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Godzilla in Japan

9.30.2023

Godzilla Minus One is coming to the U.S. soon (December 1). Time cannot fly fast enough and my flight to Japan cannot come soon enough. Seeing Godzilla in the movie theaters is a rare sighting. When it happens fans assemble for those special occasions. Growing up Godzilla was an exclusive television event for most of my life with a notable exception. Since the release of the Legendary Godzilla in 2014 and the MonsterVerse in 2019, our favorite monster has stomped more often across the nation screens and popped up in independent and local theater showings. Before 2014, the only way I had to see Godzilla was on TV and to wait for release on VHS and disc. The only other way to see Godzilla movies was to fly to Japan. And that’s what I did.

My fist ticket to Japan in 1994 along with movie tickets

My fist ticket to Japan in 1994 along with my tickets to Godzilla vs SpaceGodzilla playing in Ikebukuro

Going to Japan is a dream for Godzilla fans but only realized by a few. Since the mid 90s I’ve been privileged to see Godzilla on the big screen in Japan: Godzilla vs Space Godzilla (1994), Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla (2002) and Shin Godzilla (2016). As I prepare for the next trip to see Godzilla Minus One I’ve been looking back to those good times and lasting memories.

Godzilla vs SpaceGodzilla playing in Shinjuku during my first trip in 1994
Shin Godzilla playing in Shinjuku taken during my trip to Japan in 2016

Godzilla vs SpaceGodzilla playing in Shinjuku during my first trip to Japan in 1994 and Shin Godzilla in 2016

One of my fondest memories of the Heisei era was waiting for a bootleg copy of the latest Godzilla movie on VHS tape to arrive upon U.S. shores. After completing my first college degree in 1994, I was determined to go to Japan. For this reason Godzilla vs SpaceGodzilla will always be dear to me. Although not as popular as other Heisei installments, I took it all in while sitting alone in the balcony at my favorite Ikebukuro theatre on my last night in Tokyo.

Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla playing at Humax Cinemas in Ikebukuro in 2003

Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla playing at Humax Cinemas in Ikebukuro taken during my trip to Japan in 2003

After that first trip, I was ramping up for the next one inviting my friends and family to go along with me for two trips in January and September of 1999. The Heisei era came to a close with the release of Godzilla vs Destoroyah (1995) and gave way to the Hollywood Godzilla in 1998. But disappointed, Toho quickly responded with Godzilla 2000 (1999) to inaugurate the Godzilla Millennium Series. Although I wasn’t in Japan to see it and missed its U.S. release, I got to see Godzilla against MechaGodzilla (2002) again in Ikebukuro.

Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla (2002) programa and soundtrack
Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla (2002) program and soundtrack purchased during my trip in 2003

Then, after an even longer furlough than Godzilla I was back in Japan in 2016 to see the hit Shin Godzilla. Seeing Godzilla in Japan is not only a privilege but it has become a personal mission. It’s a dream worth pursuing for fans whom I hope to sit beside along with Japanese fans and moviegoers at the next Godzilla movie release. Until then, “the balcony is closed.”