Godzilla Got A Unique Honor In Japan

Godzilla, King of Monsters, otherwise known as "Gojira" in Japan, is said to be a nuclear abomination. He's a mix between a gorilla and whale (aka "kujira" in Japanese) that breathes fire (via the New York Post). Born at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean on April 9, 1954, his debut film was released that same year by Toho (via BBC). Since then, he has brought catastrophic destruction to countless cities, including Tokyo at the Tokyo Tower, Rainbow Bridge and Parliament Building, and even San Francisco. 

One smaller place that bore witness to the beast's fury was Shinjuku, a quiet and homey Japanese town that Godzilla leveled three times. Despite decades of destruction ⁠— and being a living symbol of Japan's trauma after the World War II atomic bombings in Nagasaki and Hiroshima ⁠— it may surprise you that the nation adores the beast. In fact, Shinjuku's Mayor Yoshizumi has been quoted saying, "Godzilla is a character that is the pride of Japan," mainly due to the tourism he brings in (via People). What's even more surprising is the unique honor bestowed upon him in this very town.

An Honor Well-Deserved

From the first-ever film directed by Ishiro Honda to the Hollywood remakes in 2019 and 2021 featuring Millie Bobby Brown, Godzilla has been an immortal figure to fawn over for monster buffs and history fanatics alike (via the New York Post). And he has been honored because of it. What he's become loved for is endless destruction, but if such rampage continues ... he may just be destroying his own home, cutting off his own nose to spite his face. (Do giant gorilla-whale hybrids from the bottom of the ocean have noses?)

With an address of Shinjuku-ku, Kabuki-cho, 1-19-1 (via the BBC) and his "Reason for Special Residency" being "promoting the entertainment of and watching over the Kabuki-cho neighborhood and drawing visitors from around the globe," Godzilla officially became a citizen of Japan in 2015 (via People). His address brings you to the Shinjuko Toho Building. There, his head appears, perched atop the building, watching over the town. With a small population of about 17,000 people per square kilometer, Shinjuku — known for its noodle shops and bars — welcomed the King of Monsters not only with citizenship but also with an official decree dubbing him the ambassador of tourism for that ward.

A King's Toast

Godzilla is no stranger to Shinjuku, having visited (for no specific reason) in 1985's "Godzilla," 1991's "Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah," and 1999's "Godzilla 2000: Millennium," making for a great ambassador to tourism. And if a massive, 171-foot tall replica of his head immortalized above the Toho building, Japanese citizenship, and a diplomatic decree was not enough recognition to prove what he means to this town, Godzilla truly felt the love during his May 2015 citizenship ceremony. An actor, dressed as Godzilla in a rubber suit, accepted his residency papers directly from Mayor Yoshizumi (via the New York Post). 

Following the ceremony, over 5000 copies of Godzilla's certificate were shared with adoring fans, forever commemorating the historic moment on paper. While there are no plans for another movie in the near future, new generations of Godzilla fans are being created. Modern remakes are being made featuring Hollywood A-listers, and even the recent "Call of Duty" limited-time game mode, Operation Monarch, allowed gamers to go toe-to-toe with Godzilla and King Kong (via Call of Duty). With nearly 70 years of continuous content, love, and honors, it should truly be no question — Godzilla IS the King of Monsters.