Shiotama – Tokyo, Japan - Atlas Obscura

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Steampunk, humanoid sculptures crawl on all fours in a Tokyo plaza. 


Visitors to the Nittele Tower, many of them looking for the famous Ghibli Clock, are likely to witness a bizarre scene straight out of a fever dream filled with metallic colors and polka dots. At the foot of the TV tower in NTV plaza, humanoid creatures crawl on all fours with their bottoms up, forming semi-disturbing queues reminiscent of the notorious cult film The Human Centipede.

The sculptures are named Shiotama, likely named after the Shiodome district where they are located and for their mizu-tama (polka-dot) patterns. The creatures debuted in 2003 when Nittele, or Nippon TV, relocated its headquarters from Kojimachi district to Shinbashi district. The humanoid sculptures were intended as a brand new mascot. The Shiotama’s strange postures evoke their crawling up the tower, not unlike the way David Černý’s Babies crawl up the TV tower in Prague, though the Shiotama ended up on the ground instead.

The mascots have not seen much limelight, except for a few special events during their debut year, and they are largely forgotten today. Nippon TV seems to be reluctant to let go of them, though, and the Shiotama are here to stay, creeping and crawling, for the amusement of visitors.

Know Before You Go

The Shiotama are also used as benches; feel free to sit on them.

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