Last night my friend Yasushi and I had the good fortune to attend a rakugo show with Shinpei Hayashiya. While many of us know Hayashiya-san as the director of Gamera 4: The Truth, Reigo the Deep-Sea Monster vs. the Battleship Yamato, and The Deep-Sea Monster Raiga (as well as playing a bespectacled newspaper photographer in Godzilla 1985), he is well known in Japan for his raucous rakugo performances.
Hayashiya-san uses his big (and I mean "big"!) voice to his advantage during his performances, so try not to jump out of your seat when he suddenly shouts (as several folks in the audience did!). After Hayashiya-san and other rakugo performers finished the show, a small group of us headed to a nearby izakaya for dinner and drinks.
Many topics were discussed, including G-FEST, at which Hayashiya-san will attend as one of many special guests from Japan. Coincidentally, Hayashiya-san and I will be taking the same flight to the U.S., which is an experience I am looking forward to!
My favorite story of the evening was the one Hayashiya-san told us about meeting Godzilla (1954) actress Momoko Kochi by chance roughly 20 years ago. She was exiting a building at a time when Hayashiya-san happened to be entering. He asked her for an autograph, and she asked him which movie(s) he enjoyed her performance in. When he answered Godzilla, her reaction was less than enthusiastic!
See you in Chicago, Hayashiya-san!