The Monster Movie Fan’s Guide to Japan
by Armand Vaquer
Californian Armand Vaquer is a serious kaiju eiga (monster movie) fan, especially of the monster of monsters, Godzilla. He writes for various fan blogs on the subject, he travels to fan conventions, he has met up with Godzilla personnel all to the way up to the president of Toho Pictures, and he has traveled numerous times to Japan to visit the original Godzilla settings.
"Original settings" is a bit a tricky concept in this context, of course. Those Japanese landmarks had been recreated as scale models in the Toho Studios and were then destroyed by the giant monster. In real life, they still stand unscathed by any monster action and can easily be visited.
The Monster Movie Fan's Guide to Japan is Vaquer's guide aimed at monster fans who also want to travel to Japan and see the sites where Godzilla went on his rampages.
The fanzine-style, self-published booklet starts out with a detailed description of the basics, from getting an American passport to the procedures at Narita Airport to the details of Japan Rail passes.
He then moves on to the actual cities Godzilla scenes took place in, starting with Sapporo in the north and going all the way down to Kagoshima in the south.
Tokyo has of course been most prominently featured in the movies, Yokohama, Nagoya and a few other cities have also had their share of space on the Godzilla screens. There, the most and best settings can be found and Vaquer lists a lot of them.
Vaquer's writing is at its best when he can actually relate a certain building or mountain to a certain scene in a specific movie. Unfortunately, Vaquer has always just come to Japan as a tourist on short trips. He rarely provides much detail. In most cases, he just tells the fans "This landmark was destroyed by Godzilla in XY movie" and already moves on to the next topic. But for hardcore kaiju fans who know the films by heart, this might be all they need to know.
In the case of cities that have only one or two sites connected with monster movie settings, Vaquer provides general information on what else is to see and do there. So, the reader can decide if the destination is worth a trip.
In short, if you are a real Godzilla fan and have always toyed around with the idea that someday you might go to Japan and see the home of the monster by yourself, this booklet is for you. It might help to get you started to actually realize that trip.
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