Nikkatsu actor Tamio Kawachi. Photo by Brett Homenick.
Tonight, I was privileged to meet actor Tamio Kawachi (which is usually misspelled as "Kawaji"), who in the West is best known as the star of Gappa the Triphibian Monster (a.k.a. Monster from a Prehistoric Planet, 1967). His other credits include Kinji Fukasaku's Battles Without Honor and Humanity (1973) and the all-star Toei actioner The Bullet Train (1975). In later years, he was a regular on Ultraman Tiga (1996-97) and could be seen in subsequent Ultraman movies and TV programs.
Tamio Kawachi signs autographs. Photo by Brett Homenick.
A 35mm print of Downhill Youth (1959) was screened, and it naturally starred Kawachi-san. Afterward, he answered questions about his career and signed autographs for attendees. I found that Kawachi-san spoke some English and has visited America a few times, namely Los Angeles, New York, and Hawaii. At one point, he stayed in L.A. for an extended period of time at his friend's house, during which he golfed and visited attractions like Knott's Berry Farm.
He asked me a couple of questions about my life in Japan, and it was an enjoyable conversation. Although he had to leave the dinner a bit early, it was certainly an evening well spent with the star of one of the most notable kaiju films from Japan (and the only one ever produced by Nikkatsu Studios). Many thanks to Kawachi-san for such a great time!