Sunday, July 12, marked a special event in Ginza that honored Bin Furuya's 72nd birthday. The event attracted several notable faces from the entertainment industry, and it was great to watch them interact with Furuya-san.
Bin Furuya was the original Ultraman suit actor from the original 1966-67 series from Tsuburaya Productions, and he portrayed Amagi in the followup series Ultra Seven (1967-68). Prior to his work with Tsuburaya, he worked at Toho mostly as an extra in many kaiju and tokusatsu films, though he had a bigger role in Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster (1964).
The event began with an autograph signing, and fans were welcome to bring their items for Furuya-san to sign. On sale at the event were familiar bromide cards, but surprisingly larger 8x10s were being sold, as well. These glossies are very unusual to find in Japan.
Throughout the evening, Furuya-san came out in different clothes, first appearing in a traditional kimono, and then later appearing in two different suits. During the evening, special tribute was paid to designer Tohl Narita, and a slide show of Furuya-san's career was presented.
While attendees were eating dinner, special guest speakers took the stage to honor Furuya-san. The first of these was director Minoru Kawasaki, who cast Furuya-san in the goofy Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit (2008). The two had good chemistry together, and they shared quite a few laughs.
Next, Mari Shimizu (the original voice of the character Astro Boy) and Yoko Mizugaki (the original voice actress for Astro Boy's sister Uran) stepped onstage and shared their memories of Furuya-san. It was a lot of fun to see these icons of Japanese sci-fi interacting with each other, and the three of them seemed to enjoy it, too!
After that, Ultraman Ace (1972-73) actor Mitsuhiro Sano joined his fellow Tsuburaya Productions alumnus and, like the previous speakers, heaped praise on the original Ultraman.
Overall, it was a very enjoyable event, and Furuya-san was in great spirits. I became reacquainted with several folks I had lost touch with over the years and even made some new friends. As I was leaving, Furuya-san gave me a big hug, which was one highlight out of many. Happy birthday, Furuya-san!
As the event was held in Ginza, I had to take an obligatory photo of the Hattori Clock Tower, as seen in Godzilla (1954). Even at an Ultraman event, Godzilla still finds a way to make an appearance!