Japan Loves “Big Things” Too, And These Are Eight You Should See
While Australia loves its “big things” (Big Banana, Big Prawn, Big Merino) so too does Japan with its bizarre array of quirky oversized attractions. Planning a visit? Here are eight Big Things you have to see in Japan.
Japan’s Big Things
Image: Hotel GraceryJapan’s very own king of the monsters, Godzilla has been the subject of 29 movies over more than sixty years. You can still find him in his hometown of Tokyo towering over the Toho Building, which happens to be the studio responsible for the creation of the monster.
Inside the building you’ll also find the Hotel Gracery which offers guests Godzilla-themed rooms. The giant head’s eye light up and it roars and screeches every few minutes.
Where: You’ll spot Godzilla’s head by visiting Tokyo’s Shinjuku ward just near Shinjuku Station. Look above the Toho building -you can’t miss him!
At nearly 20 metres tall, this guardian robot was built in Kobe following a deadly earthquake that devastated the city in 1995. The Tetsuijin-28 manga character’s purpose is to guard over the citizens of Kobe and symbolise strength in any further disaster.
Where: The robot statue is located in Kobe’s Wakamatsu Park and is joined by a variety of other popular manga characters. The park is a short walk from Shin-Nagata Station.
World’s Largest Rice Scoop
Japan takes their rice seriously, and if you’re venturing through the Omotesando shopping district in Miyajima you’ll find a 7.7-metre rice scoop that weighs 2.5 tonnes. The scoop took three years to carve and is said to commemorate the 1996 designation of Itsukushima Shrine as a World Heritage Site. Most travellers come here for the Shrine and all its gorgeousness, but as there were no souvenirs specific to the region, the rice scoop helped put the region on the map.
Where: Miajima can be accessed by a 10-minute ferry trip from Miyajimaguchi. Ferry ride is free with a Japan Rail Pass.
The Gorilla Building
You won’t need to venture out of Tokyo to find this oversized King Kong-like gorilla hanging onto a multi-level FamilyMart convenience store in the Sangenjava neighbourhood. While technically not a King Long replica, the strangely similar beast hangs from the building with a small pig-tailed girl in his hand, Fay Wray style.
Where: Locally known as the “Gorilla Building”, it’s just a seven-minute walk from the Sangenjaya Metro Station in Tokyo.
Giant Buddha of Japan
This bronze monument is the tallest statue of Buddha in Japan with a height of more than 2,135 meters. It’s located in Aomori City, at the Seiryuji (Blue-Green Dragon) Temple and the surrounding area offers gorgeous pagoda buildings and gardens that are oh-so-photographable.
Where: Aomori is located in the northernmost tip of the main island of Japan. If you can take a few days out of your itinerary. There’s also the UNESCO World Heritage Site Shirakami Sanchi and the famous cherry blossom viewing spot Hirosaki Park nearby.
Venture north to the coastal area of Niigata where it’s rice paddies as far as the eye can see. Each year from late August to the end of October the rice is harvested leaving the rice straw (called “wara“) as leftover crop wastage. Each year, the excess is used for things like livestock feed and fertiliser, but it’s also sculpted into oversized animals.
For the last decade Musahino Art Univeristy has enlisted its students to craft these sculptures as part of a festival held each year called the Wara Art Festival. From rhinos to gorillas, dinosaurs and everything in between, visitors come each year to get a photo of these larger-than-life creatures.
Where: Niigata is located in Northern Japan. Get there fast (in about two hours’ time) on a bullet train from Tokyo.
Easter Island Replicas
If you can’t get to Easter Island to see the original sacred Polynesian monolith “Moai” (more commonly known as the Easter Island Heads), you can see replicas of them in Japan at Sun Messe Nichinan.
On the southern tip of Japan, these seven Moai statues are set against gorgeous views over the Pacific Ocean in the city park of Nichinan-shi. Each statue represents a good blessing (health, wealth, love, wisdom, career, leisure, and marriage) as well as representing the Easter Island explorers. There’s also a Moai museum, a variety of other seaside sculptures and beautiful gardens to explore. While you’re in the region, make another stop at nearby Takachiho Gorge (you’re welcome).
Where: Nichinsan-shi is a 40-minute drive from Miyazaki airport and the park is open most days from 9:30am to 5pm (except the first and third Wednesday of each month).
Giant Fruit Bus Stops
Just like James and his giant peach, travellers to the town of Konagai in Nagasaki can take the local bus to visit fourteen oversized fruity bus stops. From apples to oranges, and everything in between, the bus stops were designed in 1990 for the expo in Osaka, the fruity shelters were such a hit, they were moved to draw crowds to Konagai, a coastal town by the Ariake Sea.
Where: Hop on the bus in Konagai to catch them all or if you have a car, drive along Highway 207 through the centre of town to spot all 14.
(Lead image: Shutterstock)