According to legend, Awaji was the first of the Japanese islands to be created. For centuries, it has been an integral part of Japanese history, culture, and tradition. To this day, visitors come from across the country and worldwide to behold Awaji’s beautiful sights and ancient festivals.
Then, on October 8th, 2020, another of Japan’s great icons found a home on the small island – the King of Monsters, Godzilla.
“Godzilla Interception Operation Awaji” is the newest attraction at Nijigen no Mori Park. Sitting at 55 meters (180 feet) long, 25 meters (82 feet) wide, and 23 meters (75 feet) high, the attraction is billed as the world’s first, permanent life-size figure of the famous movie monster.
Guests take on the role of researchers tasked with monitoring an inert Godzilla. While on-site, visitors can enjoy a small Godzilla film museum, taste specially themed foods, and marvel at the structure’s sheer size and ferocity. And at the heart of it all is a 162 meter (530 foot) zip-line through the statue’s mouth!
An attraction like this is sure to bring in fans of cinema’s most celebrated kaiju the world over. The following is my experience at Nijigen no Mori Park’s “Godzilla Interception Operation.”
Awaji Island isn’t difficult to get to, but it is a bit out of the way from Japan’s Kansai region’s more metropolitan areas. Starting from Osaka Station, take the Tokaido-Sanyo Line towards Amagasaki, Kobe, and Hyougo. Be sure to check the train’s schedule on the day of your visit to ensure you’ll be stopping at either Maiko Station or Akashi Station.
Depending on the type of train you manage to catch, the trip should take somewhere between 30 to 50 minutes.
For reference, I left Osaka Station at 9:15 A.M. and got into Akashi at around 9:50 A.M., with the one-way trip costing 940 JPY (about 9 USD).
I give you two choices because you need to decide how you want to get to Awaji Island.
- From Maiko Station: You can take a bus directly to Nijigen no Mori’s Awaji Highway Oasis entrance (Price: 420 JPY / 4 USD). This option takes you over Hyougo Prefecture’s iconic Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge.
- From Akashi Station: You can hop on a ferry at Akashi Port Terminal (530 JPY / 5 USD). The thirteen-minute journey takes you under the aforementioned Akashi-Kaikyou Bridge before landing at Awaji Port Terminal.
Please know that Awaji Island CANNOT be accessed on foot or by bike.
I chose to take the ferry since I thought it would make for a better story. As a result, I can tell you that the waters between the two ports can get choppy. Therefore, if you’re susceptible to seasickness, I highly suggest taking the bus option.
At Awaji Port Terminal, there are frequent buses that will take you directly to Nijigen no Mori. Alternatively, you can do what I did: See that it’s only a thirty-minute walk to the Awaji Highway Oasis entrance, and think, “Might as well get my steps in.”
It was a nice little hike, but to my chagrin, I didn’t realize it would be a steep, up-hill climb the entire way. After some huffing and puffing, I finally made it to the park.
Nijigen no Mori Park
Nijigen no Mori Park is worth its own Out and About post. Hell, considering everything that’s there, it’s worth several. That’s fine by me since I would love to return; there was so much I didn’t get to explore.
The park was gorgeous. On the day I went, the leaves were beginning to change colors; it was a breathtaking autumn day, the sun shone bright, and the temperature was perfectly comfortable. I was half tempted to continue wandering and lose myself in the beauty. In a sense, that was what I did since I had no idea where I was going.
Now, I assume there are several entrances into the park, and I just happened to use the Awaji Highway Oasis one. Be that as it may, I was astonished by what I DIDN’T see.
I went to Nijigen no Mori on October 24th, 2020. “Godzilla Interception Operation Awaji” opened to the public on October 8th, 2020. Despite the grand opening only being two weeks prior, I didn’t see a single advertisement for the attraction anywhere. I had assumed that any place hosting the world’s first life-size statue of Godzilla would want to make that fact known. Nevertheless, there wasn’t any indication of its existence on the park maps or signs.
Although a tad perturbed, I wasn’t too worried. After all, I was looking for freaking Godzilla; if it existed, I would notice.
Perhaps the park will have changed this by the time of your visit.
On the chance it doesn’t: From the Awaji Highway Oasis entrance, follow the signs leading you towards the “Naruto x Boruto” area, a.k.a., Awaji Island Anime Park.
The walk will take you up a moderately sloped hill. Once you reach the top and pass the Naruto area proper, you’ll look down at a valley of adventuring zones – many of which are based on the popular Crayon Shin-chan series.
Then you’ll see it. Sitting right across the way will be none other than the King of Monsters – Godzilla.
Godzilla Interception Operation Awaji
I can give you the statue’s dimensions all day long, but trust me, they don’t do it justice. The best I can do is merely confirm:
It was f@#$ing Godzilla.
To reach the attraction’s start, follow the pathway that runs parallel to the zip-line. Once at the top, you’ll find the museum, food court, and ticket counter.
Although there is no charge to enter Nijigen no Mori itself, there may be entrance fees for specific zones. “Godzilla Interception Operation Awaji” will run you 3,800 JPY (36 USD), which gets you access to the following:
- The Godzilla Theater
- The Zip Line
- The Shooting Gallery
- The Godzilla Film Museum
I went on a Saturday and got in line to buy a ticket around 11:30 (pre-ordering tickets is also possible).
