Thursday, October 11, 2012

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NAKANO-SAN! The Famed SFX Director Celebrated his 77th Birthday in Style!

Nakano-san tries on his new birthday present at the Grissom Gang's movie theater in Kawasaki, Kanagawa.

Despite a flurry of Facebook and message board postings to the contrary (which erroneously listed his birthday as October 1), Teruyoshi Nakano celebrates his birthday on October 9. How do I know? On Saturday, October 6, the Grissom Gang hosted an all-day event, celebrating the 77th birthday of one of Toho's most celebrated SFX directors.

The event began with a series of trailers, including the coming attractions for Godzilla 1985 (yes, the American version), Godzilla '98 (no "GINO" references, please), and Godzilla 2000 (the American version again). Following that, Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster played to an appreciative audience.

My friend Yasushi gets an autograph from Nakano-san.

After the movie, Gaijin Channel interviewed Mr. Nakano about his lengthy SFX career. During the interview, I was surprised when Nakano-san picked me out of the audience and mentioned our e-mail correspondence. Suffice it to say, I didn't see that coming!

After the interview wrapped, it was off to a nearby sauna, which has become a tradition for Nakano-san's birthday events at the Grissom Gang. There each attendee gets to wash the back of Mr. Nakano before he enters the water. To say the least, it was an interesting experience! I've been to more than one onsen in Japan, so I'm familiar with the routine, and the initial "shock" has all but worn off.

At the time, I asked Mr. Nakano if he had ever had his back washed by a foreigner, which he hadn't. During dinner, he revealed that he actually felt quite honored that I, a foreigner from a different culture, would show him such respect. He said it would be a memory he'd take with him to heaven. I didn't know what to say. I was speechless.

Meeting Jim Ballard and J.R. Lipartito of Gaijin Channel. 

The dinner went very well, with Nakano-san teaching us gaijin the proper way of drinking sake. He was also amazed that several Westerners attended his birthday celebration. I'm glad we were able to make his birthday party an international experience!

Teruyoshi Nakano recounts one of many stories during dinner.

All in all, it was an absolutely memorable event. I feel extremely privileged to have been part of it. As someone who was introduced to the world of Godzilla through Godzilla vs. Megalon, I couldn't have asked for a more fulfilling experience. While we were there to honor Nakano-san, I think we all felt honored to be a part of it!

This was only the beginning of an eventful weekend, but it was a tremendous kickoff. My sincerest thanks to Teruyoshi Nakano and the Grissom Gang for their generosity and hospitality!

Yours truly and Nakano-san at Shimo-Kitazawa Station.

Here's to you, Teruyoshi Nakano!


  1. I was certain you'd attend Director Nakano's Birthday, but never expected GC !
    Those darn Gaijins... :D

    Some Japanese friends have said that time went so fast ! (despite knowing already of Nakano's habit of too much talking) ... :)

    Washing Nakano's back sounds a bit odd, but he gets to let people clean spots he can't reach in his age... :p

  2. Regarding Nakano-san's back it wasn't so odd. Before you enter the water, you wash yourself completely with soap. Naturally, your back is one place you can't really clean on your own.

    It's a ritual at all his birthday parties, so I knew what to expect, and I was actually looking forward to the opportunity. I had no idea it'd become so memorable!

    Thanks for stopping by again, H!