Over the years, Godzilla has stomped on many buildings in Japan. Now the movie monster has been appointed special resident and tourism ambassador for Tokyo's Shinjuku ward.
A Godzilla-size head towering 171 feet above ground level has been unveiled. It is at an office of Toho. That's the Japanese film studio behind the 1954 original movie. Toho is shooting a comeback film this year.
Godzilla's standing as an icon has had its ups and downs. Recently its stature has been reinstated. That came after the Hollywood "Godzilla." The movie, directed by Gareth Edwards, became a global hit last year.
Japan is hoping the biggest star in the nation's movie history will help lure tourists. A market-opening strategy was launched by the prime minister.
At an awards ceremony next to the giant Godzilla head, an actor in a rubber suit waddled to Shinjuku Mayor Kenichi Yoshizumi. However, Toho executive Minami Ichikawa had to accept the residency certificate in Godzilla's place. The suit's claws aren't designed to grab anything.
The longtime belief is that any place Godzilla destructs in the movies is sure to prosper in real life, Yoshizumi said.
"Godzilla is a character that is the pride of Japan," he said.
Hiroshi Ohnishi is the chief executive of the Isetan-Mitsukoshi department store chain. He heads the area's tourism promotion. Ohnishi kept referring to Godzilla with the very polite honorific "sama." It is used at the end of a name. It underlines respect for the creature as a business-drawing landmark for the region.
The fire-breathing monster is called "gojira." In Japanese, the word combines "gorilla" and "kujira," or "whale." Godzilla was born a genetic aberration. The fictional monster was caused by nuclear testing in the Pacific Ocean.
The reptilian mutation also symbolized a national trauma over the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They occurred at the end of World War II.
The first Godzilla was directed by Ishiro Honda. It includes both an unforgettable musical score and bestial screech. The film is revered as a classic.
In 2004, Toho announced it had made its last Godzilla. It was the 28th in the series.
Toho's reboot is set for release next year. That's ahead of Edwards' sequel for Legendary Pictures and Warner Brothers. It is planned for 2018.
In the films over the years, Godzilla has done a lot of damage. It demolished Tokyo Tower, Rainbow Bridge, the Parliament building and several castles in Japan. It also tore down the Golden Gate Bridge and other chunks of San Francisco in the Hollywood version. Of course, this was only in the films. No damage actually happened.
Shinjuku is known for its down-home bars and noodle restaurants. In the films, the area has not been spared. It was flattened in three Toho movies.
If Godzilla chooses to return, it can now stomp on its own giant head. However, Ichikawa told reporters where it will show up was still undecided.
Critical thinking challenge: Why was Godzilla born in the Pacific Ocean?
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