The Monster Movie Fan’s Guide To Japan

December 16th, 2010By Category: Culture

Written by American Armand Vaquer, “The Monster Movie Fan’s Guide To Japan” is the world’s first and only Japan travel guide especially tailored to tourists who are also fans of Japanese science-fiction and fantasy movies.

Most of the locations covered in the book are primarily from Toho’s Godzilla series of movies, but other studios’ monster movies are also covered. Toho started the giant monster movie genre in 1954 with “Godzilla.” Locations used include the Wako Department Store in Ginza, Kachidoki Bridge on the Sumida River and the Diet building. These and other Tokyo locations are covered in the guide. Also included are Ultraman – related places of interest.

Vaquer was born in Los Angeles in 1954, the same year that Godzilla was “born” in Japan. Within a month after graduating from Long Beach State, he joined United Pacific/Reliance Insurance Companies as a claims adjuster. Currently, he works a day job as a field liability insurance claims examiner for Crittenden Claim Services.

In 1962, KHJ-TV Channel 9 in Los Angeles was showing “Godzilla, King of the Monsters!” (the Raymond Burr version) and that was when Vaquer first asked his mom what Godzilla was – becoming hooked by the time the movie reached the credits.

Later he saw “Rodan” and “Mothra” and those movies fed the addiction. Then, in 1963, “King Kong vs. Godzilla” hit the theaters in the U.S. and the image of Japan as a technologically advanced culture was sown.

After he lost his job, Vaquer wrote a series of “spotlight” articles on Japanese science-fiction and fantasy movie locations for G-FAN magazine (North America’s quarterly fan magazine on Japanese science-fiction). That’s when he got the idea to create a travel guide.

Vaquer took his spotlight pieces and rewriting them, added details on how to get to them, where to stay and what other attractions are nearby. He added to that with other location articles and after a three and a half months to write up, he had the basis for the book.

As he puts it himself;

“The way I see it, one should specialize in an aspect of a genre that others aren’t doing. Mine is on locations. I’ve been fascinated by movie and television locations as they provide a ‘snapshot’ of a place that likely changed over the years since a movie or television show was produced. A lot of them still look recognizable today and people do like to visit those places. People are fascinated by ‘then and now’ comparisons of movie locations, I have found.”

A lot of it was built from personal knowledge. After watching a movie, Vacquer took note of the locations used and then researching them online and through books on Japan, including other travel guides. Before writing the book, Vaquer also made five trips to Japan and did more research while there.

As the guide only discusses the locations used in the movies and since it is educational in content and no movie stills or any other Toho-generated stills were used, the book falls under the U.S. Fair Use laws which also helps keep the budget down.

Distribution is another question however and for that Vaquer is working with publisher ComiXpress. They are carrying it on their website, available here.

Mothra concept art courtesy of Toho Kingdom.  See GaijinPot’s Andrez Bergen’s guided of the Toho museum here.

Author of this article


GaijinPot is an online community for foreigners living in Japan, providing information on everything you need to know about enjoying life here, from finding a job and accommodation to having fun.

Related articles that may interest you


  • This is definitely something new and certainly helpful especially for movie buffs. Godzilla was recently shown on a cable channel and even after all this time, I still find myself glued to my seat until the whole movie is finished.