Friday, October 30, 2015

一日の画像 - Picture of the Day:

Marking the passing of former Koyasan Buddhist Temple President Shoji Kanogawa. 

Mr. Shoji "Stogie" Kanogawa was both a dear friend and the inspiration for the Soji Nishida character in the American Mishima epic The Soldier and the Samurai.
In Gassho.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Behind the Scenes look at the IJN Fleet of Tora Tora Tora

Every now and then we come across some gems on the internet that give us a look how such great films are made. For this edition we have a small collection of photos of the full scale mockups of the Imperial Japanese Navy that were constructed for the 1970 film TORA TORA TORA. As history recalls, the film was a joint American-Japanese production with famed master film maker Akira Kurosawa initially leading the Japanese side of the production. But just after two weeks of filming Kurosawa backed (or more accurately fired by 20th Century Fox) out of the film citing it just wasn't his style of film he was used to making with American producers making him accountable for his every move. While Kurosawa worked the first two years of pre-production and oversaw the filming of the dramatic "picture shots"m of the Japanese fleet, his mark on the film's opening scenes are unmistakable with his use of the natural elements such as big sky shots and the genius to build his full scale mockups of the Flagship Nagato and the Aircraft Carrier Akagi on a beach facing the ocean. Considering there was no CGI back then, this was a brilliant move on the part of the master director. That being said, here's are some of the photos of the set under construction. As with the later 2005 production of Otoko no Tachi no Yamato (Men of the Yamato) attention to detail was done with great precision to ensure the believability of the film. 

They made the Nagato look so real, this wooden mockup looks like she could take to the seas!
 Carrier Akagi mockup under construction.

Seen here is the Carrier Akagi brought back to life!
Here's a rare photo taken at some distance of the set where the full scale mockup of the Nagato and Akagi sit at the waters edge for filming. It's a shame we couldn't find a clearer photo in color. 

On the American Side, Director Richard Fleischer built only one mockup of the USS Arizona for principal photography. The rest was done using model miniatures. 
Seen here are the Nagato and Akagi miniatures in the water for the later Japanese scenes.
 Here's the same model out of the water.
Considering the technology of 1970, it's fair to say they did an amazing job for their day. If you haven't seen this war classic, it's worth it. But don't take our word for it, see it yourself!

To learn more of Director Kurosawa's role please watch the second video detailing the behind the scenes controversy surrounding the Japanese side of the production.

Monday, October 26, 2015

A Loss of a Remarkable Man: Shoji “Stogie” Kanogawa

It is with great sadness that our dear friend and one time Koyasan Temple President Shoji "Stogi" Kanogawa has passed away. A Washington born native, Shoji was the inspiration for the Soji Nishida character in our epic novel The Soldier and the Samurai. It was with his detailed recollections of  pre-war Seattle of the 1930's-1940's that we were able to create a literary facsimile of the world he grew up in. Like other Japanese Americans of his generation, Shoji along with his family (who owned the 12th Street Market in Seattle) were sent to the War Relocation Camps. Despite this unjust experience he proudly served in the US Army in the interim years between WWII and the Korean War from 1946-1949. Mr. Kanogawa as we knew him was a jolly old fellow who was one of the first people to welcome us to the Koyasan Temple. He had always been a friendly, lively, energetic man but then he suffered a debilitating stroke two years ago and had been in a steady decline yet remained a dear friend to the very end. He is survived by his wife Masako, two adult daughters Lori & Nancy Kanogawa. He was 88 years old at the time of his death. For us, Mr. Kanogawa was our friend and he will be missed but never forgotten. 

Sayonara old friend and Rest in Peace Mr. Kanogawa.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Japan PM Shinzo Abe Boards U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier

Current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe became the first sitting Japanese Prime Minister to board a United States Navy Aircraft Carrier, the newly deployed USS Ronald Reagan weeks after it arrived at its new home port at Yokosuka Naval Base in Kanagawa Prefecture. This comes one month after the Japanese Parliament (Diet) voted to enact new laws expanding the role of Japan's "Self Defense Forces" in a time of crisis to assist Japan's allies if needed. After the 3/11 Tohuko Disaster, the USS Ronald Reagan participated in Operation Tomodachi. Such good will on the part of the US Navy has not been lost as PM Abe declared the USS Ronald Reagan a Tomodachi (friend) who was there to help the people of Japan during it's time of need.
To the Ship and its crew, PM Abe wished to give a "hearty welcome" and a continuation of what he calls the US-Japan "Alliance of Hope."

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Marking a Milstone: Obata Toshihiro @ 67

Seven time All Japan Sword Champion, Author, & Shinkendo Founder Toshihiro Obata celebrates his 67th birthday as seen here in this photo Honbu Dojo Los Angeles, Little Tokyo 10-20-2015.  

We at American Mishima wish Obata Kaiso a continued long happy life.  

おめでとう たんじょうび ございます!

Monday, October 19, 2015

PM Abe JMSDF Fleet Review 2015

This last week, Japan's JMSDF showcased it's fleet for its tri-annaul review before Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The Fleet conducted its review in Sagami Bay which included its modern armada of missile guided cruisers, destroyers, submarines, aircraft, and the fleet's largest vessel since WWII the new helicopter carrier the Izumo. While smaller than it's IJN predecessor, Japan's JMSDF is powerful capable force that will soon see the addition of the Izumo Class Helicopter carrier KAGA that will meet the growing security challenges in the region.
The following is a direct speech from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe:
Surrounded by the sea, and living thanks to the sea. Japan is a nation that regards the safety of the seas as its own safety. Today I attended a naval review. I was all the more impressed seeing the valiant figures of our “personnel defending us out on the sea,” whose accuracy and precision are unrivaled in spite of the large waves out in the open sea. The Self-Defense Forces, who single-mindedly continue to defend the peace of Japan while braving the angry seas, overcoming air turbulence, or becoming covered in mud. Those who join the SDF take their own decision to walk down paths where they take up difficult posts. They are the pride of Japan.As the Commander-in-Chief of the SDF, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the families of the SDF members for sending their beloved spouses and children out into the field.

Monday, October 12, 2015

What if Harada Sanosuke Survived Past 1868?

This is the premise we explored in our earlier epic The Soldier and the Samurai. To read more Click Here