Wednesday, October 1, 2014

MY DAY WITH SHIGEO KATO! Hanging Out with a Prolific Toho Player!

Actor Shigeo Kato signs my DVD sleeve of Conflagration (1975), in which Kato-san appears in a small supporting role. Photo by Brett Homenick.

As I was leaving Super Festival on Sunday, I called retired Toho actor Shigeo Kato at his home. I blogged about Kato-san in a previous post, but suffice it to say that he appeared in just about all the major Toho films of the golden age -- everything from Seven Samurai (1954) to Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000).

Kato-san and I made an appointment to meet in Kamakura and then have coffee at a nearby cafe. He happily regaled me with stories of his old days, and it is at moments like this I wished my horrendous Japanese skills were a thousand times better than they are. Still, I managed to follow along as best I could, and I was nevertheless enthralled by what I could pick up.

After a while, we left the cafe and went walking around. We spotted a local shop with a familiar face guarding its entrance! When I asked Kato-san to pose for a photo, he immediately struck Ultraman's famous Specium Ray pose. Kato-san appeared in several episodes of Ultraman and the subsequent series that followed.

Kato-san showed me around several beautiful places in Kamakura that I'd never seen before, despite having made several visits there. The day turned out to be much more memorable than I could have imagined. Walking around with Kato-san (who's a spry 89 years old!) and seeing many awe-inspiring sights was an experience for which I will always be grateful. It's exactly the sort of thing I came to Japan to do. Many thanks, Kato-san!

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