Wednesday, October 1, 2014

JAPAN'S JAZZ SINGER! Interviewing Actor and Musician Shinichi Yanagisawa!

Actor-singer Shinichi Yanagisawa holds a copy of G-FAN magazine following our interview about his career. Photo by Brett Homenick.

While the actors from Toho Studios have often been celebrated by fans of the Godzilla series and Japanese movie fans in general, many of the actors who made their names at rival studios remain largely obscure and unnoticed. Names like Sonny Chiba, Yujiro Ishihara, and Ken Takakura became famous outside of Toho, but they are largely the exceptions, at least where American fans are concerned.

That's why it was my distinct honor to interview actor and jazz singer Shinichi Yanagisawa last Sunday in Shinjuku. Yanagisawa-san is certainly best known worldwide for his comic-relief role as Miyamoto in The X from Outer Space (1967). If you remember the film's line about "plastic water," then you remember Yanagisawa-san!

Despite having been a prolific actor at Shochiku Studios throughout the 1960s, Yanagisawa-san started at Nikkatsu Studios in the late 1950s, working with filmmaker Shohei Imamura on several films. Yanagisawa-san worked freelance at Toho thereafter, even being directed in a film by Motoyoshi (Godzilla Raids Again) Oda. He also voiced Ricky Ricardo in the Japanese version of I Love Lucy! How's that for an entertainment legacy?

All this (and more) is covered in my upcoming interview. It was a joy to do, and I hope to see Yanagisawa-san again very soon!

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