Tuesday, October 17, 2017

THREE YEARS (AND COUNTING)! Taking in Shinichi Yanagisawa's Live Jazz Show in Asakusa!

Shinichi Yanagisawa. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Earlier this evening, I returned to the HUB in Asakusa to catch Shinichi Yanagisawa's latest jazz show with his All-Stars. What was particularly special about tonight's performance is that it marked three years of coming to the HUB to see Yanagisawa-san's shows.

My first visit to the HUB was in October 2014. The previous month, I'd interviewed Yanagisawa-san about his career. I haven't missed a show since my first visit. I've enjoyed myself immensely every time I've gone there.

I hope I don't need to remind anyone by this point, but Yanagisawa-san played Miyamoto in The X from Outer Space (1967). His "plastic water" line (in the AIP-TV release) is still among my favorites in the entire genre.

Many thanks for the last three years, Yanagisawa-san!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

PRINCESS FROM THE MOON! Cast and Crew Talk About This All-Star Toho Fantasy!

Eiichi Asada and Takatoshi Takeda pose with a Princess from the Moon poster. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Another event I attended today was a screening of Princess from the Moon (1987). Well, sort of. You see, because I attended the Ultraman event earlier in the day, I ended up missing the screening of the movie!

Takatoshi Takeda. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

But there was still a lot of fun to be had. In attendance were actor Takatoshi Takeda and special effects director Eiichi Asada (who served as assistant SFX director on Princess from the Moon). Of course, the two shared their memories of working on the film.

Eiichi Asada. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Eiichi Asada has enjoyed a lengthy career in Japanese SFX, dating back to the early 1970s. He was an assistant director on Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973), Submersion of Japan (1973), Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974), Espy (1974), Conflagration (1975), Zero Pilot (1976), The War in Space (1977), Deathquake (1980), The Imperial Navy (1981), Sayonara Jupiter (1984), and Godzilla 1985, among others. He was the special effects director on Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003) and Godzilla: Final Wars (2004).

One interesting story that Eiichi Asada told was about director Kon Ichikawa. Ichikawa often smoked on the set, and he (apparently subconsciously) would signal his feelings by the position of the pipe or cigarette in his mouth. For example, if his cigarette pointed upward, that meant he was angry or unhappy. But if the cigarette were facing downward, that meant he was satisfied. I suppose his cast and crew made sure to take note of where his cigarette was pointed at any given time!

Asada-san also brought the prop from Princess from the Moon that can be seen during the last scene of the film. When the spaceship comes to retrieve Yasuko Sawaguchi from Earth, you can see an alien in the ship, and here's the alien! Suffice it to say, it was cool to see such an interesting piece of film history.

ULTRA-GOOD! Showa Hero Reunites Ultraman Cast and Crew!

From left to right: Susumu Kurobe, Toshihiro Iijima, and Bin Furuya reunite to celebrate Ultraman. Photo by Brett Homenick.

I attended a very special event at the Nakano Sunplaza in Tokyo. Hosted by Showa Hero, it saw a reunion of three key players from Tsuburaya Productions' seminal TV series Ultraman (1966-67).

 Kurobe! Photo by Brett Homenick.

Headlining the guest list was actor Susumu Kurobe, who portrayed Shin Hayata (Ultraman's alter ego) in the series. Prior to his to turn in Ultraman, Kurobe-san was a Toho New Face who appeared in a wide range of movies. His most notable credits are Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster (1964), Son of Godzilla (1967), King Kong Escapes (1967), Destroy All Monsters (1968), and Latitude  Zero (1969). Kurobe-san returned to the Godzilla series during the Heisei era and can be seen in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991) and Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992). Of course, Kurobe-san has appeared in many other films and TV programs, tokusatsu and otherwise.

Bin Furuya. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Also on hand was Ultraman suit actor Bin Furuya. While I've met Furuya-san many times over the years, this was my first time to see him onstage with Susumu Kurobe.  

With Toshihiro Iijima.

The third guest in attendance was director Toshihiro Iijima, who helmed episodes of Ultra Q (1966), Ultraman, and Ultra Seven (1967-68). It's always a joy to see Iijima-san, who is a very kind gentleman.

With Susumu Kurobe. 

I was particularly glad to meet Susumu Kurobe. Contrary to most others, I'm sure, I'm actually more interested in his Toho career than his involvement in the Ultra-series. I grew up with his kaiju movies; Ultraman came much later in life for me.

With Bin Furuya.

What can I say? It never gets old visiting Bin Furuya!

And that's a wrap! Many thanks to Ms. Kojima and Showa Hero for staging another enjoyable event. I hope to attend the next one!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Daimajin Suit Actor Riki Hashimoto Passes Away at 83

Riki Hashimoto in November 2015. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Former professional baseball player and Daimajin suit actor (in all the Daiei movies from 1966) passed away at the age of 83 on October 11 of lung cancer, just days short of his 84th birthday on October 20. 

Internationally, Hashimoto-san would be best known for going toe-to-toe with Bruce Lee in The Chinese Connection (1972).

I was fortunate enough to meet Hashimoto-san several times since the spring of 2015. He was a kind gentleman with a warm sense of humor. Rest in peace, Hashimoto-san.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

THE TOKYO METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT BUILDING! A Nighttime View of This Familiar Godzilla Location!

The Tokyo Government Metropolitan Building (a.k.a. the Tax Towers). Photo by Brett Homenick.

While in the area, I decided to snap a few photos of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, as seen during the climactic battle in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991). I threw in a couple of extra shots of the Shinjuku Sumitomo Building for the heck of it. Take a look!

FALL FOLIAGE MEETS GODZILLA! A New Look at the Shinjuku Sumitomo Building!

The Shinjuku Sumitomo Building. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Fall is in the air, and so is Godzilla's atomic ray! Godzilla is still on display on the side of the Shinjuku Sumitomo Building, but as summer gives way to autumn, it's starting to look a whole lot prettier. Take a gander yourself.

ABOUT AND ABOUT IN SHINJUKU! Taking in the G-Related Sights!

Lucky shot! This bus passed right in front of me right when I took out my camera. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

My travels brought me to Shinjuku earlier today, and with the area gearing up for Halloween, there were a few new things to see. Anyhow, on with the pictures!

Monday, October 9, 2017

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TERUYOSHI NAKANO! Toho's Former SFX Director Turns 82 in Style!

 Teruyoshi Nakano's birthday cake. Photo by Brett Homenick.

October 9 marks Teruyoshi Nakano's 82nd birthday, and I just returned from the celebration. I was very happy to be there, as Nakano-san is not only a true gentleman, but one of the most important figures in the history of Godzilla films.

 Blowing out the candles! Photo by Brett Homenick.

When the birthday cake was brought out, Nakano-san blew out the candles, and everyone in attendance applauded. 

I wonder what he wished for. Photo by Brett Homenick.

After that, anyone who brought gifts gave them to the SFX director. I brought a box of assorted Japanese treats and presented it to Nakano-san.

 Receiving a birthday gift. Photo by Brett Homenick.

One of the presents Nakano-san received was a Century II felt-tip pen (the kind that President Trump uses), which was something that he wanted for a while. I wish I could say my gift was anywhere near that cool!

It occurred to me that I've attended a birthday celebration (and sometimes more than one!) for Nakano-san every year since 2012. That's quite a record. If they happen, I'll be there!

Happy birthday, Nakano-san!