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Godzilla resurrected as Kabukicho tourism ambassador

Godzilla resurrected as Kabukicho tourism ambassador

SHOPKEEPERS, restaurant owners and other business operators expect the new attraction to help reinvigorate the district Godzilla is playing a leading role again — this time as a tourist attraction in the Kabukicho district of Shinjuku ward, Tokyo, where the monster is working to resurrect the area’s reputation as a film hub.

The 30-storey Shinjuku Toho building opened on Friday in Kabukicho on the site of the former Shinjuku Koma stadium theatre. Thanks to the installation of a colossal sculpture of Godzilla’s head, the monster himself appears to be hovering over a terrace on the eighth floor. The new building houses a fancy movie theatre and a hotel with rooms from which Godzilla can be observed close-up.

Kabukicho shopkeepers, restaurant owners and other business operators expect the new building to help reinvigorate the district as a centre for cinema lovers. “We’ll do our best to make Kabukicho a safe and secure place,” said Mototsugu Katagiri, the 66-year-old head of the district’s commerce association, at a dedication ceremony on Thursday.

Kabukicho was formerly home to more than a dozen movie theatres, but that number has dwindled as fewer people have been going to the cinema. Shinjuku Milano theatre was shuttered at the end of last year, leaving the district without a single movie house.

The Shinjuku Toho building was constructed on the site of the former Shinjuku Koma Stadium theatre, which closed in 2008. The new facility features a hotel and a movie complex.

With 12 screens and 2,347 seats, Toho Cinemas Shinjuku occupies the third to sixth floors. The theatre features deluxe seats equipped with marble tray tables and power recliners.

The theatre’s assistant manager hopes that visitors will feel perfectly at home in this part of the district.

The 12-metre-high Godzilla head is a centrepiece of the building. The sculpture is installed 52 metres above ground level — matching the height of the original monster that appeared in the first film in 1954. Steam pours out of Godzilla’s mouth twice a day at noon and 7pm.

Godzilla viewing rooms located on the ninth and 10th floors allow guests to see the monster’s head up close. A model of its paw and a half-length sculpture are displayed in the Godzilla room on the 30th floor.

Shops in the surrounding area said many customers have been trying to take pictures of Godzilla.

A shabu-shabu restaurant said its lunchtime sales have been about 20 per cent higher than normal.

The restaurant’s owner said he hopes to see more dinner guests there after the movie theatre’s opening. “I hope this district will be crowded again with moviegoers,” he said.

—By arrangement with The Yomiuri Shimbun-Asia News Network

Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2015

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