Wednesday, April 4, 2012

GAMERA RAVAGES CHOFU! Could other Japanese cities follow Chofu's lead in using kaiju to promote tourism?

"Hai, chiizu!" sez Gamera to the Western paparazzi.

One of Japan's most beloved giant monsters has fans in Chofu, Tokyo, seeing double.

Chofu's tourist information center (Choufu-shi Kanko Annaish) has turned to Gamera for help in promoting interest in the city. Kaiju fans in the area have the opportunity to the two versions of the one and only Gamera!

Your humble blogmeister with one of the Gamera suits on display.

Although Gamera has stomped his way into the storefront window, the heart and soul of the center (which also goes by the name of Nukumori Station) is the works of Shigeru Mizuki, creator of the popular manga Gegege no Kitaro.

Shigeru Mizuki's ghoulish characters greet Chofu tourists.

That's great and all, but we want to see more monsters!

Gamera ... ugh, I mean "Toto," as he's seen from the streets of Chofu.

Goofing off with Gamera should be one of the highlights of any kaiju fan's visit to Japan!

While not kaiju-related, another great piece of movie memorabilia is on hand at the tourism center.

The Burmese harp from ... The Burmese Harp (1956) is also on display in Chofu for a limited time.

That's right; the burmese harp from Nikkatsu's classic film of the same name is also on display. According to the center's staff, the harp won't be there for much longer, so for those fortunate souls nearby, stop in and see it while you still can!

Lights, action, Gamera!

But wait! There's even more! Daiei's other popular SFX franchise is represented in Chofu...

Majin strikes back!

Replica statues of the, well, other Majin statues outside of Kadokawa Studios were displayed along with Blu-ray copies of their films. Based on what I was told by the staff, these statues are likely already gone!

An essential travel guide for movie fans in Japan -- available only at the Chofu tourism center!

The center is a five-minute walk from the north exit of the Keio Line at Chofu Station. It's open from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and hosts a Chofu City guidebook corner, Shigeru Mizuki display corner, Kitaro merchandise shop, and other goodies.

The staff told us that the Gamera suits were most likely not a permanent display, but they're not sure how long they'll be available. Hopefully the Friend of All Children will stick around long enough to meet and mingle with his Western kaiju fans.

Chofu City is really onto something here. Reward good behavior and spend some of your travel dollars where they appreciate kaiju eiga!

Special thanks to Ayako Mio and Yasushi Shiroi.

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