Taiwan is one of my favorite countries, and every time I visit, it’s such a pleasure—made even more so because I can meet a nearly life-size Godzilla there! If you travel to the Zhongzheng District (not far from the Zhongxiao Xinsheng Station, exit 1 on the MRT—and you should definitely take the MRT), it won’t take long to find the Hotel Gracery Taipei… and a gargantuan Godzilla mural plastered across the building’s west side. Godzilla fans will be aware of the Hotel Gracery Shinjuku and its elaborate Godzilla head and famous Godzilla room—many kaiju pilgrims travel out specifically to check out the statue and dine on Godzilla goodies at the restaurant within. Much less well known, however, is that Gracery—a line of luxury hotels centered in Japan—has a sister hotel out in Taipei, featuring its own art installations celebrating a certain famous Japan-born kaiju. The “life-size” kaiju image, depicting Millenium Godzilla and stretching across the 5th to 14th floors, was installed to celebrate the first year anniversary of the hotel in 2021—apparently in response to a questionnaire distributed to determine the best or most popular version of the king of the monsters for a Taiwanese audience. The sight of the big guy towering over the Taiwanese skyline is pretty impressive, and for fans, it’s worth a hop, skip, and a jump to catch a gander of the megabeast.
On a recent trip to Taipei (ostensibly to give an academic presentation at a local conference), I made a quick detour before flying out with an eye to check out the local giant monster. On the previous two days I had struggled to navigate on the local buses–they don’t have a real set time, they don’t necessarily stop for you if you’re waiting, they bounce you around even when you’re sitting down, and it’s hard to catch what the next stop is because it flashes up on the display just one time and never returns! Finally, I wised up and started taking the MRT (the Taiwan metro) at my friends’ insistence, and you can get right up close to Godzilla riding on the color-coordinated rails.
After scoping the big guy out from just outside the Gracery, I crossed the street to the nearby Huashan 1914 Creative Park, and posed with the Big G for some embarrassing selfies. I also went inside and up to the lobby (I felt so self-conscious), where I spotted a gorgeous print originally illustrated in 1999 by Noriyoshi Orai featuring Millenium Godzilla. It was hanging over a clutch of luggage that the tourist crowd had left behind, and a second mural depicting the outside mural could be found another wall on the other side of the room. According to sources online, the hotel also possesses a Millenium Godzilla statue constructed by none other than Shinichi Wakasa—though I did not spot the thing when I made my surreptitious visit. The statue seems to be installed within the hotel’s Ki-A-Bin-San Restaurant, which was closed at the time—in fact, you can see images of the model on the Ki-A-Bin-San webpage. When I was in the lobby, I tried to work up the guts to ask if I could see the model despite the restaurant being closed (I was figuring out how to say it in Chinese and Japanese both), but my usual timidity won over and I scuttled back outside without saying anything to the harried staff. I had briefly considered trying to grab lunch at Ki-A-Bin-San, but abandoned the idea given my abbreviated timeframe (and budget).
For the more adventurous Godzilla lover in Taiwan, you can also travel down to the southern reaches of the island and visit Witch Cat Kwai, a restaurant that serves a dish nicknamed “Godzilla Ramen.” The complicated stew of ingredients includes a frigging crocodile paw and costs north of fifty dollars a bowl, requiring over three hours’ prep time by the ambitious cook (maybe it takes a long time to kill that croc), and apparently only three servings of the potent stuff get sold each a day—and you have to book your radioactive soup months in advance! Given my brief window to visit, I didn’t have time for a hundred kilometer plus detour… but dang if I wouldn’t love to give it a shot next time I am in the country!
One last recommendation—if you want to feel like a kaiju yourself while visiting Taiwan, I highly recommend checking out the Miniatures Museum of Taiwan in the Xinyi District. The museum itself is tucked into the basement of this like… I don’t know, apartment complex or something. For the average joe, it costs 250 NT dollars (which is about eight bucks), but it is SO cool. Inside the fairy-tale-esque doors you can find hundreds of tiny rooms, buildings, and elaborate displays made with exquisite care and fantastic detail, often with charming humor. The dim, romantic lighting makes every display glow with wonder. You get houses, classic architecture, castles, dozens of individual and scintillating rooms—but also many images straight out of popular fantasy. Things like Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Snow White, Gulliver’s Travels… and even Dinotopia! I wanted to take pictures of everything, and even before I was halfway through my eyes were tired for gawping at the phantasmagoria of fun. I love museums, and this one… so good. You can see some pictures of it below.
Anyway, visit Taiwan, and enjoy the usual bits like the night market, the “real-life Spirited Away” area called Jiufen, Taipei 101, stinky tofu, pineapple cake, the really super cool Yehliu Geopark… but don’t forget to also say hello to Godzilla, and maybe chomp some kaiju noodle soup, and become a monster yourself in one of the coolest offbeat museums I have seen in years.