Saturday, May 31, 2014

SUMMER APPROACHES TOKYO! The Weather Gets Warmer, But Things Remain Just as Busy!


A quick note to mention that I met former Toho player Toru Ibuki at his office again on Thursday, May 29. I was able to spend a couple of hours with him and discuss his career at Toho and his current pursuits. Ibuki-san is a wonderful and welcoming gentleman, and I appreciate every time I visit him.


On Saturday, May 31, I attended a small Godzilla event with SFX director Teruysohi Nakano. The event with Nakano-san was limited to 15 people, so I'm happy I made it. As always, he told many interesting and funny stories (especially about the many octopuses used in King Kong vs. Godzilla) and was a class act all the way.


Nakano-san is always very friendly, and his events are always worth attending. I got a couple of things sigfned (including a Godzilla 1985 poster) and was quite pleased with everything. Now it's off to bed!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

SHINJI CHUJO RULES! The Former Mothra Child Star Rocks Japan!

Musician Masami Tayama performs at the Marquee club in Nerima, Tokyo. Photo by Brett Homenick.

The Toho classic Mothra (1961) is a great film for any number of reasons. Its SFX, writing, and acting are all top-notch. While much is known about Frankie Sakai, Hiroshi Koizumi, Kyoko Kagawa, and even Jerry Ito, precious little information seems to be available about one of the film's supporting players, Masami Tayama.

Masami Tayama signs Mothra memorabilia for yours truly. 

Tayama-san memorably played Shinji Chujo, the pudgy, mouse-loving boy who tries to save the Shobijin from the clutches of the evil Nelson. Unlike other child actors, like Godzilla vs. Megalon's Hiroyuki Kawase, Tayama-san remains a public figure, though he has since entered a completely different line of entertainment.


Although he is now a professional singer, Tayama-san has fond memories of Mothra, especially his co-star Hiroshi Koizumi. After the concert at Marquee, I was invited to dinner with Tayama-san, who graciously signed several autographs and was happy to take photos. I enjoyed our meeting and hope to get another chance to see him again.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

TOHO'S NEW GODZILLA MURAL! The King of the Monsters Has a New Face at Japan's Greatest Studio!


Toho Studios underwent a recent makeover, adding Godzilla's likeness to another side of the studio. It's sure to become another hotbed of selfies and other photo ops, so if you're ever in Tokyo, get your cameras ready. I took some photos today of the new mural, and they are below. Enjoy!






SHOP MAJIN CONQUERS THE CHOFU TOURISM FESTIVAL! Kadokawa Daiei Studios Has Arrived!


The weekend of May 17-18 saw the Chofu Tourism Festival held just outside of Chofu Station. Among the various booths among the crowd was that of Shop Majin, the merchandise store owned by the nearby Kadokawa Daiei Studios. Gamera and Daimajin were well represented, and I snapped some photos of the booth. Here they are for your enjoyment!





Friday, May 16, 2014

ODDS AND ENDS: A Quick Update from Tokyo


Despite being a fairly routine day, there were some cool goings-on that I thought I'd share. First, I completed an English lesson with actor Kazuki Kato. Kato-san starred in Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit (2008), Kamen Rider: The Next (2007), and Kamen Rider Kabuto (2006-07), among many other titles. It was great to catch up with him again. He's a busy actor currently appearing in a popular stage play.


Even before my lesson with Kato-san, I headed to the Toho Cinemas in Shibuya to see the new Godzilla poster. While the movie is already playing in America (as well as many other parts of the world), we in Japan have to wait more than two months for the flick to come out! I just hope I can avoid the spoilers for that amount of time.


Yes, I had to take a photo with the poster. It's pretty much a required ritual for any kaiju fan worth his salt!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SAHARA-SAN! The Toho Icon Turns 82!

Kenji Sahara chats with fans at a Grissom Gang signing event in June 2012. Photo by Brett Homenick.

It's May 14 in Japan, and that means screen legend Kenji Sahara turns 82. Sahara-san is the star of such Toho classics as Rodan (1956), The Mysterians (1957), The H-Man (1958), King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), and Godzilla vs. the Thing (1964). Happy birthday, Sahara-san, with many more to come!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

LA SHION: Setagaya's Watering Hole for Ultraman!


Near Futako-Tamagawa Station in Setagaya, Tokyo, is a bar owned and operated by actor Shunichi Okita, best known to Western fans as Terrible Monster Attacking Crew (TAC) member Ichiro Yamanaka from Tsuburaya Productions' Ultraman Ace (1972-73). While that is Okita-san's primary tokusatsu credit, he is also known in Japan for being one of Nikkatsu Studios' 1964 New Face actors (as Tsuyoshi Yoshida), working with celebrated director Seijun Suzuki on Tokyo Drifter (1966) and later with Kihachi Okamoto on Battle of Okinawa (1971) at Toho Studios.


So, for those of you who are interested in Japanese entertainment, La Shion is most definitely a place to check out. It's very similar to the now-defunct Kaiju-ya in Shibuya, in that the bar is adorned with pictures, books, autographed shikishi boards, and assorted memorabilia from Okita-san's career. Karaoke is also part of the festivities, and yes, English-language songs are available.


That's me posing with Okita-san. While I wasn't the first foreigner who's ever visited his establishment, I was the first to seek it out specifically because of Okita-san. I was quite pleased to hear that. He's a welcoming and charming gentleman, and it was very cool to meet him. I'll most certainly be back!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

GOLDEN WEEK FUN: Seeing Good Friends During the Holidays


Just a quick blog update to mention that I had enjoyable Tuesday (4/29) hanging out with actress Shelley Sweeney (above) and actress-singer Izumi Yukimura (below). The day was a lot of fun, as were the photos!