From left to right: Hiroko Sakurai, Yasuhiko Saijo, Teruyoshi Nakano, Machiko Naka, and Eiichi Asada gather in Ikebukuro to celebrate Nakano-san's birthday. Photo by Brett Homenick.
Ultra Q almuni Hiroko Sakurai and Yasuhiko Saijo (who played Yuriko Edogawa and Ippei Togawa, respectively) enjoyed a reunion at the event. Photo by Brett Homenick.
Teruyoshi Nakano and Yasuhiko Saijo sing the "We Are Space Pilots" song from Gorath (1962), karaoke-style. Photo by Brett Homenick.
Throughout the event, the guests were happy to pose for pictures and sign whatever items were brought to them. I didn't have much to get signed, and the only item I brought was my 3 Gents in Hawaii (1963) DVD sleeve, already signed by Hiroko Sakurai, to be signed by Machiko Naka, who also appears in the film. Saijo-san was a surprise guest, and had I known he would be in attendance, I would have brought a few things. Oh, well, there's always next time!
A special cake was made for the event, and it featured Nakano-san along with his friend. After attendees snapped photos of it, it was divided up and served to everyone who wanted a slice.
Think the karaoke was over? Think again! SFX directors Nakano and Eiichi Asada (Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S., Godzilla: Final Wars) teamed up to sing "Godzilla and Jet Jaguar: Punch! Punch! Punch!" from Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973). Who knew that Toho SFX directors had so many talents?!
Of course, the man of the hour was Teruyoshi Nakano, and I enjoyed hanging out with him as much as ever. When I get to be 80 years old, I hope to be half as energetic as he is!
I've only met Eiichi Asada a couple of times, so I was surprised when he was able to mention my name without any prompting! Asada-san and I briefly spoke on the train ride to Koichi Kawakita's memorial tribute earlier this year, and (through my friend Yasushi) had a more in-depth conversation at the studio. He seemed surprised to know that I knew who he was at the time, so it must have left quite an impression on him.
I spoke with Kyoko Ifukube (the daughter of composer Akira Ifukube) several times throughout the evening, and naturally she is very familiar with my brother, Erik, who runs AkiraIfukube.org.
I was very excited to meet Yasuhiko Saijo, who is well known for playing Ippei Togawa in Ultra Q (1966). However, I know him better as a familiar face who'd turn up in Toho classics like Secret of the Telegian (1960), War of the Gargantuas (1966), Son of Godzilla (1967), Destroy All Monsters (1968), and other roles. He was very kind and enthusiastic, and when a fan lent him a replica of his trademark hat from Ultra Q, he insisted that we take another picture together so that I'd have this shot.
It was my second time to meet Machiko Naka (best known for playing Ichiro's mom in Godzilla's Revenge), and she is someone I'm always happy to meet. I've seen her in several Young Guy and Shacho series films from Toho (she was a regular performer in both series), so my interest in her career goes well beyond the one Godzilla movie she made. She was very surprised by my level of interest.
Hiroko Sakurai is a popular figure among Ultraman fans, and she was as approachable and warm as ever. Despite having been a fixture at many events over the years, her fans never lose their enthusiasm to meet her. I enjoyed getting the chance to speak with her again.
And that's a wrap! October has been another huge month, but it's not over yet, and there are still a couple of things in the works. November is already taking shape, too, and there will be quite a few surprises. As always, watch this space!