It's a period of time in nearly every Japanese boy's life. Sometime before preschool starts and shortly after it ends, kids become enamoured with Ultraman. Some never outgrown their fascination with the towering superhero who flies to earth to kick monster butt.
I don't blame them. Ultraman is badass.
Right before my oldest son, who is now in grade school, entered pre-school, he wanted to meet Ultraman. Recently, my youngest son, who is about to enter pre-school, said he wanted to meet Ultraman.
Tsuburaya Productions, the studio responsible for Ultraman, has an Ultraman theme park as well as official Ultraman shops, such as Tsuburaya Jungle in Yao City, Osaka.
At the Osaka store, kids can ride an Ultraman train and get their photo taken with a variety of Ultraman heroes. Usually, three different Ultramen show up on Saturday and Sunday for free thirty-minute meet-and-greets. Kids can shake his hand and get their photos taken with them. In the above photo, you can see Ultraman Leo, who debuted during the early 1970s.
There is an assortment of different Ultraman, with new ones debuting each season. And saying which Ultraman you grew up with is a generation marker, reflecting the years during which you watched the show and movies.
Since Bandai has the Ultraman toy licence, it's one reason why the toy (and game maker) is able to dominate the childhoods of Japanese children.
Tsuburaya Jungle also features an array of goods for purchase. They are, to be blunt, overpriced. You can pick up Ultraman merchandise cheaper elsewhere; however, the shop does have unique items -- many of which are aimed at adults.
Check out the images below to see Ultraman beer mugs, neckties, underpants and more. There are also photos of an Ultraman display that isn't located in the shop per se, but rather, the shopping centre where the shop is housed.
Culture Smash is a regular dose of things topical, interesting and sometimes even awesome -- game related and beyond.