Gundam, the iconic, giant humanoid robots that exploded in popularity in the world of anime have now stepped from the screen into reality. It might seem like a dream for many anime fans, but it’s true: construction has finished on a 59ft (18m) tall, actual-size, moving Gundam robot in Yokohama, Japan. After an initial delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the gigantic robot’s site will be officially opening to visitors on December 19. Gundam and robotics fans from around the world, as well as any people dreaming of visiting Japan and waiting for their opportunity will have to keep a close eye on their calendars and the state of the coronavirus and international travel, because once the project comes to a close on March 31, 2022, this once-in-a-lifetime chance to see a real giant robot could be forever lost.
The Gundam phenomenon began with a single anime called Mobile Suit Gundam which aired in 1979, and has since expanded into a media franchise that has since become one of the highest-grossing of all time, spanning an uncountable number of TV series, movies, novels, video games, and model figurines. That Gundam series had far-reaching effects on the whole of anime as well: it gave rise to the entire “mecha” sub-genre, in which human pilots ride inside of gigantic robots (or mechs) and engage in combat against enemy mechs or otherworldly forces. Now, the humanoid silhouette of a Gundam robot is recognizable throughout the world, even to those who barely know the world of anime.
As part of the Mobile Suit Gundam 40th Anniversary Project, Evolving G Co. Ltd. has partnered with Yokohama City to open the GUNDAM FACTORY YOKOHAMA facility. The facility features two areas: the “GUNDAM DOCK” which houses the moving Gundam, and the “GUNDAM LAB” with exhibitions and facilities where you can learn more about the project and franchise. The GUNDAM DOCK is also equipped with a special viewing deck called the “GUNDAM DOCK TOWER” from which visitors can get a close-up view of the Gundam robot’s head and chest from 50-60ft above the ground.
You may be wondering: Why build a giant robot like this in Yokohama? Yokohama is the second largest city in Japan, and is located only 30 minutes from the center of Tokyo by train. From a historical perspective, Yokohama’s port opened to the world in 1859, making Yokohama the first point of contact in Japan for new ideas, cultures, and technologies from international countries. Yokohama was henceforth the birthplace of many modern infrastructures and technologies in Japan, including railroads, modern water systems, telecom, and brewing, and the city continues to evolve as a unique and diverse place where tradition and innovation—past and future—are connected.
Apart from the new gigantic mech currently enhancing the city skyline, while visiting Yokohama you can also stop by Sankeien Garden, where you can enjoy a serene atmosphere of historic Japanese temples and beautiful, natural vistas; the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouses, picturesque symbols of the city’s sightseeing filled with fun shopping opportunities; Yokohama’s China Town, the largest and most famous in all of Japan, full of delicious restaurants; and Minato Mirai 21, Yokohama’s innovation-driven waterfront district, where living, working, and playing are seamlessly interconnected. These features and many more are beloved by the residents of Yokohama, as well as visitors from all over the world.
We sincerely hope that, safety permitting, many people will be able to come to Yokohama, Japan so that they can enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a life-sized Gundam, an actual giant robot on the shores of Japan, which stands as testament to Japanese culture and robotics technology.