Living like Ichiro


I love Godzilla’s Revenge (aka, Godzilla, Minya, and Gabara: All Monsters Attack, ゴジラ・ミニラ・ガバラ オール怪獣大進撃, released December 20, 1969) more everyday as I get older. Watching Ichiro reminds me of my childhood growing up with Godzilla. His imaginative play with his computer takes him to Monster Island but takes me back in time. Seeing his Marusan Shoten Godzilla figure in the background stirs up wonderful feelings from the past when life was much simpler and when it was just me and Godzilla. But there is another reason I love this movie. I have a strong affinity for his parent’s home and neighborhood. His home reminds me so much of the time I was living in Nagoya.

Ichiro is “kagikko” (鍵っ子), that is, a latchkey kid living with his parent in an industrial area in Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture. Both his parents worked hard and late during Japan’s period of rapid economic growth. Ichiro’s father, Kenichi Mitsuki, is a diesel locomotive DD451 engineer working at a nearby switchyard around Hamakawasaki.2 His mother, Tamiko Mitsuk, works at an inn. She sends him messages, leaves him instructions and snacks while he waits for her to return home to make dinner. After school, Ichiro and his girlfriend, Sachiko, walk together through the industrial park of their neighborhood where he imagines he hears Miniya and traffic, pollution and bullies are monsters.

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Ichiro’s Kawasaki City apartment home

Ichiro’s residence looks like a danchi. Danchi (団地 だんち) is “the Japanese word for a large cluster of apartment buildings or houses of a particular style and design, typically built as public housing by government authorities.” From the 50s to the 70s, the Japanese government built these affordable apartments in suburban areas in response to the housing demand. The danchi was designed for family life with the housewife and kitchen at the center of the apartment. Inside were found the “Three Sacred Treasures”: the refrigerator, washing machine and black and white television set.1

“Japan’s postwar danchi style of homes were a modern public housing experiment that defined the country’s middle class. The promise of suburban comforts and privacy lured many salarymen and their families out of Tokyo and other urban centers. Today, some of the complexes are being renovated and reimagined as homes for seniors and suburban communities. The danchi were laboratories where the physical and ideological model for middle class families to support Japan’s rapid growth was developed. Architects and officials envisioned a reorientation of living space that would house nuclear families, elevate women and encourage consumer lifestyles.” (Source: YouTube, Read more: How Tokyo’s Public Housing Defined Japan’s Middle Class

Ichiro’s apartment appears to be own the second floor of one of several gray cement complexes built not far from an industrial plant. Outside are parked cars for sale. Ichiro is friends with his neighbor, toy maker Shinpei Minami (南 信平), who lives on the same floor. Shinpei acts as a surrogate parent when Ichiro is alone, relating instructions from his mother and sharing his meals and company. From what I can determine from the design of their apartments, they live in apartments that have similar features to my apartment such as the steps, second floor walkway, the apartment doors and balconies.

My apartment in Nagoya in the Toyonari Housing Complex Building No. 3 (Japan, 〒454-0803 Aichi, Nagoya, Nakagawa Ward, Hoseicho, 1−3, Housei Danchi3, 号棟306号室)

For about a year, I lived in Nagoya, the third most populous urban area in Japan. During World War II, Nagoya was a major industrial hub making it a target for air raids. It emerged from the war as a leading industrial and manufacturing center and home to Toyota.3 Today, it continues to be a thriving city and hub for industry. I lived in the city alone on the second floor of Hosei Danchi. My daily routine was similar to that of my favorite latchkey boy. Like Ichiro I walked to and from school, crossed bridges, navigated through rush hour traffic and walked along train tracks through industrial spaces. Everyday, I crossed over the Koyabashi Bridge (向野橋 こうやばし) that passed over the Kintestu, JR Kansas and Aonami lines.4 Then I walked along a narrow road set beside the train tracks, avoiding cars and pedestrians until I arrived at my destination only a few blocks from Nagoya Station. The view of the city along the way was expansive and impressive. Around the city there always seemed to be construction and renovations were ongoing.

My day ended as it began, crossing my favorite yellow bridge to return to the danchi. On my way home I grabbed something to eat from the convenience store or supermarket. Upon returning home I caught up on the news and checked my emails. On the weekends, I took long walks to Osu Kannon Temple. Along my route, I passed iconic places like Nagoya TV Tower that Godzilla toppled with his tail in Mothra vs Godzilla (1964). As I walked, I listened to Godzilla soundtracks reimagining his rampage like Ichiro with his headset over his ears dreaming of Monster Island. I was living like Ichiro. As a Godzilla fan’s dream, Godzilla’s Revenge would have been a perfect ending to the Godzilla Showa era. It was a fitting tribute to Godzilla’s fans who cherish their childhood experiences into their adulthood. Watching All Monsters Attack has become a great nostalgic experience of my life in Nagoya.


1. Danchi (Source: Wikipedia

2. ゴジラと東京 Godzilla in Tokyo, pp 191-93.

3. Wikipedia: Nagoya

4. Koyabashi Bridge (Google Maps)


Wikipedia: ゴジラ・ミニラ・ガバラ_オール怪獣大進撃

Blog: 気まぐれ特撮道, ロケ地巡りとか主に特撮に関することを不定期にあれこれと…

Japan’s Favorite Mon-Star: The Unauthorized Biography of “The Big G” by Steve Ryfle, pp 155-58.