"There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit." - President Ronald Reagan.

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Godzilla Events In Hollywood of 2004

Here are some more photos from the Godzilla Final Wars/50th Anniversary events in Hollywood ten years ago:

Above, Johnny Grant dances with Godzilla (Tsutomu Kitagawa) at the Walk of Fame ceremony.

Above, producer Shogo Tomiyama addresses the Walk of Fame ceremony.

Above, Johnny Grant and Godzilla.

Above, Godzilla and Shogo Tomiyama.

Above, the Godzilla Final Wars float.

Above, the Godzilla Final Wars float at the Hollywood Christmas Parade.

All photos © Armand Vaquer.

Sequence Photos of Tsutomu Kitagawa As Godzilla In Hollywood

As this weekend marks ten years since the Godzilla events in Hollywood, I posted a bunch of photographs of those events over at Facebook. So, I might as well post them here, too (actually, more of them).

At the time, I was using my old, reliable Olympus OM-1 with a motor drive (ah, the days of film cameras) and caught Tsutomu Kitagawa coming out (in sequence) to the Walk of Fame ceremony in a Godzilla Final Wars event suit and "vaporizing" the assembled press:

All photos © Armand Vaquer.

Shinagawa: Rich In History

Above, a map showing where Shinagawa is located in Tokyo. Source: Google Maps.

Last February, I went to Shinagawa Station in Tokyo to catch the Keikyu Railway Line to go to Yokosuka to see the Godzilla slide at the Kurihama Flower World and to meet up with Tom Logan, a college buddy who was living in Yokohama at the time.

Shinagawa has quite a history and The Japan Times has a feature article on the area.

Here's a snippet:
Today, Shinagawa is a place where old meets new. Visitors can deviate from the old Tokaido road near Keikyu Railway’s Kita-Shinagawa Station by walking along a street south of it that will show how close Shinagawa once stood to the coastline before additional land was reclaimed from Tokyo Bay.
Had I known about the history of Shinagawa, I may have taken a stroll around. But then, it was cold and snowy on each day I was in Shinagawa anyway.

Above, Tom Logan and I at a very cold Starbucks in Shinagawa Station.

If one is interested in Tokyo or Japan history, the article is well worth a read.

To read the article, go here

Latest In Blog Post Pick-ups

The fine folks at The Japan Daily have picked up several blog posts from yesterday for sharing with their readers.

They include:

To read The Japan Daily, go here.

An Osaka Castle 400th Anniversary

Above, Osaka Castle. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

This year marks a 400th anniversary involving Osaka Castle.

According to Gaijinpot.com:
Osaka Castle has been holding many small events over the last year and will continue to do so until next year. Signs and flags seem to mark some sort of 400 year anniversary, but what is going on? Is it the anniversary of the castle being built, or is it the anniversary of something else? 
It turns out to be the 400th anniversary of the siege of the castle and the fall of its feudal lord. In order to understand the importance of this event, you would need to know a bit more about the history of Japan.
The article then provides some Japanese and Osaka Castle history.

The present structure was built in the 1930s. It is a museum with interactive displays.

To read more, go here

Tenth Anniversary of Godzilla In Hollywood

Above, Godzilla at the Walk of Fame star unveiling ceremony. I am at left video taping the event.

Incredible as it may seem, yesterday and Friday marked ten years since the festivities were held in Hollywood for Godzilla. (See the video below.)

First, Godzilla was sent down Hollywood Blvd. on a float sponsored by Toho Co., Ltd. in the Hollywood Christmas Parade. I was asked by Toho to write the announcer's (Rick Dees) narrative for when the float passed the main reviewing and media stands.

Above, Godzilla vaporizing the media. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The next day, Godzilla was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame in a morning ceremony with Hollywood's Honorary Mayor Johnny Grant serving as master of ceremonies. The ceremony featured remarks by City Councilman Tom LaBonge and producer Shogo Tomiyama. Grant read a history of Godzilla that I wrote at Toho's request (Grant had a difficult time pronouncing several monster names, to everyone's amusement). I arranged for a proclamation of "Godzilla Month" by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the office of Sup. Michael Antonovich.

