September 13, 2012, saw Akira Takarada return to Nakatsugawa, Gifu, to introduce his 1957 film The Green Mountains (produced by Toho Studios) to a packed house at the Nakatsugawa Bunka Kaikan. Co-starring Akira Kubo, Takashi Shimura, Yoshifumi Tajima, Sachio Sakai, and other familiar faces from Toho, it was filmed in Nakatsugawa by director Shue Matsubayashi (The Last War, 1961).
First, a confession. I didn't think very many people would show up. In retrospect, I'm not sure why. I guess I must have figured that, since it was basically just a screening of an old movie in the middle of the week, not many people would show up. Suffice it to say, I was shocked when I saw the line waiting to get inside stretch on for what seemed like miles. Just how many people came? You can see for yourself.
Just before the film screened, Mr. Takarada took the stage to share his memories of the film. Although it was made 55 years ago, Mr. Takarada regaled the audience with his stories. At the end of his presentation, Mr. Takarada was joined by a chorus who participated in the singing of the film's theme song.
The highlight of the event happened at the after-party in a restaurant called Annie Hall. At one point, Mr. Takarada asked me to stand up. He then introduced me to the crowd, talked about G-FEST, etc. It was quite overwhelming to be talked up in such a way by one of my childhood idols. Mr. Takarada also asked me to address the audience (in Japanese, no less!), which I did my best to do.
All in all, it was quite an evening.
Video of Mr. Takarada singing with the chorus can be watched below: