If you follow me anywhere on social media you’re probably aware of my recent trip to Tokyo, Japan. It was part business and part adventure but everywhere I go, in the back of my head, I look for some tie-in to the Halloween Hell Show. I had a list of mandatory places I had to visit thanks to some travel sites and google searches like “weird Tokyo”. Brother, it did not fail. As beautiful and wonderful as Japan is, it does not disappoint in the world of strange. In my case, that is close to godliness.
My goal for this trip was to keep everything 100% Japanese. By that I mean, no English-speaking or Western themed anything. If you are to embrace the culture you should not find yourself waiting inline at McDonald’s, no matter how strange the fries look. This was the first time, really, I would be traveling to a foreign country without a combat load and a rifle so I wanted to experience the people, the way of life and how Japan truly is so I can become a richer, more well-rounded human being.
So in my quest to become more well-rounded I learned of a giant Godzilla head on the top of a building and I needed to find it. Godzilla is as cultural to Japan as guns and apple pie is to the U.S. so when you’re there, pay your respects to the big lizard!
In order to go anywhere affordably in the Tokyo area you have to travel by train. Looking at this map, you can see it takes some getting used to just to get from one district to the next. And the crowd of people! Oh the congestion of the locals! Image the end of a Cubs game and trying to leave Wrigley Field. That is pretty much what it is like in the train stations only everyone is moving with a purpose and 90% are looking down at their phones. It’s pretty amazing how it all works out so well.
This Godzilla Head was in the Shinjuku which was on the opposite side of the perimeter of where I was staying. I got the appropriate ticket which was about 460 Yen and flowed with the masses down to the tracks. The tickets go in a terminal and are quickly spit out the other side which will unlock the small door barrier. There are hundreds of people moving fast behind you and on occasion I accidentally tried to go to the wrong rail line which was met with a red light and a loud buzz. It’s pretty embarrassing because you can hear the sounds of coconuts knocking together which are heads of people as the quickly moving line comes to a dramatic halt. I learned a little bit of Japanese and “Sumimasen” was used the most frequently which means “excuse me”. Oh lord, did I say that often.
When you get of the train you are dumped somewhere in the city and you will have no orientation to where you are at or which way to go. I have found that hitting a coffee shop for free wifi is a must because you can map out your destination. I used my iWatch because though it is not connected to the net, it will still track your movement and map so you can guide to the destination. Just don’t get too concerned trying to understand names of streets as you walk to the destination. Just turn where the watch says turn and put your faith in its accuracy. Also, it helps to have a friend google stuff for you and send pictures of your objective. I still have a military way of thinking and doing certain things and “eyes in the sky” is always a lifesaver.
So, when you arrive at the destination you think that is it? Oh, my friends, you are not. The city of Tokyo and surrounding districts are so packed they have to build upward. Where ever you think it should be by western logic, you should remove that from your hard drive. The looks of this Godzilla Head was massive and it was on a skyscraper so how could I not be seeing it? Patience and persistence rule the day when it comes to touring around Japan. It’s there but you just have to let it happen and soon you will find what you are looking for.
I rounded the corner of a shop and holy shit in all it’s glory, the famous nuclear fed Kaiju of the East was peering down below with its monstrous claws grasping the side of the building. Gozilla!
I have to be honest, I was a little stunned even though I had seen pictures. This was definitely my kind of thing because ridiculous structures and pop culture make life that much more tolerable. And it wasn’t enough that you could get a real feel for what Godzilla would look like peering down at you but you could actually go up to the Toho Hotel and sit in the Godzilla lounge and drink Saki while ogling at the monster! This is what dreams are made of, right here!
I made my way up the elevator guided by signs that had the head of the beast with arrows directing which way to turn. When I arrived at the 16th floor I was in total euphoric bliss. Beyond the hotel lobby was a beautiful lounge with the gigantic scaly back of Godzilla right outside on a patio deck.
In order to go outside where the statue was you needed to either be staying at the hotel or a paying lounge guest. In my best Japanese, I asked to be seated at the bar. Yeah, it was only 11am but what the Hell, I am a lost American who just likes his monsters. I cozy-ed up to the bar and tried to hide my nerdgasms as I ordered a beer. I couldn’t help but sit and stare at one of my favorite movie monsters that was, in my mind, in the flesh. It was real and it was to scale. The bartender seemed a little annoyed as he delivered my Tiger beer and removed the hot towel and chopsticks but I told myself he probably deals with this at least nine times a day.
It was made even more awkward that the World War II movie, Patton, was playing on the bar TV. I tried to hide my snickers because my perception in life is very much like The Truman Show.
I looked around and there was no Americans or European tourists, to my surprise. I thought this would be more of a tourist destination than it was but I soon reminded myself who I am and not all people traveling abroad make special trips to such sights. Sad, I know.
