Tuesday, April 9, 2013

HOW I SPENT MY SPRING VACATION! Friends and Fun in Tokyo

A chance meeting with actress Anna Nakagawa (Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah) was just the first of several surprises during my most recent sojourn to Tokyo.

I must say that I had an enjoyable spring break. It's certainly one of the benefits of being a teacher. During my most recent visit to Japan's capital, I was able to stay for the longest time I've ever spent in Tokyo. So, of course, I was able to accomplish quite a lot. Here are some highlights:

I met screenwriter Wataru Mimura for dinner and coffee. Coincidentally, we ran into each other the day before at Shinjuku Station! It was the same day I met Ms. Nakagawa by chance on the train, which has to be a record for me!

On April 1, I met and interviewed actor Katsuhiko Sasaki. The interview was translated by my friend Yasushi. We both enjoyed Sasaki-san's company, and he shared many fascinating stories.

Yasushi also directed me to a cafe owned by the husband of Ultraman Ace actress Keiko Nishi. Ms. Nishi works at the cafe and is happy to chat with Ultraman fans who come wandering in. Even though the language barrier prevented deeper conversation, I was glad to meet her.

It's become something of a tradition to meet Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster director and Godzilla (2014) executive producer Yoshimitsu Banno for coffee and dinner. I always enjoy Banno-san's company, as we talk about a wide range of topics.

Another highlight was getting to meet and interview Goro Mutsumi from the Showa Mechagodzilla movies. We held the interview at English Avenue Daikanyama, and it was translated by Asako Kato. As always, she did a tremendous job. Mutsumi-san is a gentleman of the first order, much different from the villainous roles he's played on the screen!

Hangin' with America's newest movie star, Akira Takarada. Takarada-san showed me some photos from his recent trip to Vancouver (to film a certain movie). It was also my first time seeing his office. I was quite happy to meet Takarada-san's secretary in person, Kogure-san. We've spoken on the phone for years but never met! We ended up having Chinese food for dinner at a nearby restaurant.

Tokyo as seen from the observation deck of Mori Tower in Roppongi.

Godzilla vs. Megalon star and former Village Singers member Yutaka Hayashi and our mutual friend Akio got together at Hayashi-san's night club Abbey Road for a birthday party. Whose birthday, you might ask? Mine! It was quite a surprise. I had no idea it was coming, but I was quite grateful for the experience (to say the least).

Interviewing Gamera series screenwriter Niisan Takahashi near his home in Chigasaki, Kanagawa. Yasushi once again provided the translation for this wide-ranging interview. Many anecdotes were revealed, and it was truly an eye-opening conversation. Takahashi-san was great to spend time with. I'm still flattered that Gamera's creator called me "ikemen"!

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