Welcome to one of Tokyo’s strangest tourist attractions, a 20-meter robot standing in a park, overlooking the harbor of the world’s manga metropolis.
The lifesize, plastic replica of a robot or “Mobile Suit”, from Gundam, (a hugely popular Japanese animation series), officially opened on July 11, 2009, for the celebration of Gundam’s 30th anniversary. It was closed on August 31, however, such a sight could not remain hidden away for long. After attracting 4.5 million visitors in its first month on display, it popped up again the following year in Shizuoka, where Bandai manufactures its popular Gundam models.
It was returned to Tokyo in 2011, displayed in fragments that visitors could pay a small fee to check out or take pictures with, to raise money following the tsunami that had devastated Japan. It is now back in all its glory, outside of a new theme park and museum of all things Gundam, called Gundam Base in the Diver City shopping center.
The robot—which shoots smoke and lasers, can move its arms and head, and plays disco music—will be a number one draw on the sightseeing hitlist of visiting otaku, as anime-loving geeks are called here. The Gundam robot is large enough to be visible on the drive from Narita airport to downtown, as cars cross the Tokyo Bay-spanning Rainbow Bridge.
The Gundam series itself remains a spectacular commentary on modern warfare, originating from a country that has seen the horrors of dramatic shifts in war technology first hand. The show’s criticisms of warfare seem even more true to life as the Gundam Robot takes its place along the real Tokyo skyline.
Update: The original RX-78 Gundam was taken town in March 2017 and replaced in October 2017 with a life-size Unicorn Gundam from the recent series.
Know Before You Go
Check the website for a schedule of showtimes during the day.