Above, producer Shogo Tomiyama addresses the ceremony attendees. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Mr. Tomiyama said in his remarks that Godzilla would be resurrected by new generations of filmmakers. Well, it took ten years, but Godzilla returned to the screens this year, courtesy of Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures.

That evening, Godzilla Final Wars premiered at Grauman's Chinese Theater. Following this, a private party was held at the complex at Hollywood and Highland, hosted by Toho.

Below, is a video of news coverage of the events by two local Los Angeles stations.

Ten years certainly has flown by.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

"The Unknown People" Notes

Above, George Reeves and Phyllis Coates.

Due to owning the complete set of DVDs of the Adventures of Superman, it makes it easier for me to spot where broadcast versions of the show were cut.

Above, actress Beverly Washburn at the Superman Celebration Luncheon in August. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I noticed several snips during my watching of the two parts of "The Unknown People" on MeTV tonight. They were relatively minor, but still noticeable. I have seen worse hack jobs.

Above, Jeff Corey in 2001.
Still, it was nice to see the show on broadcast television. Next to I Love Lucy, the Adventures of Superman has had the longest longevity of any 1950s television show. A lot of that has to do with the start of color broadcasting of the show in 1965.

Someone within the Superman organization was smart to film the 1954 -1957 seasons in color and store them in a vault until the time was right.

I have met four of the stars of "The Unknown People"over the years. First, it was Jeff Corey, who played the villain Luke Benson. Then it was Billy Curtis, who played one of the mole men. Next, I met Phyllis Coates, who played Lois Lane. And, finally, I met Beverly Washburn, who played the little girl, at this year's Superman Celebration.

I Now Have Me-TV

Above, an ad from the 1950s.

Following the clean-up and putting away all my furnishings after the pipe break, I re-configured the antenna to the television set and discovered that I now can get Me-TV.

The Adventures of Superman is on Me-TV's Saturday evening schedule (along with Batman and Wonder Woman) and tonight is the 1951 two-parter, "The Unknown People." "The Unknown People" is the edited television version of the 1951 theatrical feature, Superman and the Mole Men. It starred George Reeves and Phyllis Coates.

So, in just under an hour, I will be watching.

Shibuya 109 Store To Open In Hong Kong

Above, the Shibuya 109 store in Tokyo. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The Shibuya 109 department store in Shibuya's shopping district has some history in kaiju movies.

In Gamera 3 (1999), the store was blasted by Gamera while in pursuit of several Gyaos birds. In Godzilla x Megaguirus (2000), the store was obliterated by sonic blasts by Megaguirus.

Now, in 2014, it has been announced that plans are underway to open a Shibuya 109 store in Hong Kong next year.

According to The Japan News (Yomiuri Shimbun):
The Tokyu Group plans to open a Shibuya 109 store in Hong Kong — the store’s first overseas operation — as early as autumn next year, according to sources. 
Shibuya 109 is a fashion center in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, and is known as a trendsetter in young women’s fashion.
The Shibuya Ward, including the Shibuya 109 department store, is covered in The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan on page 27.

To read more, go here.

Asakusa Tourist Information Center Gets Rave Reviews At TripAdvisor

Above, the Kaminarimon Gate, which is across the street from the Asakusa tourist information center. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

TripAdvisor has scored the Asakusa tourist information center high reviews by visitors to the travel website.

According to The Japan News (Yomiuri Shimbun):
The Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center in the Asakusa district, a popular tourist destination in Taito Ward, Tokyo, ranked 14th among the 20 best free tourist spots in Japan that visitors felt were worth going to, according to this year’s ranking released by the world’s largest travelers’ review site, TripAdvisor. 
The tourist information center is located just across the street from the Kaminarimon Gate of Sensoji temple. 
The center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

To read more, go here.

