Wednesday, July 29, 2015

MONSTER ZERO LOCATION! Here They Fled from Godzilla!

The Kanda River in Fujinomiya, Shizuoka, was barely spared destruction in Monster Zero (1965). Photo by Brett Homenick. 

As I wrote about in my previous blog post, today I went to the Fujisan Sengen Shrine in Fujinomiya, Shizuoka, which is at the foot of Mt. Fuji. Even though I enjoy seeing shrines and other sites of historical value, the main reason for my visit was that the area was a filming location in Monster Zero (a.k.a. Invasion of Astro Monster, 1965).

The Mitarashi Bridge, which stands over the Kanda River, was the likely site of fleeing crowds in Monster Zero. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

When the Xians unleash Godzilla and Rodan on Japan in Monster Zero, Godzilla ravages the area around Mt. Fuji. At one point, townspeople near the mountain can be seen running alongside a river, and they can also be seen running across a bridge with red railings. These scenes were shot right next to Fujisan Sengen Shrine in Fujinomiya.

Could this bridge have been used in the shot in which the police car accompanies the evacuees? Interestingly, there's a koban (police box) right next to the bridge. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Even though the location is certainly the Kanda River, it is difficult to say with 100% accuracy if the bridges seen in the film are the same ones that stand today. For example, they both are noticeably different, and even the red railing of the Mitarashi Bridge is different from what we see in the movie. Was the bridge restructured? Was it a different bridge entirely? A lot can happen in 50 years, but I feel confident that the Mitarashi Bridge is what we see in the film.

I should point out that Fujinomiya is extremely far from Tokyo, so if you decide to check this filming location out for yourself, be sure not to have much else planned for your day. I'd also like to mention that, as in Monster Zero, you can normally see Mt. Fuji in the background of Fujisan Sengen Shrine and the surrounding area. However, lousy weather prevented Mt. Fuji from being visible in any of my shots.

Yours truly, standing where hordes of people once ran, pointing to where Godzilla once rampaged.

All in all, I had a great time checking out a new filming location from the Godzilla series. Monster Zero is a classic from the Showa era that seems to get even more popular as time goes on, and part of the excitement of living in Japan is having the time to visit these out-of-the-way places that tourists simply do not have.

Atami Castle, one of the more famous locations from the Godzilla series. Photo by Brett Homenick.

On the way home, I had to change trains at Atami Station, and from the platform I could see Atami Castle in the distance. Of course, Atami Castle was destroyed by the dueling kaiju in King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), just prior to the end of the film. As a bonus, I took its picture, too.

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