If you do purchase the day of, be prepared to wait. “Godzilla Interception Operation Awaji” will take up most of your day.
During my visit, the park wasn’t crowded, and there weren’t that many people standing in line. However, due to the attraction’s necessary safety procedures, going from start to finish will take time. Accordingly, cheers to the staff for doing the best they could. Still, there were not enough of them, and it took a good hour before I could buy my ticket (only five people were in front of me).
On a more encouraging note: Once you do get your ticket, the pace picks up significantly, and it’s off to the first step of the operation.
The Godzilla Theater
The attraction began with a short ten-minute film describing the Godzilla Interception mission.
In summary, the National Awaji-Island Institute of Godzilla Disaster (NIGOD) managed to trick Godzilla into triggering an inactive state. Since then, it has been NIGOD’s responsibility to monitor the slumbering beast for any signs of movement.
The movie also explained why half of Godzilla’s body was buried in the ground; thus, making the claim of a “life-size” statue technically correct.
I was pleased to see that “Godzilla Interception Operation Awaji” was designed for ALL guests. In the film, the actors spoke in Japanese, but there were subtitles in English, Korean, and Chinese. Therefore, don’t let a language barrier stop you from checking this attraction out.
Once the movie finished, it was time to suit up for the main event.
The Zip Line
Before getting on the zip line, “Godzilla Interception Operation Awaji” handed us guests a waiver explaining the rules to ride the attraction. This form also confirmed that a rider met all the physical requirements to operate the line safely.
Once signed, my group was given our harnesses and helmets. The rig looked more daunting than it was, and if you have any trouble, the staff will be there to ensure everything is in the proper spot.
After a short spiel on how to hold onto the line’s trolley (there are English instructions), we could choose between one of two courses. At 152 meters (500 feet) long, the first course was the “inspection” of Godzilla’s body. At 162 meters (530 feet), the second took riders through the monster’s gaping, razor-tooth-lined maw.
On the day I was there, the shorter course’s wait time was only ten minutes, while the longer one was an hour. Although the shorter wait time was momentarily tempting, I hadn’t gone all that way to be boring; I was going through the mouth.
Up to this point, the zip line hadn’t scared me. Even as I was standing at the top, I was surprised by how calm I was. That said, the ground was pretty far away. Therefore, that little voice that screams, “What the hell are you doing,” wasn’t exactly quiet. However, with one step, it was done; the rest was just gravity.
The whole ride couldn’t have taken more than thirty-seconds, and I think that’s being generous. Regardless, it was exhilarating – as well as a little unnerving to watch all those sharp teeth get closer and closer. Still, I would do it again in a heartbeat; it was a blast.
While on the adrenaline high, it was off to the next segment.
The Shooting Gallery
I’m not going to lie; the shooting gallery didn’t leave much of an impression.
In the context of the attraction’s storyline, guests needed to hunt down any wandering, highly radioactive Godzilla cells.
In other words, this meant taking a light gun and shooting down as many targets as possible while occasionally needing to take cover to avoid “radiation blasts.” The goal was to see how high of a score you could get.
Full disclosure, my score was garbage. However, that wasn’t why I didn’t care for this section. It felt like a crude, last-minute addition. Coming right off the zip line, it simply wasn’t that memorable. But, since it was included in the price, I had no intention of skipping it.
After the shooting gallery, there was a platform for us guests to take our selfies with Godzilla, a rather nice touch if I do say so myself.
Next, it was back up to the top to return the gear and begin the attraction’s finale.
The Godzilla Film Museum
This part was cool.
Since I was a kid, I’ve been a fan of the Godzilla movies. Thus, an entire museum (albeit a small one) dedicated to the films instantly interested me.
The collection featured replicas of several movie props and dioramas depicting classic Godzilla scenes. There were also human-size figures of Godzilla, Mechagodzilla, and Mothra. Sadly, there were no big versions of King Ghidorah or Rodan, which was a little disappointing. As a consolation, though, there were miniatures, and they were undoubtedly neat.
Like the rest of the attraction, the museum was in both Japanese and English. Plus, we were allowed to take pictures and video of the displays.
It took me about thirty minutes to fully enjoy the museum. It may not have been extensive, but it was a nice cap off to the whole experience.
Lastly – because of course – the gift shop was well worth a look. And although I didn’t partake (I had spent the last of my money in the gift shop), there was a food court that offered up a small selection of Godzilla-theme meals and snacks.
So, after a good few hours, “Godzilla Interception Operation Awaji” came to an end.
This was fun; like, a lot of fun.
Just having a giant statue of the King of Monsters would have been worth the trip out to Awaji Island – aside from its scenic beauty. But considering all there was to do, for both fans and non-fans alike, it made for a phenomenal outing.
If you’re in the area, I highly suggest checking out “Godzilla Interception Operation Awaji” at Nijigen no Mori.
But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you been here? What was your experience with “Godzilla Interception Operation Awaji”? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.