Thursday, November 30, 2017

A Day with Ulf

Actor Ulf Otsuki. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

It'd also been a long time since I last visited Ulf Otsuki, but today I finally had another chance. I visited him at his home, and we took in John Wayne's last movie, The Shootist (1976). It was my first time seeing the film, and while I'm hardly a John Wayne aficionado, I enjoyed the picture. Ulf was certainly very impressed by it.

After the movie, we went out for Indian food. Suffice it to say, it was a great time. Can't wait to do it all over again!

A TAC ATTACK! Returning to Okita-san's Restaurant!

Actor Shunichi Okita. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Last night, I went to the bar owned and operated by actor Shunichi Okita, best known as TAC member Ichiro Yamanaka from Ultraman Ace (1972-73). Before that, he got his start at Nikkatsu Studios and even appeared in a couple of Kihachi Okamoto movies at Toho. 

It has been a while since I last visited the restaurant, and I had a wonderful time. Hopefully, I won't wait so long to return!


Ho ho hodad! Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Last night, I went to Futako-Tamagawa to take in some of the sights at Rise, the shopping center just outside the train station. As you can see, it's already the Christmas season here in Japan!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

CELEBRATING TERUYOSHI NAKANO'S CAREER! Fans and Colleagues Turn Out to Salute the Toho SFX Director!

SFX director Teruyoshi Nakano and Toho actress Machiko Naka. Photo by Brett Homenick.

The main event of the day was a special celebration of Teruyoshi Nakano's career as a Toho SFX director. Another featured guest was Toho actress Machiko Naka, who played the mother in Godzilla's Revenge (1969) and was a regular in the successful Young Guy and Company President series.

Things began with a special performance of "Save the Earth" performed on a koto, which was (to say the very least) an interesting way to hear the song. It was obviously played at a much slower tempo than the original, but it was very enjoyable.

The music only continued from there, as Teruyoshi Nakano (and his backup singers!) performed the "We Are Space Pilots" song from Gorath (1962). Of course, longtime readers of this blog know that this wasn't the first time Nakano-san has performed this song at a similar event.

Noriko Sato (left) and Kyoko Ifukube. Photo by Brett Homenick.

There was also a big musical connection with two other guests in attendance. Akira Ifukube's daughter Kyoko was on hand, as was Noriko Sato, who of course comes from the family of the Godzilla series' other major composer, Masaru Sato. 

I had a great time speaking with a lot of the folks there. I was fortunate to sit next to Naka-san for an extended period, as we discussed her career, and I showed her photos of some of her old colleagues from Toho, particularly Tatsuyoshi Ehara, who (like her) was also a regular on the Young Guy series.

Teruyoshi Nakano, Machiko Naka, and yours truly. 

Even though I'd attended the Masaru Sato concert in July, I didn't have a chance to meet Noriko Sato, who was at the event, but this time I most certainly did, and I got to know her quite well. Masaru Sato is actually my favorite Japanese composer.

The event was held on the 58th floor of Sunshine 60 in Ikebukuro, and as you can see from the picture above, we were rather high up. This was an extremely fun event with a lot of variety and friendly people. I hope we can all do it again soon!

MECHAGODZILLA PROPS ON DISPLAY! Now I Know What It's Like on the Third Planet of the Black Hole!

 "I want the statue!" Photo by Brett Homenick.

Today, I attended a special event with Godzilla series SFX director Teruyoshi Nakano. In celebration of Nakano-san's career, some props from Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974) and Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975) were on display, most notably the King Seesar (a.k.a. King Caesar) statue, Professor Miyajima's powerful pipe, and a alien ray guns from both films. The Mechagodzilla films have long been favorites of mine, and while it was cool enough to look at them, it was something else to hold them. Quite cool, indeed!

MEETING A NIKKATSU DIRECTOR! Breaking Bread with the Man Who Directed Strada 5's Pilot Episode!

Director Yukihiro Sawada. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Tonight, I was privileged to meet Nikkatsu director Yukihiro Sawada, who specialized in directing some of the studio's more erotic output during the 1970s. I must admit that I'm rather unfamiliar with his work in that area, but one of his credits that is of interest to me is the 13-episode TV series Strada 5 (1974), of which he directed only the pilot episode.

It's not every day that one has the chance to meet the director of an obscure Super Sentai-esque TV series (although it predates Super Sentai by a year), so I was sure to seize the opportunity. I'm glad I did!

Saturday, November 25, 2017


Actor Shoji Mori. Phoro by Brett Homenick.

Tonight, I dropped in on another lecture by actor Shoji Mori, a veteran of the Zatoichi series, Daiei's Woman Gambler series, and even the Mito Komon TV series. Suffice it to say, his credits are expansive.

I always enjoy the opportunity to see Mori-san. I have a scheduling conflict with next month's lecture, so this will likely be the last time this year. But there's always next year!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

P-LABO FILMFES 2017! Toho Alums Converge on Chofu!

Godzilla scribes Wataru Mimura (left) and Hiroshi Kashiwabara. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Tonight, once I was finished at work, I headed over to the Chofu City Cultural Center in Chofu, Tokyo, to attend Wataru Mimura's P-LABO FILMFES. I always try to make an effort to attend each this, and this time I was just barely able to make it in time! 

Hiroshi Kashiwabara. Photo by Brett Homenick.

By the time I had arrived, the last short film was being screened. I took my seat and watched the remainder of it. It was a surreal story with a bizarre (and horrific) twist ending. Despite the low production values, it held my attention.

 Wataru Mimura. Photo by Brett Homenick.

When the lights came up, former Toho president (and Godzilla series producer) Shogo Tomiyama got up and made his way toward the exit. I was able to greet him before he left. 

I hope the fine folks of Itasca, IL, aren't too jealous.

My main purpose of attending the film festival was to reunite with the Godzilla series personalities in attendance, particularly Wataru Mimura and Hiroshi Kashiwabara. They are veterans of the Heisei and Millennium series and are also some of the nicest guys you'll ever meet.

And that's all for tonight! Although my lateness caused me to miss most of it, I certainly enjoy my time at this year's P-LABO FILMFES. Short and sweet, as they say.

GAMERA AND DAIMJIN TAKE CHOFU STATION! Daiei Characters Rule the Railway!

Gamera gets his rematch against Guiron at Chofu Station! Photo by Brett Homenick.

There's a lot of movie history near Chofu Station, as Nikkatsu and Daiei (now Kadokawa Daiei) movie studios have operated nearby for decades. Chofu Station has embraced this heritage by giving itself a movie theme. Best of all, silhouette figures of Daimajin, Gamera, and Gamera's greatest foes adorn the station near the ticket gates! How cool is that? Check it out for yourself!