Saturday, May 3, 2014

LA SHION: Setagaya's Watering Hole for Ultraman!

Near Futako-Tamagawa Station in Setagaya, Tokyo, is a bar owned and operated by actor Shunichi Okita, best known to Western fans as Terrible Monster Attacking Crew (TAC) member Ichiro Yamanaka from Tsuburaya Productions' Ultraman Ace (1972-73). While that is Okita-san's primary tokusatsu credit, he is also known in Japan for being one of Nikkatsu Studios' 1964 New Face actors (as Tsuyoshi Yoshida), working with celebrated director Seijun Suzuki on Tokyo Drifter (1966) and later with Kihachi Okamoto on Battle of Okinawa (1971) at Toho Studios.

So, for those of you who are interested in Japanese entertainment, La Shion is most definitely a place to check out. It's very similar to the now-defunct Kaiju-ya in Shibuya, in that the bar is adorned with pictures, books, autographed shikishi boards, and assorted memorabilia from Okita-san's career. Karaoke is also part of the festivities, and yes, English-language songs are available.

That's me posing with Okita-san. While I wasn't the first foreigner who's ever visited his establishment, I was the first to seek it out specifically because of Okita-san. I was quite pleased to hear that. He's a welcoming and charming gentleman, and it was very cool to meet him. I'll most certainly be back!

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