Sangenjaya Gorilla in Tokyo

Creativity can be found everywhere in Japan, as the country is home to countless unusual buildings. But Sangenjaya Gorilla, a 3-storey-tall building with a giant ape statue hanging from its roof, is a head-turner that will make any unsuspecting passer-by do a double take. 

Giant gorilla chilling on a building 

Sangenjaya Gorilla - building exterior and street
Image credit: @chud_stuff

Built in 1979, the King Kong-like figure is perched atop a pink commercial building which houses a gym and a brightly lit FamilyMart. From afar, the giant creature is seemingly overlooking the bustling district, leaning towards the edge of the building, with its right arm dangling freely.

Sangenjaya Gorilla - close up of buildingImage credit: @itou1562

Move up close and you’ll realise that the figure is actually staring intensely at his arm with an earnest expression. 

Sangenjaya Gorilla - building exteriorImage credit: @itou1562

In its palm, a young girl donning a green dress sits, appearing to have fallen and been caught by the ape. Thanks to the prominent fixture, the building has earned itself an apt moniker of “Gorilla Building”, or ゴリラビル (gorira biru) in Japanese.   

Origins of the building remain unknown

Sangenjaya Gorilla - taishido shopping arcadeTaishido Shopping Arcade, where the building is located at.
Image credit: @keropin66

Though the building has been around for over 40 years, no one is exactly sure why it was built in the first place. An interview done by Sankei states that it was constructed to serve as an attraction for Taishido Shopping Arcade, a bustling residential shopping district just 5 minutes by train from Shibuya Station. 

Other sources suggest that the statue was erected in response to the popularity of King Kong during the Shōwa Period, when movies such as King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), which featured the 2 monsters battling it out, were all the rage. 

Whatever the case, we’re glad that Sangenjaya Gorilla continues to stand proudly today as a recognisable landmark for both residents and visitors alike. 

How to get to Sangenjaya Gorilla 

Sangenjaya Gorilla - building exterior and street
Image credit: @vv.ting.vv

Sangenjaya Gorilla is just a 6-minute walk from Sangenjaya Station, which can be accessed via the Tōkyū Setagaya Line or Den-en-toshi Line. As the building is located along the road, do look out for passing cars and pedestrians if you’re planning to take photos.    

Address: 3-15-2 Gorilla Building, Taishido, Setagaya City, 154-0004 Tokyo

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Cover image adapted from: @chud_stuff

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