Friday, August 12, 2011

Shinji Higuchi and Yutaka Hayashi

Peace! sez yours truly and SFX master Shinji Higuchi, whose SFX wizardry made the Heisei Gamera films so popular among Western G-fans.

While visiting Toho Studios remains the highlight of my recent Tokyo trip, meeting two new friends, both of whose work I have admired for years, ranks right up there. With several G-TOUR members, I ate dinner with Shinji Higuchi at a T.G.I. Friday's in Shinagawa on August 5.

Mr. Higuchi and I give Ken Takakura thumbs up! 

Sitting next to Mr. Higuchi for the meal gave me the opportunity to pick his brain and swap stories about many of my favorite movie directors and actors, many of whom turned out to be his favorites, too! For example, he told me a great story about working with Tetsuro Tanba on his version of Sinking of Japan (2006), which showed that, even though Mr. Tanba was near death, he was as full of life as he ever was. We also discussed the award-winning Ken Takakura film Station (1981), Kinji Fukasaku flicks, the recently departed Sakyo Komatsu, among many other topics.

Did I mention that Mr. Higuchi is familiar with my current stomping grounds, Nakatsugawa? That alone earns him a lot of props!

Below is a video shot by J.D. Lees that captures the lighthearted atmosphere of the dinner:

Yutaka Hayashi and I meet for the first time. 

Another highlight that occurred on August 5 was my meeting Yutaka Hayashi, who played Hiroshi Jinkawa in Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973). Readers of this blog may know that Megalon was the first Godzilla movie I ever saw, so its influence on my life cannot be overstated. Admittedly, I was totally in awe when I met Mr. Hayashi. It's not every day you get to meet a genuine childhood hero!

A real smile: You can see how excited I am to meet Mr. Hayashi!

As with Mr. Higuchi, Mr. Hayashi and I talked about the Japanese film industry. I even spoke with him about Station, which is when I learned that Ken Takakura's last film is likely to be released next year. We also discussed Hiroshi Fujioka, the original Kamen Rider, with whom Mr. Hayashi is a close friend.

Shortly after Mr. Hayashi left, I was told by our mutual friend Akio that Mr. Hayashi typically doesn't meet fans, but that he especially wanted to meet me. Suffice it to say, I was overwhelmed to hear that.

Here's some footage shot by Akio of me with Mr. Hayashi. I think my appreciation comes through on the video. Please see for yourself.