Did you know Godzilla originated in Japan? He is Gojira or ゴジラ in Japanese.
I must confess never to have had an interest on this over sized giant cold blooded lizard but a recent guest from New Zealand ” he who shall remain unnamed” had me traipsing all over Tokyo looking for Godzilla merchandise. It was a successful outing with a prime piece of Godzilla memorabilia purchased at an antique flea market at Yasukuni shrine.
Just when I thought my Godzilla days were over, I was sitting in a restaurant in Shinjuku on April the 9th with my next visitors and there before our eyes a massive Godzilla was unveiled on the rooftop of a new Toho cinema.
Having had Godzilla make two close visits in a matter of weeks I decided to research him a little more. I found out the following facts.
- Godzilla made his debut in 1954 in a film called Godzilla by Ishiro Honda.
- Gojira as he is known in Japanese is a combination of the words Gorilla and Kujira or whale.
- Due to nuclear testing in the Pacific he was somehow born as a reptilian genetic mutation. Must have taken after his whale mum as goodness knows what a Gorilla was doing out at sea?
- This story line has some link to a true incident, know as the Lucky Dragon 5 incident. On March 1st 1954 a Japanese Tuna fishing boat, The Lucky Dragon 5 was caught in nuclear fall out near Bikini atoll where the USA was testing. All the crew suffered from Acute Radiation Sydrome and had serious health issues in later years. That particular dragon was not so lucky as far as I can see.
- The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings and after effects were still very fresh in the mind of the Japanese and so Gojira became a metaphor for destructive nuclear weapons.
- Gojira has become a world wide pop icon. Toho produced 28 films in Japan, He is in comics, TV series, Video games and has been picked up by Hollywood.
- The latest Godzilla movie was released in 2014 and another is due in 2016 which possibly explains the appearance of the big fella on the Shinjuku roof top.
Here is the trailer for the 2014 movie. Having only watched the trailer I have no idea what the film is like or what the Japanese reaction was to it. It strikes me as very close on the tail of the 2011 Tsunami and Earthquake disaster which also had nuclear implications for Japan as several power plants badly contaminated the Fukushima area and it is still an ongoing concern. I am not sure if it is meant to be a kind of political statement or rather just riding on the coat tails of disaster?
Being a Star Wars chick myself I am not sure Godzilla is ever going to find a place in my heart but it was fun to find out a bit of background information about him.
Yoroshiku Onegai Shimasu