Statues are like an everyday reminder of something or someone truly noteworthy. Tokyo has countless statues ranging from the historical, fun and the downright odd. Below are some must-see statues when you’re in Tokyo.
- 1. Godzilla (Shinjuku)
- 2. Hachiko (Shibuya)
- 3. King Kong (Sangenjaya)
- 4. Gundam (Odaiba)
- 5. Tengu (Mt. Takao)
- 6. Maman by Louise Bourgeois (Roppongi)
- 7. Tire Monsters (Zoshiki)
- 8. Jumbo Chef (Kappabashi)
- 9. 3D Billboard Cat (Shinjuku)
- 10. Statue of Liberty (Odaiba)
- 11. Kodomo no Ki by Taro Okamoto (Omotesando)
- 12. LOVE by Robert Indiana
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1. Godzilla (Shinjuku)
Godzilla, the infamous kaiju monster, is immortalized in various forms all across Japan. Perhaps the most famous Godzilla incarnation is the Godzilla head sitting atop the Shinjuku TOHO building in the world famous Kabukicho district of Shinjuku. Located on the aptly titled Godzilla Terrace of the Hotel Gracery, this head is the same height as the real Godzilla and includes glowing eyes and smoking nostrils. This 80-ton structure was built in 2015 and is based on the Godzilla that appears in the 1992 film “Godzilla vs. Mothra.”
2. Hachiko (Shibuya)
The story of Hachiko is known all over the world. The beloved dog of a university professor at the Tokyo Imperial University would welcome his master home at the end of every workday. In 1925, Hachiko’s owner tragically passed away at work. Hachiko continued to wait at Shibuya Station every day for the next 10 years. Hachiko became a familiar site in Shibuya and eventually became the national symbol for loyalty. In 1934, one year before Hachiko’s death, this statue was erected by Teru Ando. Unfortunately it was recycled for materials during World War II. However, in 1948, Teru’s son, Takeshi, created a new statue. After Hachiko passed away, he was buried next to his beloved owner and there is a ceremony at his statue every March 8th.
3. King Kong (Sangenjaya)
King Kong may be a national icon in America, but he can also be found hanging out in the Sangenjaya neighborhood of Setagaya. Officially this is not King Kong, but a giant gorilla perched atop a 3-story building and holding a schoolgirl in its hand. Dubbed the “Gorilla Building,” it is a 10-minute walk from Sangenjaya Station.
4. Gundam (Odaiba)
The life-size Gundam statue in Odaiba is a must-see for those visiting Tokyo. The current statue is known as Unicorn Gundam and is from the Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn series of the franchise. It replaced the previous statue, RX-78-2 Gundam, in 2017. The current Gundam stands about 65 feet tall and weighs 54 tons. It is located behind the incredibly popular AquaCity shopping complex in Odaiba.
5. Tengu (Mt. Takao)
Mt. Takao is about 1 hour west of Shinjuku by train, just past Hachioji. It is a popular destination for people who wish to take a break from the excitement of the city and enjoy some outdoor activities. There are different hiking paths and the surrounding neighborhoods are quite tranquil. Mt. Takao is also famous for tengu and has many statues dedicated to these Yokai legends of Japanese folklore. A tengu is a being composed of both a human and a bird. It has a long nose and is usually depicted with red skin. Tengu are sometimes referred to as a heavenly dog. Mt. Takao is home to the Yakuoin Yukiji Temple, where practitioners worship tengu. Praying to tengu is said to bring good fortune. The greater daitengu here is known as Naijubu.
6. Maman by Louise Bourgeois (Roppongi)
Constructed in 1999 and located just outside the Mori Tower and museum in Roppongi, Maman is one of the largest spiders in the world. Louise Bourgeois is the French-American artist who created this 30-foot high and 33-foot wide spider. Maman means “mother” in French, and this sculpture serves as a tribute to the artist’s own mother who died prematurely due to an unknown illness. If you look closely enough, you can see that Maman is, in fact, a mom. She has a sac that contains 32 marble eggs. Made from a combination of bronze, stainless steel and marble, Maman is one of many in The Unilever Series. The others reside in permanent locations in places such as: the UK, Canada, Spain, South Korea, the US and Qatar.
7. Tire Monsters (Zoshiki)
The Tire monsters, as they are fondly called, can be found in Nishi-Rokugo Park, just 10 minutes from Zoshiki Station. Here there are more than 3,000 recycled car tires scattered around the park, including a dinosaur figure made entirely out of tires. This dinosaur stands 26 feet tall and is 65 feet long.
8. Jumbo Chef (Kappabashi)
At the southern entrance of Kappabashi dori located between Ueno and Asakusa, Niimi is one of the largest stores in the district. Kappabashi is affectionately referred to as “Kitchen Town” due to its numerous stores offering shoppers an assortment of household items, predominantly kitchenware. Niimi has two locations: one offering western style utensils, and one that is more Japanese-minded. The Jumbo Chef is perched atop the 2nd floor of the Japanese store. It’s 11 meters tall and weighs 10 tons.
9. 3D Billboard Cat (Shinjuku)
This giant calico cat is a relatively new edition to Tokyo and is currently on display on a massive 1,600 foot screen near the east exit of JR Shinjuku Station. Unveiled on July 12th of 2021, this 4K ad by Cross Space operates every day from 7am until 1am. 190,000 people walk past the curved screen hosted by Cross Shinjuku Vision every day. The cat can be seen waking up in the morning and then appearing sporadically throughout the day between advertisements before retiring at night. Occasionally the cat likes to look at people and even swat at them from time to time.
10. Statue of Liberty (Odaiba)
This 40-foot Statue of Liberty can be found a short 7 minute walk from Tokyo Teleport Station. It is part of a trifecta, with the others located in Shimoda and Osaka. This Statue of Liberty was constructed to appear larger, which is why it is so close to the walkway. Weighing 9 tons, it is only 1/7th the size of its more famous counterpart in New York City. Originally, the US gifted the statue to France in order to celebrate the French Revolution. After the formation of the Japan-French friendship, it was temporarily on display in Odaiba from 1998 – 1999. It proved to be so popular that a permanent replica was erected in 2000.
11. Kodomo no Ki by Taro Okamoto (Omotesando)
Translated to the “Tree of Children,” this statue was constructed in 1985 by the famous Taro Okamoto. With its colorful branches, it appears playful like a child. It can be found in front of the National Children’s Castle in Shibuya. Okamoto’s colorful and profound work epitomizes his own quote – “Art is magic.”
12. LOVE by Robert Indiana
This recreation of Robert Indiana’s famous original piece lives in the Nishi-Shinjuku neighborhood of Tokyo at the entrance to the i-Land Tower. Originally, this symbol was designed for a Christmas card, later becoming an iconic stamp. It is so well-known that there are versions all over the world in many different languages. The LOVE statue in Shinjuku has become a popular meeting spot and it is said that if you pass through the “V” and the “E” without touching that you will be blessed with a wonderful romantic future.
Statues create an atmosphere and in a city as big as Tokyo, there are many different flavors to suit your palette.
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Trevor Jones is an educator and an aspiring marketer. Originally from the United States, he moved to Tokyo in 2017. Trevor enjoys exploring new destinations and sharing his experiences. He can be found on Instagram at @tjones312
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