Seeing the life-size Gundam in Japan up-close and personal!

The Gundam Factory Yokohama is a unique and immersive attraction located in Yokohama, Japan that you just have to go to if you’re here. It was established to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Gundam franchise and provide fans like me with an up-close experience of the iconic RX-78-2 Gundam mobile suit - which is even more mindblowing in real life than you’d think! Since I live in Tokyo, it’s only a 40 minute drive to see this life-size Gundam, but if you’re taking the metro - there are direct lines linking Tokyo to Yokohama. For any Gundam fans or a traveller who wants a slice of Japanese surrealism come to life, then visiting the Gundam Factory in Yokohama is an absolute must-do. Curious? Follow me on Instagram and YouTube for more adventures! 

©Logan Ly

The main star of the Gundam Factory Yokohama is the life-size statue of the RX-78-2 Gundam - afterall, this is a true engineering marvel. This massive statue stands at an impressive 18 meters (approximately 59 feet) tall and is a faithful representation of the mobile suit from the original "Mobile Suit Gundam" series (literally no details were spared). The statue is incredibly detailed, with moving parts that allow it to perform limited mechanical actions, such as moving its head and opening/closing the cockpit - which is one of my favourite parts of the Gundam since it was also built true to size. You can see how on this open dock how everyone is amazed by the sheer scale and attention to detail of this life-size Gundam.

©flickr/ Dick Thomas Johnson

Depending on the time of your visit, there might be special events, performances, and even limited-time exhibits associated with the Gundam Factory Yokohama. These events often add to the overall experience and can include light shows, projections, and performances involving the Gundam statue. There are posters around with the time schedule that you can see the Gundam changing into different poses, from stand-by mode to battle mode. 

Since this exhibition is mostly outdoors (where you can walk up to the Gundam and take photos, see the show), make sure you time your visit for a blue sky day! I knew I wanted to experience this once in a lifetime exhibition with the skyline of Yokohama on a clear day, as when it rains or overcast, seeing the Gundam is still epic, but just wouldn’t be the same. If it does rain when you happen to go - have no fret, as it’s probably less crowded and you can still keep dry by seeing it from the covered building. 

©flickr/ Dick Thomas Johnson

So in addition to the Gundam statue, the Gundam Factory Yokohama offers various exhibits and interactive displays related to the Gundam franchise. You can roam around the “Academy” and learn about the history of Gundam, its impact on Japanese pop culture, and the creative process behind designing and building the mobile suits. The attraction provides a deep dive into the world of Gundam and offers fans a chance to appreciate the craftsmanship and artistry involved in bringing these iconic robots to life.

For the uninitiated, Gundam is a long-running and iconic Japanese media franchise that originated from the creative mind of Yoshiyuki Tomino. It was first introduced in 1979 with the release of the original "Mobile Suit Gundam" TV anime series, often referred to as "Mobile Suit Gundam 0079." The franchise quickly became a cultural phenomenon and played a significant role in shaping the "mecha" genre in anime. I grew up watching the Gundam Wings iteration - so no matter which series you got into, the spirit of Gundam is still the same.

©flickr/ Dick Thomas Johnson

The central theme of Gundam revolves around futuristic science fiction, giant robots known as "mobile suits," and conflicts between various factions and political entities. It’s mind-blowingly cool standing here at the Gundam dock staring up at one gigantic life-size mecha since there are also sound effects played throughout its transformation that comes directly from the anime itself. Whichever the anime series, the story is often set in the distant future, where humanity has expanded its presence beyond Earth, and colonies have been established in space. These space colonies often find themselves at odds with Earth governments, leading to conflicts and wars… Which honestly, as a kid I never realized how realistic that can be but now as an adult - I can see the far-off future having the same issues. 

Anyways, the original Mobile Suit Gundam series spawned numerous sequels, prequels, spin-offs, and alternate universes over the years, building a vast and dedicated fanbase worldwide. Some of the most popular Gundam series include "Mobile Suit Gundam Wing," "Mobile Suit Gundam SEED," "Mobile Suit Gundam 00," and "Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans."

©flickr/ Dick Thomas Johnson

The success of the Gundam franchise goes beyond anime and has extended to manga, novels, video games, plastic model kits (Gunpla), and various merchandise, making it one of the most influential and enduring franchises in Japanese pop culture history. So its no wonder that you can also get some of these merchandise at the Gundam Factory official shop - along with collectables special to the exhibition. 

If you’re on a budget, no fret, as your ticket to the Gundam exhibition gives you a surprise build-your-own-Gundam kit free at the door when you enter. 

For those who are hungry, you can have a bite at the Gundam cafe - where you guess it, Gundam-theme drinks and food unique to Yokohama are served. 

©flickr/ Dick Thomas Johnson

As for tickets to the exhibition, you can get them either online or in person. I was worried about getting them in person - as sometimes the queue is long or they might have sold out, but since tickets are section off by time slots (once you enter, you can remain as long as you want), buying them in person wasn’t an issue at all. However, you do have to decide if you want tickets to the exhibition which includes seeing the Gundam upclose, or an additional add-on where you can go on up to the Gundam tower-dock and see the Gundam’s head and body like….. Super up-close. Whichever one you decide on, it’ll be an incredible experience no less! 

©flickr/ Dick Thomas Johnson

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