As proud as we are of our own life-sized Unicorn Gundam in Odaiba, we can’t help but be in awe of its newly completed counterpart in the Port of Yokohama, which actually moves. The colossal 18-metre tall robot has been in the works since 2014 and is a wonder of modern engineering. The planning and research stage alone took two years as the designers worked out how to prevent the robot’s limbs from breaking under their own weight as well as engineering its 24 moveable parts.
The robot was due to have its grand opening this October, but the event had to be delayed due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. Nonetheless, the completion of the Gundam went ahead in an unexpectedly traditional manner. Before it was lifted to join the rest of the body, the head of the Gundam underwent a ritual known as jotoshiki (roof-laying ceremony) performed by Shinto priests. (Fast forward the above video to the 2:45 mark to see the completion of the robot.)
While the sight of a giant robot head being ceremoniously blessed by two priests in official garb might be perplexing, jotoshiki is a standard custom that is observed towards the end of construction for nearly all buildings in Japan. Typically, priests purify the building’s roof, but for the Gundam, the head is the next best thing.
Although fans of the Gundam series may be disappointed about the delayed opening, project officials have promised the site will be opened to the public this year. Aside from the moving Gundam, the Yokohama attraction will also come with shops, exhibitions and a Gundam cafe with themed food and drinks.
In the meantime, visit the Yokohoma Triennale happening right now.
Remember to check our guide on going out safely in Tokyo.
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