Monday, August 31, 2015
Ever since I've moved to Tokyo, I've started blogging a lot more. Of course, it makes sense. During my first three years in Japan, when I would get home to Nakatsugawa, Gifu, from visiting Tokyo, I would usually be exhausted. I often took the night bus to and from Tokyo, so blogging was about the last thing I wanted to do when I got home.
But now that I'm in Tokyo, blogging is much more convenient for me, and I'm enjoying it more. As a matter of fact, according to this blog's archives, in the entire year of 2013, I only made 26 blog posts. However, for the month of August this year, I have written 29 posts (including this one).
So I have blogged more this month than I did for the entire year two years ago. I must say, that's pretty incredible.
As usual, keep it here for more updates on the coolest kaiju events happening anywhere in the world!
One of the most recognizable locations in the entire Godzilla series is the lake at the beginning of Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973). The Seatopians drain the lake in order to allow Megalon to rise to the surface and exact revenge on Japan.
In the film itself, the body of water is given the fictitious name Lake Kiriyama. In reality, the filming location was Lake Motosu (a.k.a. Motosuko), one of the Fuji Five Lakes. Situated in Yamanashi Prefecture, it stands in the shadow of Mt. Fuji, although Fuji-san is never visible in Godzilla vs. Megalon.
As you can plainly tell by the photos, I went on a cloudy day, making a clear view of the lake (and especially Mt. Fuji in the distance) rather difficult at times. Even though it sprinkled on occasion, it never rained, so I guess I should be thankful for that.
Lake Motosu is rather inaccessible by rail, so travelers who wish to visit the lake should take a highway bus from Shinjuku Station. The trip is about two and a half hours one way, so it will take a large chunk of your day to see it. It's a beautiful lake, and the filming location is iconic (in my opinion, of course), but your mileage may vary.
For just under 1,000 yen, visitors can take a boat ride out over the lake, which gives you a great view of Mt. Fuji. Thankfully, while out on the boat, the clouds parted just enough to get a glimpse of the mountain. Other than that, the sky was completely opaque when I was there.
I am happy to report that there were no signs of Seatopians, and at no time did the water levels go down. I suppose Lake Motosu will be a safe haven for Godzilla fans interested in checking out locations from the coolest Godzilla films.
Until September 27, Shinjuku Chuo Park will host an incredible sand sculpture of Godzilla (more than three meters tall) and his famous foes. It's all part of the Shinjuku Creators Festa 2015, and if you have a chance to see it, be sure to do so while it lasts!
Appropriately enough, the sculpture stands in the shadow of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (a.k.a. the Tax Towers) in Shinjuku, which was destroyed in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991). In fact, the Tax Towers themselves are a part of the sculpture!
Although the sculpture has been in the works for a few weeks now, it still hasn't seemed to attract the attention of Godzilla fans, even in Japan. That seems to be changing just a little, and various news outlets have started to pick up the story. Still, there's less than a month to check it out for yourself, and the clock is ticking!
It's been cloudy all week, and while that has given us Tokyoites a much-needed respite from all the heat, it makes for much less interesting photography. That said, I still think the pictures came out quite well.
While I knew that Godzilla would be the main attraction, I was surprised to see so many other kaiju as part of the sculpture. Seeing the likes of Gigan and Hedorah make the cut was rather pleasing. Oh, and lest we forget...
I can see why he's all smiles! Shinjuku Chuo Park is the place to go for Godzilla this summer!
Today was a busy day, and since I spent some time in Shinjuku, I decided to photograph some familiar skyscrapers to fans of the Heisei Godzilla series. The first was the Shinjuku Sumitomo Building, on which Godzilla fell after being temporarily defeated by the Super X in Godzilla 1985 (1984).
Nearby is the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (or the Tax Towers), which was featured prominently during the climactic battle of Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991).
There isn't much else to say, as I've photographed and blogged about these buildings in the past. But I wanted to take this opportunity to share my most recent photos.
Another big update is coming soon, so watch this space.
Sunday, August 30, 2015
A painful reminder came today via Facebook that today (August 30) would have been actress Anna Nakagawa's 50th birthday. Nakagawa-san starred as Emmy Kano in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991), one of the most popular entries in the Heisei Godzilla series.
I had the privilege of interviewing Nakagawa-san in early 2012 and had a chance meeting with her about a year later. We stayed in touch via Facebook and e-mail after the interview, and it was always heartening to get a "like" from her on my Facebook photos or statuses.
Sadly, Nakagawa-san suddenly passed away last year, and it is absolutely heartbreaking that she never lived to see her own 50th birthday. I'll always be grateful for the kindness she showed me.
Rest in peace, Nakagawa-san.
Tonight I was part of an incredibly special dinner at Asian Taipei, the restaurant owned by actress Yuriko Hishimi (Ultra Seven, Godzilla vs. Gigan) in Chofu, Tokyo. Hishimi-san organized the dinner for those who helped in the search to locate Linda Hardisty. As I wrote about on this blog, Hishimi-san was very interested to reunite with her former Ultra Seven colleague. Unfortunately, Ms. Hardisty passed away almost three decades ago of natural causes.
Although we met under sad circumstances, many laughs were had throughout the evening, which lasted nearly four hours. Hishimi-san was very friendly and open with her thoughts and memories, and while she regaled us with stories and answered her questions, we dined on her restaurant's trademark Indian food.
It's been a long time since I last met Hishimi-san, so it was very enjoyable to catch up with her again. She thanked me for my role in finding out what became of the former Ultra Seven guest star, but it was truly a group effort. The fans in Japan did their part, and I had an assist from Mike Barnum and Jacob Dow. We all pulled together and accomplished something significant.
We hope to continue to celebrate the life of Linda Hardisty. Many thanks to Hishimi-san for graciously hosting this private event.
It's not everyone that you get a chance to meet an SFX staff member who worked on the original Godzilla (1954). Suffice it to say, when such an opportunity arises, any self-respecting Godzilla fan ought to take it. Thus, when my schedule allowed for me to attend this event in Sagamihara, Kanagawa, on Saturday, August 29 (I usually work on Saturdays), I jumped at the chance.
The guest of honor for the event was Sadao Iizuka, who worked for many years at Toho in optical photography under the supervision of Eiji Tsuburaya. Starting with Godzilla (1954), Iizuka-san worked on numerous SFX films at Toho throughout the golden age. His biggest claims to fame are animating King Ghidorah's gravity ray and Ultraman's trademark Specium Ray. Given that he was born in 1934, he's not quite as old as one might have assumed, but as one of the last surviving links to the SFX side of the original Godzilla, I was naturally excited to meet him.
The event was limited to a small number of people, and one of the attendees was illustrator Yuji Kaida. Iizuka-san has held other talks at the cafe over the last several months, chronicling his SFX work at Toho in the order the films were made. This time, the event focused on Madame White Snake (1956) and Rodan (1956). During the talk, several of Iizuka-san illustration were displayed on a flat-screen TV, detailing how the SFX staff at Toho created several effects on both films. A picture is most certainly worth a thousand words!
After the Q&A, it was dinnertime with Iizuka-san, and he happily answered questions from the fans who gathered to see him. I'm very happy to have met Den-san (his nickname), and I hope to have many other opportunities in the near future.