Heisei Boom

By Bryson Torgovitsky

In the late 1980s, the Japanese economy experienced a period of rapid growth known as the Heisei Boom. Japan’s economy soared to incredible heights, and their income per capita became the highest in the world in 1990. Exports were one of the major factors in this growth, especially of cars and electronics. Those who were adults living in Tokyo during the Heisei Boom attest that they did not see any panhandlers in the city, though this could be attributed to the rising prices of real estate in the city. According to Héctor García’s guide to Japan, Geek in Japan, “the price of 900-square-foot apartments in Tokyo rose to several million dollars at today’s value” (61). The increased prices coincided with the construction of new apartment buildings and skyscrapers, and this is likely because those new living spaces were marketed as the latest and greatest place to live.

What had interested me about the Heisei Boom section of Geek in Japan was the title given to Toho Studios’ Godzilla movies that were released at that time: the Heisei series. Godzilla saw his return to the silver screen after a nine year hiatus in what came to be known as Return of Godzilla after being titled simply Gojira, and the cityscapes of the film reflected the Heisei Boom’s impact on building construction because the building sets, which have been consistently accurate models of the cities depicted, dwarf Godzilla in Return while in the most recent of its predecessor films, Terror of Mechagodzilla, Godzilla was either of an equal or greater height than the buildings around him. Below are two photos, one of Godzilla facing a man-made flying machine in Return of Godzilla, and the other of Godzilla facing the monster Titanosaurus in Terror of Mechagodzilla. From these photos, the change in building size from pre-Heisei era to post-Heisei era Japan can be seen.

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