Godzilla stomps its way to tourism ambassador for Tokyo ward
Godzilla has stomped so many buildings in Japan that the irradiated monster has been appointed special resident and tourism ambassador for Tokyo's Shinjuku ward.
In honour, a Godzilla-size head towering 52 metres (171ft) above ground level was unveiled at an office of Toho, the studio behind the original 1954 film.
Toho is shooting a comeback movie this year after a decade-long hiatus.
Godzilla's standing has had its ups and downs but its stature has been reinstated after a Hollywood version, released last year, was a global hit.
At an awards ceremony next to the giant Godzilla head, an actor in a rubber suit waddled over to the Shinjuku mayor.
But a Toho executive accepted the residency certificate in Godzilla's place as the suit's claws are not designed to grab anything.
The longtime belief is that any place Godzilla destructs in the movies is sure to prosper in real life, Shinjuku mayor Kenichi Yoshizumi said.
"Godzilla is a character that is the pride of Japan," he said.
Hiroshi Ohnishi, chief executive of the Isetan-Mitsukoshi department store chain, who heads the area's tourism promotion, kept referring to Godzilla with the very polite honorific "sama" - used at the end of a name - underlining respect for the creature as a business-drawing landmark for the region.
The fire-breathing "gojira" - as it is pronounced in Japanese, combining "gorilla" and "kujira", or "whale" - was born a genetic aberration, caused by nuclear testing in the Pacific Ocean.
The reptilian mutation also symbolised a national trauma over the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of the Second World War.
The first Godzilla, directed by Ishiro Honda, with both an unforgettable score and bestial screech, is revered as a classic.
But in 2004, Toho announced it had made its last Godzilla, the 28th in the series.
Toho's reboot is set for release next year, ahead of Gareth Edwards's sequel for Legendary Pictures and Warner Brothers, planned for 2018.
Over the years, Godzilla has demolished Tokyo Tower, Rainbow Bridge, the Parliament building and several castles in Japan, as well as Golden Gate Bridge and other chunks of San Francisco in the Hollywood version.
Shinjuku, known for its down-home bars and noodle restaurants, has not been spared, flattened in three Toho movies. If Godzilla chooses to return, it can now stomp on its own giant head. But Toho executive Minami Ichikawa told reporters that where it will show up was still undecided.