I finished my beverage, got up and bowed to the bartender with a gracious “arigatōgozaimashita” which is the most polite way of saying thank you. It seems every time I made this gesture it would be reciprocated tenfold. He saw my gaze outside and led me to the glass door and with a smile, he made the motion that I was allowed to go on the deck to see the Godzilla up close and personal! What pal!
Here is a little video so you can see for yourself!
A little known and strange fact about me; I get really weird when I stand next to huge structures. Yeah I can look down from Half Dome mountain and I have jumped out of planes many many times but stand me up next to a fifty story structure and it’s like putting tape on a cat’s back. I can’t explain it but I have always been this way. So, this is sixteen floors up and the hotel is another forty floors above that. This is the perfect situation for me to reenact the scene in Small Wonders when V.I.C.K.I. smokes a joint. (Hey Sommerjam, if you start the Podcast “You’re Weird” back up, I would be a perfect guest”)
It’s a cool salute to an iconic creature that is as Japanese as the Samurai. As you can see there are plaques for the different eras of Godzilla and even some of the famous baddies like Mothra. Every few minutes there would be the famous roar but not at an Earth shattering volume. This is a hotel, mind you. I found out later there is a Godzilla suite which is a huge room full of movie history and Kaiju themes. If you have the 100,000 Yen it would probably cost, go for it! To me, this little destination trip made an already amazing trip perfect!
When I got my full Godzilla fix, it was about time for lunch. Knowing my Halloween Hell Show could use some more Japanese flair I decided to seek out another monster theme. Off to Shibuya in search of the Kawaii Monster Cafe!
This one isn’t as Halloween unless you take it as possibly sinister in nature. By that I mean, something cute can oftentimes border creepy. This, in my mind, was creepy and also, impossible to locate! Again!
Back on the train, Shibuya was the next stop below Shinjuku and again, you end up in the middle of a vast metropolis with thousands of hurried people moving like a school of fish. I navigated my way to the address and again, passed it a dozen times because when you have a five themed room bar/restaurant with animatronics and pumping techno music, you don’t expect it to be on the fourth floor sandwiched between a beauty salon and a Gap.
The coolest thing I noticed about Tokyo is it is very much like an open platform game. You can wander all over the map and always find something amazing in the oddest places. The main streets were packed with speed-walking people moving in all directions but you can take a right turn down an alley and it is like you just entered another universe. Almost no one is around but there are cool little shops and restaurants lining the narrow road. It’s very foreign based on the three rule of business mindset “location location location” but in Japan, if you want it, you know where to find it. I guess? Anyway, it is always a welcome break from the people-highway on the main streets. And you need that break when trying to find anything!
I finally managed to locate the Kawaii Monster Cafe and proceeded up to the entrance where I was greeted by two small Japanese girls in…some kind of space age-Alice In Wonderland-cat motif. You had five themed rooms to choose from ranging from an under the sea bar to an acid trip looking Goldilocks and the Three Little Bears room. In her best english she pointed to each one and I told her which ever one she suggested. So, I was led to a Candy Land Hell. (That’s not the real name but it might as well be)
This room has to be seen to be believed. It was a never-ending spectacle of random shapes and colors. It felt very much like The Twilight Zone: The Movie and I was in the kid’s house who could make any wish come true. At any second, a demon cartoon rabbit might just spring from behind a booth. I was seated behind a young Australian couple who looked like they might have been on their honeymoon. That’s when this weird feeling started sinking in. I am a middle-aged man sitting by himself in a Candy Land themed restaurant with fuzzy monsters and tiny Japanese girls in costumes. This is not a good look for me.
To visit there you had to order food and a beverage. All of it looked pretty bad or so loaded with sugar I would collapse into a diabetic shock before even reaching the elevator. I opted for the multi-colored noodles and a beer. Oh yeah, ice cream is mandatory. And your choice of blue, green or pink in color.
I sat there trying to take the insanity in but before I could get my mind wrapped around it, a booming noise hit followed by a high-pitch Japanese girl shout something over the speakers. Then the music started…
(Sorry for the shakiness. The GoPro skills need some practice)
Yeah, there is a giant space monster that roams around and hugs people. I stared at my beer as to not attract any unwanted attention. I already looked a bit too “Stranger Danger” and I didn’t want to shine it on.
I finished eating and stole some chopsticks to remember my weird lunch at the Kawaii Monster Cafe. Next time I think I will opt for the Under the Sea bar. I made my way out but not before capturing a quick tour of the room for you.
So, that was my Japanese monster afternoon. I have a few other Halloween themed tales from this past trip to Japan including one that I will never forget. That’s a big one so stay tuned to the 2017 Halloween Hell Show because you will not want to miss that one.
Thanks for being here!