the crowded urban landscape of Shinjuku, Toho decided to recruit the movie icon’s help.
As we’ve been looking forward to for months, atop the theater is a 12-meter (39-foot) replica of Godzilla’s head, based on his appearance in the 1992’s Godzilla vs. Mothra (as opposed to his most recent, neckless form), with his steely eyes some 50 meters above the pavement.
Since the building isn’t finished yet, there weren’t any people wandering about the terrace that surrounds Godzilla’s neck, and it’s a little hard to really convey the sense of scale without someone standing next to it for comparison. From street level, though, we estimate that he could pop this compact car into his mouth whole like it’s a delicious piece of sushi
You’ll also notice that part of the structure continues skyward in a tower directly next to Godzilla’s head. That’s where you’ll find the Hotel Gracery Shinjuku, which will also be opening this spring and offering Godzilla View Rooms, which will allow you to see eye-to-eye with the kaiju just by looking out your window.
With fine dining and chaste businesses like bowling alleys, video arcades, and karaoke joints, Kabukicho isn’t exclusively a red-light district. That said, it does have more than its fair share of hostess bars, host clubs, and other racy forms of entertainment. When we stopped by to gawk at Godzilla, though, we couldn’t help but notice the street seemed freshly cleaned and the local atmosphere brighter and more wholesome. We’re not sure whether this was due to pressure from Toho or the intimidation factor of the giant monster keeping bar touts away.
The Toho Cinemas Kabukicho is scheduled to open April 17, with the Hotel Gracery Shinjuku receiving its first guests on April 24. And even though the people of Tokyo have been showing fleeing from Godzilla in dozens of movies, somehow we think that in real life they’ll be flocking to see the big guy instead.
▼ Welcome to the neighborhood!