Thursday, April 30, 2015

DAIMAJIN STRIKES BACK! Spending an Evening with Actor Riki Hashimoto!

Actor Riki Hashimoto discusses his career at Daiei Studios and beyond. Photo by Brett Homenick.

After getting a private tour of Daiei Studios, our guide Kawahara-san arranged for an impromptu meeting with the legendary Riki Hashimoto. Hashimoto-san is a former professional baseball player who is best known in the West as the actor who played Daimajin in all three of the movies from Daiei Studios. Hashimoto-san went on to play the villainous demon Daimon in Spook Warfare (1968) and a sinister alien in Gamera vs. Viras (a.k.a. Destroy All Planets, 1968). Internationally, Hashimoto-san is best remembered for battling Bruce Lee in The Chinese Connection (1972).

Hashimoto-san was in very good spirits, despite some recent health setbacks. I was told ahead of time that a meeting like this is extremely rare, and that Hashimoto-san was making a special exception for me. Suffice it to say, I was truly honored to have an audience with Daimajin himself.

Early on in our meeting, Hashimoto-san asked the gathered crowd (Kawahara-san and my friends Tanaka-san and Ogawa-san) if they knew which famous international figure was the inspiration for Daimajin's distinguished chin. No one in our group had any idea, but if we're talking about an international figure with a notable chin, I reasoned it must be Kirk Douglas. Hashimoto-san was surprised by answer and confirmed that Daimajin's chin was indeed based on that of Kirk Douglas! He then proceeded to give me a round of applause, which naturally was pretty incredible.

I got several things signed by Hashimoto-san (including a gift for a friend). Since the meeting was scheduled on short notice, I didn't bring any Daimajin items with me, and we couldn't find any of the DeAgostini Daiamjin releases available at any local bookstore. I did find a copy of Spook Warfare, though, and got the items contained therein signed.

Before leaving, I shook Hashimoto-san's hand and called him a hero. He truly is. I can't thank Kawahara-san and Hashimoto-san enough for making this day possible!

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