If you need me to explain this picture, why are you reading this blog? The sign says it all!
The August 4 tour of Toho Studios, which was organized and arranged by Akira Takarada, will go down as one of the greatest events in kaiju fandom history. If you weren't there -- well, there's no other way to put this -- you truly missed out. Plain and simple.
Walking alongside the likes of Mr. Takarada, Haruo Nakajima, and Yosuke Natsuki in the studio that made them famous ... words can't describe what an honor it truly was. It was the first (and almost certainly) the last time such an event will take place.
Lots of other G-fans have had their pictures taken at the Godzilla statue located at Toho's front gate, but how many of them have actually passed through the gate?
While the tour of Toho Studios is something I'll never forget, I prefer to let the pictures do the talking. I took so many photos and shot so much video that I hardly need to explain any of it. But I'll fill in the blanks where necessary. On to the good stuff!
Can you spot me in this photo? I'm in the Seven Samurai mural somewhere!
Shortly after the group arrived, Mr. Takarada came out with the special guests he arranged for us to meet. And what a lineup it was!
Yoshimitsu Banno, Bin Furuya, Akira Takarada, Yosuke Natsuki, and Haruo Nakajima greet their fans. Koichi Kawakita joined the festivities a bit later.
Once the celebrity guests made their appearance, obligatory photos were taken by the tour members. Mr. Takarada, through his able translator totorom, told us what to expect on the tour. With the introduction finished, it was time to go inside!
The group enters Toho Studios.
Our first stop was to Toho's Post-Production Center 1 for a special screening of a 20- or 30-minute edit of Godzilla: Final Wars. The film boasts a great supporting part played by Mr. Takarada, which made the showing of the film all the more special.
Sitting next to Yosuke Natsuki for the screening of Godzilla: Final Wars.
Although Mr. Takarada joked that the film was just a little too loud, the screening was well-received by the attendees. From there, Mr. Takarada led us to Studios 8 and 9.
Ground zero for kaiju history: Toho's drama scenes were filmed in Studio 8, and its SFX scenes were filmed in Studio 9.
Where it all happened: Standing inside Studio 8.
The original Ultraman (Bin Furuya) and I bring a bit of Tsuburaya Pro magic to Toho Studios.
Elsewhere on this blog you can find the video I took inside Studio 8. The link is here. I encourage you to view it. As I've said countless times, a picture's worth a thousand words!
Inside Toho's Actors Center: The stars assemble for a Q&A.
The next stop on our tour was Toho's Actors Center, in which Mr. Takarada, Haruo Nakajima, Bin Furuya, Yosuke Natsuki, Yoshimitsu Banno, and Koichi Kawakita answered questions posed by their fans. The event has been recorded for posterity by several fans in attendance, including yours truly. You can watch the Q&A here.
The holy grail: Akira Takarada unveils the original Oxygen Destroyer to an audience in total awe.
Following the Q&A, Mr. Takarada surprised the entire tour by bringing out the Oxygen Destroyer (as seen in Godzilla '54). Although I had a feeling we'd be seeing the most famous prop in the series' history, I had no idea what was in store until the moment it was unveiled. Thankfully, the moment was recorded on video and can be viewed in Part 7 of the Toho Q&A!
Holding the Oxygen Destroyer next to Koichi Kawakita, with Serizawa's diving helmet from Godzilla (1954) on the table nearby.
With the surprise addition of the Oxygen Destroyer to the proceedings, the tour of Toho wrapped up. I must thank Mr. Takarada for making it all happen. Big shout-outs go to J.D. Lees and Yoshi Mukai of MYK for making G-TOUR II a big success. As always, totorom worked diligently in his capacity as translator.
I hope this blog post was able to convey a fraction of the excitement we all felt. It was an afternoon I'll never forget. I'll always be grateful I got to see Kaiju Heaven!