Godzilla has officially graduated from the most feared king of monsters, harbinger of doom and reminder of the horror of nuclear war to head of Tokyo tourism. It’s a strange turn of events that I never would have predicted.
Godzilla, who has attacked and destroyed Tokyo no fewer than 28 times, was honored Thursday by the city, adding tourism ambassador and honorary resident of Shinjuku ward to his responsibilities as King of the Monsters.
The tributes arrived as part of a ceremony to officially unveil the life-size head of the kaiju that erupts from the roof of the eight-story Toho Cinemas in Shinjuku. When we say “life-size,” we mean the 80-ton head rises 39 feet from the roof and towers 171 feet above the street, the height of Godzilla in his 1954 film debut.
According to The Associated Press, an actor in a rubber suit attended Thursday’s ceremony. However, Toho studio executive Minami Ichikawa had to step in to accept the residency certificate from Shinjuku Mayor Kenichi Yoshizumi because the suit’s claws weren’t made for actually grasping anything.
It’s worth pointing out that Shinjuku, known for its bars and noodle restaurants, has been flattened three times by Godzilla. But the ward forgives and forgets, with Yoshizumi referring to a long-held belief that any place destroyed by the monster on film prospers in real life.
“Godzilla is a character that is the pride of Japan,” he said.