Japan’s 10 Best Ryokan Inns and Top 10 Hotels

Above, a bird's eye view of Tokyo from Mori Tower in Roppongi Hills. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

TripAdvisor JP has compiled their "readers' choice" survey results of the top ten hotels and top ten ryokans (Japanese inns) in Japan.

Personally, I have never stayed at any of the hotels and ryokans on the list, although I am familiar with one of the named hotels, the Park Hyatt Hotel in Shinjuku, from the movie Lost In Translation. But you may find them enticing enough to want to book a room for a future vacation.

The good folks at Rocket News 24 posted the top ten hotels and ryokans for quick and easy viewing.

They begin their post with:
Ask any member of the RocketNews24 team, and we’ll tell you: Japan is awesome. A lot of people seem to agree, too, seeing as how Japan gets more and more visitors from abroad every year. 
But as much as we love all of our readers, and hope you all get a chance to come visit, our staff doesn’t quite have the collective living room floor space for you to crash at our apartments. Thankfully, the country has plenty of amazing accommodation, as shown by this list of the top 10 inns and hotels in Japan, as picked by foreign travelers.

Travel website TripAdvisor JP recently released the results of its latest annual survey of the highest-rated ryokan (Japanese inns) and modern-style hotels in Japan, as determined by user reviews.
 To see the survey results, go here.

Newest Blog Post Pick-ups

The good folks at The Japan Daily picked up several blog posts from here (and one from Monster Island News) for sharing with their readers.

They are:

To read The Japan Daily, go here.

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" Teaser Trailers

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan: The Perfect Stocking-stuffer

Above, The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Where the heck did November go? It seems like only yesterday that we had the midterm elections and now the month is almost over.

That means Christmas is just around the corner. For those of you (or someone you know) who want to make a pilgrimage to Japan to visit locations and landmarks featured in your favorite Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, Gamera and other movies, The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan is the perfect stocking-stuffer.

Right now, it is available at $9.95 per copy plus $2.00 shipping & handling. That's a savings of $5.05 off the cover price.

For details on ordering, go here.

Mt. Aso's Eruption Causing Chaos With Air Traffic

Above, a scene from Rodan (1956) picturing one of the flying monsters over Mount Aso.

Kaiju fans are familiar with Kyushu's Mount Aso volcano as the location where the Rodans met their demise in Rodan (1956). The bombardment of missiles and artillery shells of the monsters caused the volcano to erupt. The eruption finished off the flying reptiles.

Above, Mount Aso's eruption engulfs one of the Rodans in 1956.

Today, the Mount Aso volcano is erupting (today is the fourth day since the eruption began) and is causing havoc with air traffic out of Kumamoto Airport.

According to the United Kingdom's The Independent in an article dated November 28:
Plumes of volcanic ash caused flight cancellations and disruptions yesterday in the first eruption of a Japanese volcano in more than 22 years. 
Mount Aso - situated on Kyushu island 625 miles (1,005km) south from the capital Tokyo - spewed out lava, debris and smoke while expelling columns of ash 3,280 feet (1km) into the sky, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. 
Dozens of flights from Kumamoto Airport, in the nearest city, were cancelled by Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways due to poor visibility in the area.
To read more, go here.

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★Otaru Yukikaki Snow Shoveling Championship (Feb. 21)

That's right, you read correctly, it's a snow shoveling championship in Otaru, Hokkaido, which is called "yukikaki" locally! This unique event includes a morning of helping out elderly local residents by shoveling the snow from in front of their houses, which also serves as practice for the snow shoveling competition in the afternoon, followed by the snowman building competition! Held on Feb. 21, the championship is a great opportunity to play in the snow while interacting with the locals and helping out the community. Don't miss it!

Enter the World Sports Yukikaki Championship!

★Experience the Hot Springs of Gero Onsen

Gero Onsen is a quaint, scenic mountain town in Gifu Prefecture (near Hida Takayama), but what you may not know is that it is one of Japan's most famous hot spring resort towns. It makes the perfect getaway for a day or two of peace and quiet, and the soothing hot springs will melt away your fatigue!

Find out more about historic hot spring town Gero Onsen!

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