1. A three-storey commercial building with a large gorilla statue on top
    Photo: Keisuke TanigawaChazawa-dori, Sangenjaya
  2. Godzilla Head
    Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa
  3. Maman, spider, Roppongi Hills
    Photo: Cowardlion/DreamstimeMaman at Roppongi Hills

The 10 monsters you'll meet in Tokyo

Shinjuku has Godzilla and Odaiba’s got a Gundam, but that’s not all – Tokyo’s full of giant statues you can see for free

Youka Nagase
Written by
Youka Nagase
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Japan is home to some of the most amazing monuments that bring iconic characters like Gundam and Godzilla to life. But in Tokyo, there’s no need to visit an amusement park to see something so OTT. The city is crawling with giant, monstrous figures in parks, shopping malls and out on the streets.

There’s a larger-than-life gorilla statue hanging off the side of a building, a terrifying nine metre-tall spider, three gigantic puppies on a balcony and more. The movies are right – Tokyo really is a city of monsters.

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Godzilla and friends

Godzilla
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

Godzilla

Where: 1-18-8 Kabukicho, Shinjuku

Japan’s most famous monster is perched on the rooftop of the Toho Cinemas building, overlooking the bustling streets of Kabukicho. Once every hour between 12pm and 8pm, you’ll hear Godzilla’s theme music play as the monster roars and smoke comes out of its mouth. The only way to see the big lizard up close is to visit Cafe Terrace Bonjour located on the eighth floor of Hotel Gracery Shinjuku (note that due to Covid-19 restrictions, Godzilla isn't putting on its usual show and the café is currently closed).

Gorilla
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

Gorilla

Where: 3-15-2 Taishido, Setagaya

Only a five-minute walk from Sangenjaya station is a three-storey building with a giant gorilla on top, reaching its hand halfway down to the ground, with a little girl sitting on its palm. The top two floors are occupied by a storage company and a boxing gym, while the ground level is a FamilyMart. None of the businesses are sure how this gorilla came to be here, but it’s rumored that the building’s original tenant was given the massive statue from a movie set 30 or so years ago.

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Tengu
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

Tengu

Where: Takao Station, Takaomachi, Hachioji

If you decide to go to Mt Takao for a hike, make sure to pay a visit to the 1.2m tengu (goblin) statue between platforms three and four at Takao Station. It’s made entirely out of stone and weighs a whopping 18 tonnes. In Japanese folklore, tengu are often classified as dangerous supernatural creatures, but here, they’re considered protectors of the mountain.

'Maman'
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

'Maman'

Where: Roppongi Hills, 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato

Despite its terrifying appearance, this gigantic spider statue is a popular meeting place in swanky Roppongi. The bronze sculpture, named ‘Maman’, was created by French-American artist Louise Bourgeois in 1999, and was originally displayed at the Tate Modern in London. Now it lives outside Roppongi Hills and there are five other versions of it around the world in the US, Canada, Spain, Korea and Qatar.

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Oni Slide
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Oni Slide

Where: Nishikidanini Park, 1-5-13 Nishikicho, Tachikawa

Just a few minutes away from Tachikawa station is Nishikidaini Park, also known as Oni Park for its bright red children’s slide that looks like an oni – a Japanese demon or ogre.

Tyre Monsters
Photo: 30096/Photo AC

Tyre Monsters

Where: Nishi-Rokugo Park, 1-6-1 Nishirokuga, Ota

Nishi-Rokugo Park has a large collection of car tyres scattered around the park, plus several dinosaur-size figures made from stacks of tyres – some going as high as 20 metres. You can come to marvel at them and snap photos with the tyre monsters, but just remember: climbing them is not allowed.

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Nurikabe
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Nurikabe

Where: Kitaro Park, 1-58-5 Shimoishiwara, Chofu

This park features numerous statues of characters from the famous Japanese manga series ‘Gegege no Kitaro’, which centres on spirits, monsters and creatures from Japanese folklore. Some of them are sitting on benches, while others have become play equipment including Nurikabe, a rectangular wall-shaped yokai (spirit). Usually an invisible wall that blocks travellers from moving forward, here the sleepy Nurikabe has turned into a children’s climbing wall. 

Giant Puppies
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

Giant Puppies

Where: Ritsushisha Wan Wan Park, 1-11 Kinshi, Sumida

Not all monsters are terrifying. These three large puppies – a dachshund, a dalmatian and a shiba inu – looking out over the street from a balcony seem like they just can’t wait to play with you. This building is part of Ritsushisha Wan Wan Park, an animal education school where students learn to take care, groom and train dogs.

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Unicorn Gundam
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

Unicorn Gundam

Where: DiverCity Odaiba, 1-1-10 Aomi, Koto

A life-size 19.7m-tall Unicorn Gundam statue stands in front of DiverCity shopping mall in Odaiba. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see it light up to transform, which happens at 11am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm every day. And at 7pm, you’ll also get to see a short movie from the Gundam Build Divers series.

Jumbo Chef
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

Jumbo Chef

Where: Niimi Cooker, 1-1-1 Matsugaya, Taito

When you visit Asakusa’s famous Kitchen Street, you can’t miss the jumbo chef’s head at the end of Kappabashi-dori. It’s on top of Niimi, a long-standing kitchenware store, where you can get anything from pots and pans to fancy glassware and plates for kids shaped like a shinkansen.

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