Finding Odo Island

Finding Odo Island

A Night Kagura


If you’ve spent time on the MyKaiju website over the years, you might notice how much I enjoy finding Godzilla places (ゴジラのロケ地). My trip to Japan in 2018 was all about visiting Shin Godzilla places. I documented them in the first issue of MyKaiju Magazine. I have found no better way to enjoy discovering Japan than taking journeys to these places. Along the way you learn more about Japanese culture, history and traditions. Each location is situated in its own context with significance. I’ve just returned home from Japan. I designed my itinerary around going to the most important Godzilla places. These locations are where Godzilla began, Odo Island. Godzilla’s 70th anniversary is quickly approaching and I thought there was no better way to commemorate our favorite monster’s first appearance than visiting the island locations. This is the first of a two-part blog. Travel with me to Odo Island.

Odo Island (Godzilla 1954)

Odo Island (大戸島) is the legendary fictitious island where Godzilla first landed in 1954. Godzilla is said to have lived in the sea near the island. When Godzilla would eat all the fish, the islanders believed he would eat humans next. So, in the past young girls were sacrificed. At that time all that was left was the performance of the kagura at the local shrine to calm Godzilla’s anger.

Odo Island kagura scene in Godzilla (1954)

I discovered these Shodai Godzilla places several years ago. At that time I vowed one day to visit them in person. Ijika-cho (石鏡町) in Toba City (鳥羽市) of Mie Prefecture (三重県) was chosen as the filming location for the Odo Island scenes. Koji Kajita, who served as assistant director for Godzilla (1954), said “We wanted to make Godzilla a quiet and scenic place.”1 Ijika-cho is a fishing port in Toba, a coastal city in central Japan. Toba is known for its aquarium, castle ruins, Shinto shrines and lighthouse. Toba can be reached from Tokyo via the Shinkansen to the Kintetsu Line at Nagoya Station. From Toba Station my pilgrimage to Odo Island begins. The first is Kata Shrine, only a 15-minute walk from Toba Station.

Google Maps directions to Kata Shrine and Ichika-cho

Kata Shrine (賀多神社 三重県鳥羽市, 2 Chome-9-1 Toba, Mie 517-0011, Japan) is the location of the Odo Island kagura scene. This shrine also was the site of the kagura in Ishiro Honda’s debut film “Blue Pearl.” Along the path signs point in the direction of the shrine. The shrine is on the outskirts of the shopping district nested in an alley with two torii gates. It was very quiet and unattended, evidencing its local nature and function. I stood where the people gathered and the priests prayed and performed the kagura.

Kata Shrine was founded in 724, when Emperor Shomu of the Nara period was enshrined. It was later renamed Kata Shrine. After that, in the 40th year of the Meiji era, 12 nearby companies were enshrined and 18 deities enshrined.2 In 1712, there was a big storm that damaged the trees on the grounds, so it was built using those trees. The stage that remains today was built in 1854, and it is the only stage in Japan that is still being assembled and dismantled in actual use. In 1994, it became a tangible cultural property designated by the prefecture.3

Traveling to Toba and entering Kata Shrine was a time travel back to 1954 when the world was much different. The people’s prayers and performances proved to be powerless against Godzilla. Soon he would appear again on the island for all to see. Coming up next, travel with me to the site of Godzilla’s first appearance.


1.『ゴジラ「出現」覚めぬ夢 ファン支え、町おこしの機運』Godzilla ‘Appearance’ Unawakened dream; Fan support, momentum for town revitalization

2. Katajinja Profile

3. Katajinja Report Godzilla’s Birthplace