Hot on the monster’s tail: meeting Godzilla ゴジラ in Tokyo

On my first visit to Japan I naively assumed I would encounter Godzilla paraphernalia everywhere. This misunderstanding can be traced to my complete ignorance of Japanese pop culture; not only did I not follow current trends in manga or anime, but I hadn’t even heard of such icons as Doraemon ドラえもん, Ultraman ウルトラマン, Anpanman アンパンマン, or Sazae-san…

From train to tree: Golden Gai, Toden streetcar, and Shinjuku Promenade Park

Whenever I watch an old Japanese film. I see all these terrific scenes of old Tokyo and just have to know where they were filmed. Sometimes it’s obvious, other times it isn’t. The other day I was watching a compelling yakuza movie,「無頼」より 大幹部 Burai yori daikanbu (1968), aka Outlaw: Gangster VIP. It stars Tetsuya Watari 渡 哲也, the handsome…

Satoko Kitahara, Maria of Ants Town 蟻の町のマリア

(1) Ants Villa and Mary of Ants Town This post is about a name and a place. The name is Satoko Kitahara 北原怜子  a.k.a. “Mary of Ants Town” (1929-1958). The place is 蟻の街, Ari-no-machi, meaning “Ants Villa”, “Ants Town”, “City of Ants”, etc. Ants Town was formed in the wake of World War 2 as a legal cooperative to house and…

Yotsuya: Wisdom on the hill 山の上の上智 (1955, 2013)

A traditional Japanese house nestled in the hills of Kamakura provides a tranquil setting for Sound of the Mountain 山の音 (Yama no Oto), a 1954 family drama directed by Mikio Naruse 成瀬 巳喜男. Like the house, the elderly mother and father are slowly and steadily aging, following routines established over the course of years. Living…