Godzilla Fest Celebrates 65th Anniversary of Japan’s #1 Icon

Hibiya Lobby Statue
Hibiya Lobby Statue

Godzilla Fest Celebrates 65th Anniversary of Japan’s #1 Icon

by Edward Holland
Stripes Japan

Godzilla fans will celebrate the 65th anniversary of the birth of Japan’s #1 icon at Godzilla Fest 2019 in Hibiya, on Nov. 3 during a day-long commemoration of the character’s 1954 nationwide theater debut. The birthday gala at Tokyo Midtown Hibiya, around the corner from where feudal lords ruled during the Edo Period has become a yearly tradition chronicling the king’s blazing path, which formatively burned bridges of monster entertainment down to the ground and inspires audiences to this day.

Toho Cinemas Lobby

Midtown is a bustling epicenter of towering hotels, premium shops, cafes, and Toho’s multiplex cinemas. The crowning masterpiece at Godzilla Square is the Shin Godzilla statue, unveiled in 2018, depicting the final scene from 2016’s Japan Academy Award-winning film, directed by Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi. Both are currently working on Shin Ultraman, slated for a 2021 release.

This year marks the third Godzilla Fest and once again will include themed “G-Food,” drinks, a pop-up store, product tie-ins with the Godzilla Store in Shinjuku, quiz contests, and special guests with Godzilla veteran actor Akira Takarada navigating this year’s opening ceremonies.

Last year’s event experienced a record 19,000 fans lining up for high fives with the 1954 Godzilla suit, designed by sculptor Yuji Sakai for film short, Godzilla Appears in Sukagawa (2018) and the Suntory BOSS Coffee commercial tribute to the “God” of Suits, actor Haruo Nakajima, the legendary spirit of Godzilla who passed in 2017.

This year, the 1954 Shodai Godzilla suit returns and the popular 1999 Millennium Godzilla costume will appear for the first time. Returning to the main stage in his second appearance will be Chibi (small) Godzilla mascot from the children’s book, Ganbare Chibi Gojira “Do Your Best Little Godzilla” by author, Chiharu Sakazaki.

Additional events scheduled include: Godzilla artist and designer, Shinji Nishikawa performing a live illustration on a kaiju-sized canvas, a Gojiban Monster Puppet Theater, and a display of original, priceless Godzilla artifacts. For kids, there will be a coveted sticker rally and personal mini diorama corner, where visitors can decorate and take photos of figures from the vast family of films.

In March 2019, defining a new chapter in monster history, Godzilla was officially enlisted as a permanent member of the USS Ronald Reagan, homeported at Yokosuka Naval Base. Actor Akira Takarada and Toho visited the ceremonial quarterdeck, distinguishing the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier as the sole vessel in the world to permanently host Godzilla. At the goodwill ceremony, Takarada and studio executives presented a plaque and premium 1954 Godzilla figure by X-Plus Co. Ltd. to the men and women serving onboard.

The growing fan base was recently powered up by this year’s release of Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the 35th entry in the franchise. As we head into 2020, Godzilla will officially strengthen the Japan national judo team at the Summer Olympics and anticipation builds towards next year’s release of Godzilla vs. Kong. In a notable move, one day after Godzilla Fest on Nov. 4, a tour of Toho Studios, normally closed to the general public, will be held via invitation for a select group to visit the famed sound stages in Setagaya, Tokyo, where countless productions are still made today.

There are certain to be more firsts as the leviathan license brand evolves with its generation spanning followers amidst a theatrical wake left by nearly seven decades of captivating motion pictures forged by director Ishiro Honda, producer Tomoyuki Tanaka, and the God of Japanese special effects, Eiji Tsuburaya. You are cordially invited to participate in the festivities Nov. 3 when the glowing beast places yet another enduring candle atop the mountainous cake of one of film history’s most esteemed, cinematic achievements. Happy Birthday, Godzilla! 

Edward L. Holland is a photojournalist working in Japan, a longtime contributor to Stars and Stripes, has written for Famous Monsters of Filmland, G-Fan, and is a recipient of a community service award from the Cabinet Office of the Government of Japan. 


Godzilla Fest 2019

Godzilla Square Crowd

Diehard and casual Godzilla fans alike will enjoy the 65th anniversary birthday party for the King of Monsters at Godzilla Square in Hibiya. Godzilla continues to attract fans worldwide with many expected to attend the festival at Tokyo Midtown Hibiya, where a 3-meter tall Shin Godzilla statue stands frozen in time among premium shops, cafes, and Toho Cinemas Hibiya. Enjoy a full day of festivities including live presentations, quiz contests, a pop-up shop with limited goods, Godzilla food and drinks for sale, photo spots, and appearances by special guests plus three Godzilla characters are also scheduled to appear.

Schedule, map and additional info in Japanese here: godzilla.store/gfes/2019/ 
General admission: Free for kids and adults. 
Gojiban Puppet Theater/Exhibition and Godzilla Quiz Game tickets: 500 yen each. 
Date: Sunday, Nov. 3
Hours: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Location: Godzilla Square, Hibiya Chanter Step Square
Address: 1-2-2 Hibiya Chanter, Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-0006
Access: About 5 minutes from Yurakucho station and 7 minutes from Hibiya station on the JR and Tokyo Metro lines.


Copyright: Godzilla TM&(c) TOHO CO., LTD

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