Happy Holidays! It’s been just about a month since my trip to Japan. And it was a great trip. It was short, packed, and never a dull moment. Everyday was packed with fun seeing friends, shinkasen, sightseeing, and shopping. I got more done and saw more places than any of the previous twenty trips to Japan. I would get to every city on my list-Karuizawa, Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto, and Osaka. I would get to almost every shop on my list. And there were great unexpected moments, finds, and experiences. Godzilla was at every turn and stop from the start of the trip to the end.
My trip begin with my departure from Philadelphia International Airport headed toward Detroit for the 12 hour flight to Narita Airport. My travel got off on the right foot when Godzilla greeted me at my gate. There was a display featuring items from a local toy collector.
I arrived on Tuesday afternoon after a nearly perfect flight with little turbulence. We arrived a little early to Narita giving me time to redeem my JR Rail Pass, which is worth every dollar. My first stop was to my school (SYME) in Kariuzawa and Mt Asama to visit friends and students. Several days later the city and its volcano had its first snow fall. That same day I was off to my first shop in Saku. They have an older collection of Japanese toys. I passed on a black Hedorah for a flying Ultraman. I was concerned about packing and spending too much too soon. The day before I headed to Tokyo my former students presented me with special gifts that I will always cherished.
On Saturday morning I was off to Tokyo aboard the shinkansen. On my weigh I was greeted by a special guest, Mt Fuji. But not to be outdone by the person I was going to meet for lunch. We spent the day talking, walking, and enjoying our time together. She gifted me with one the best items in my Godzilla collection- (CAST 特撮大百科「ゴジラ・モスラ幼虫 ・ラドン 地球最大の怪獣サミット). She remembered my favorite scenes in any Godzilla movie.
To cap off our day together, we headed to Shinjuku to see the new Godzilla hotel, Hotel Gracier, in Shinjuku. What a site it is to see Godzilla towering over the hotel down. This is a new must-see for every Godzilla fan. Godzilla is just as impressive up close. Inside there is a Godzilla filmography on the wall along with posters of original art. Notepads, pens, and other Items are for sale.
After enjoying coffee and the unique Godzilla dessert, my day ended with my first stay at a youth hostel in Asakusabashi. The next several days in Tokyo would be full of Godzilla sightseeing and shopping for all things Godzilla. Sightseeing included Ginza with its the Wako Clock Tower Building, the Toho Cinema complex and the famous Godzilla statue, and the famous Japan National Diet Building. Most of my time was spent shopping at Akihabara, Nakano Broadway, and Shibuya. I found so much good stuff!
The next leg of my trip took me to my favorite living spot, Nagoya. Once again Fuji-san greeted me on the shinkansen. Right off the train I got started on my favorite walk from Nagoya Station to Osu Temple and back again. Sweeping through my favorite shops-Mandarake. I was lucky to find the antique toy shop open where I found a vintage Godzilla vs Megalon program book.
Kyoto was the next stop on my journey to spend quality time with my friend and his wife. Kyoto is rich in Japanese history and culture with its many temples, shrines, and sacred spaces. I had time to reflect and relax after the whirlwind days of Tokyo. This trip was full of so many surprises. My friend took me to his local eatery and bar where I was surprised when I was already known as “Mr. Godzilla.”
Kyoto did not have much when it came to shopping for Godzilla collectibles. But what Kyoto lacked Osaka made up for easily. Osaka is the Mecca for Godzilla toys. Jungle is amazing filled with a variety of Godzilla items such as X-Plus, SHMonster Arts figures, and Iwakura Cast figurines. I almost lost my mind. There I found my holy grail of Godzilla collectibles, Professor Hideto Miyajima’s pipe. Once again, during the long journey back to Tokyo, I was greeted by Fuji-san, the battleground of the monsters.
My last days were spent in Tokyo. I made my pilgrimage to Toho Studios followed by one more trip to Shibuya Madarake and Nakano Broadway. Traveling, sightseeing, and shopping is exhausting. Meeting friends was the most fun making memories for a lifetime.
I found so many good items to add to my Godzilla collection. There was so much that that I had to ship a box back home. I had to resist large items but some where irresistible. My haul was diverse from books to figures to records. I found items that I thought I would never see. Some items I could never walk away from without buying.
When you plan your trip to Japan be prepare for the unexpected experiences. Sometimes you get lost and that’s when the fun begins. Go with the flow. You try new foods. I found myself taking in a public bath and searching a lost drone in the snow. And you never know when you’ll see Godzilla.