Long before I had any interest in Japan … long before I even knew about Japan, there was Godzilla. My mom introduced me to the cheesy joy of Godzilla monster movies when I was very young, and I developed a fond affection for the cranky giant lizard (and for the similarly over-sized Mothra and her tiny companions). I don’t actually know how many of the original Toho movies I’ve seen; probably just a handful of the 28 or so, but enough to cement Godzilla (or Gojira, as he’s known here) as a certified cultural icon for me.
So when a Godzilla exhibit was announced for the nearby Fukuoka Art Museum, I knew I had to go. I invited a handful of friends and coworkers to come with me as a belated birthday celebration, and we braved a ridiculously hot morning to meet in Ohori Park for breakfast and then the exhibit.
I’d expected to be entertained, but the exhibit actually exceeded my expectations. There were sketches, storyboards and photos from the original 1954 movie; more sketches from a 2003 movie; and a variety of actual Godzilla suits and props (including Godzilla’s lower leg, various Mothra and an absolutely fantastic King Gidorah). There were movie posters from each of the Toho movies (like me, the exhibit didn’t acknowledge the American attempts to portray Godzilla), artwork and figures. It was fascinating and made me very nostalgic. (I am reminded to recommend James Morrow’s Shambling towards Hiroshima if you like monster movies featuring rubber suits….)
Wish I could’ve gotten more pics, but we could only take pictures of Space Godzilla, the Godzilla from the current movie and one or two others. We eagerly took advantage of the photo op room, with all of us looking horrified/terrified as Godzilla terrorizes us and Fukuoka Tower. I hadn’t realized that Fukuoka had factored in a couple of the movies — the photos of the Nishitetsu train station from the early 1960s was awesome (wow has Fukuoka changed, needless to say).
Wish the exhibit would run for another month, so I could take my parents, but the museum itself closes on September 1, for a three year renewal.