It wasn’t until a few months ago that Japan fully reopened to international tourism, so if you’re an overseas fan of Japanese pop culture, you might be planning a trip over summer vacation to come visit all the cool new places that have opened since the start of the pandemic, like Aichi’s Ghibli Park and Osaka’s Super Nintendo World. Unfortunately, unless your itinerary has you departing very soon, you’re probably thinking you’ve missed your chance to see the amazing life-size 18-meter-tall moving Gundam statue in Yokohama, since it was scheduled to be taken down at the end of next month.
But in a happy development, anyone who appreciates anime, mecha, or awesomeness in general, and who’s planning to come to Japan sometime in the next year, should set aside a day for Gundam, because it’s just been announced that the statue will be staying up past March, after all.
According to a notice posted to the official website for Gundam Factory Yokohama, the facility where the moving Gundam stands, the statue and facility will now remain in operation until March 31, 2024, a full-year extension from the previously scheduled closing date. In a welcome twist on the pattern of things that disappeared because of the coronavirus, Gundam Factory’s management and the city of Yokohama decided to extend operations specifically because fewer Gundam fans, overseas ones in particular, have been able to travel to the site to see the giant robot during the pandemic. While restrictions and precautions have been eased, tourism still hasn’t rebounded to pre-pandemic numbers, but it’s hoped that the extension will allow Gundam Factory Yokohama’s operations to overlap with back-to-the-old-normal travel conditions.
Gundam Factory Yokohama’s location in Yokohama’s bayside Yamashita Park makes it an easy excursion if you’re staying in Tokyo, with the closest station less than 40 minutes by train from Shibuya Station with no transfer needed. And it’s not only anime fans and tourists who’ll benefit from the extra opportunities to see the moving Gundam, but local schoolkids too, since Gundam Factory Yokohama hosts what are arguably the coolest field trips ever.
Source: japan today