Saturday, January 11, 2014

RETURNING TO TOKYO: 2014 Kicks Off in a Big Way!

 Paying my respects at Eiji Tsuburaya's final resting place in Fuchu, Tokyo. Note the Godzilla toys fans have left out of respect to the master.

I recently returned from my latest trip to Tokyo, so I'll take some time to discuss the highlights. As usual, it was a fun few days, and I got to meet some new faces whom I hope I will see again very soon. On with the show.

Visiting Eiji Tsuburaya's grave site was a brand-new experience for me, and it was quite moving. Tsuburaya-san's influence on the genre we love still has not been properly documented in the West.

Not so far from Kadokawa-Daiei Studios is Nikkatsu Studios, which in 2012 celebrated its centennial. Near the front gates this Gappa sign is clearly visible. 

Here I am with actress-singer Izumi Yukimura. Yukimura-san was a frequent co-star with Akira Takarada at Toho Studios during the 1950s, and also stars in Ishiro Honda's An Echo Calls You (1959), Kihachi Okamoto's All About Marriage (1958), and the big-budget Toho musical You Can Succeed, Too (1964). I had a wonderful time with Yukimura-san, as we spent nearly the entire day together. She speaks English quite well and discussed her illustrious career with me at length. We had coffee (and dinner), walked around Shibuya, and even saw the new movie Gravity at the Toei Theater in Shibuya. It was quite a day!

Here I got to meet Toho and Tsuburaya Productions designer Akihiko Iguchi for the second time. I first met Iguchi-san at a Mechagodzilla event held in Ginza in November 2011. But this was a one-on-one meeting, with his daughter there to assist communication.

After having a cup of hot chocolate (perfect for a cold winter's day in Tokyo), I posed for this picture with Ultraman Ace cast member Keiko Nishi at her cafe in Ginza.

The Godzilla statue in Hibiya during sunset. Nuff sed.

My trip ended with a meeting with Toho star Yosuke Natsuki. We spoke for about four hours (!) with our mutual friend Asako, who very kindly translated the conversation. Natsuki-san is an excellent storyteller, and his company is something I always enjoy and look forward to.