2018 Fort Wayne Cherry Blossom Festival Recap

by Nathan Marchand

On May 20, Brian and I attended the Fort Wayne Cherry Blossom Festival, a local event that celebrates Japanese culture.  It was held at the main branch of the Allen County Public Library.  It’s essentially a free one-day convention.  This was the event’s 11th year.  As we’ve mentioned before, one of Fort Wayne’s sister cities is Takaoka, so it makes sense to hold a festival each year centered on Japan.  It was my second time at the event and Brian’s first.

As the event’s website proclaims, “Five hours…so little time and so much to do!”  That was definitely true.  We had to choose our activities carefully.

First, we watched a performance by Fort Wayne Taiko.  As explained on their website, “Taiko is a Japanese musical tradition that means ‘big drum.’ The large, hollow, skin-covered drums used in taiko are played vertically, horizontally or diagonally to create a range of vibrant rhythms. But taiko isn’t simply about sound. Its characteristic beat is achieved through choreographed arm movements, as drummers ‘dance’ their sticks from drum to drum.”  They’re the only such group in Fort Wayne and one of the few in the Midwest, which makes them unique in our area.  I love watching them. (Photo below by Nathan Marchand).

Next was the opening ceremony presided over by Fort Wayne’s mayor, Tom Henry, and Consul-General Naoki Ito.  After a quick lunch from some local Japanese restaurants, we watched a performance from the Minyo Club of Indianapolis.  Minyo is a style of Japanese folk music and dance originally practiced by people as they worked.

Minyo Club of Indianapolis.  (Photo by Brian Scherschel)

Next was one of the highlights of the day: the planting of a cherry blossom tree.  Consul-General Ito brought five that were to be planted all over the city, including one in front of the library.  Both he and Mayor Henry broke ground with shovels and Laura Stine of Laura Stine Gardens planted it.  (Photo below by Nathan Marchand).

Afterward, we had the privilege of meeting Ito-san and telling him about our podcast.  He seemed impressed with our work and told us to keep it up.  It was also one of the few times I’ve seen Brian starstruck, and it was for a Japanese diplomat! (Which, honestly, isn’t surprising if you know Brian).

Brian (left) with Ito and me (right) with Ito.  (Left photo by Nathan Marchand, right photo by Brian Scherschel)

We next saw Heartland Sings, a local vocal group, perform acapella versions of several video game and J-pop songs.  My favorite was their Super Mario Bros. medley.  Interestingly, they went from the festival to a local church to perform liturgical songs. (Photo below by Nathan Marchand).

After mingling with the vendors, we attended an event Brian wanted to make sure we didn’t miss: the tea ceremony.  This is a tradition that goes back centuries and involves the ceremonial preparation and presentation of a powdered green tea called matcha.  We were able to watch a condensed version of the ceremony while a young woman, who was a student of tea master, explained everything.  It was fascinating to watch.

The Japanese tea ceremony.  (Photo by Brian Scherschel)

Then we saw a martial arts demonstration by the Indianapolis Kendo Club.  I’ve long been interested in martial arts, so I always make sure to watch demonstrations like this.  I was surprised at how noisy kendo is, but even that has the purpose of releasing the practitioner’s energy.  The most thought-provoking thing I learned was that a strike in kendo is only to illustrate that the practitioner has already won the fight. (Photo below by Nathan Marchand).

Brian left after that, but I stuck around for the cosplay contest.  This featured a parade of anime and video characters.  The top three consisted of two Pokemon characters and a female rendition of the dragon Shenron from DragonBall. (Photo below by Nathan Marchand).

Overall, it was a fun and educational experience.  Not unlike our podcast!

 

Episode 37: Shin Godzilla (2016)

At last, it is time. Fasten your seat belts, kaiju fans.  It’s like this movie was made for our show.  Just as we were planning a podcast emphasizing the connection between the Godzilla franchise and international affairs, this masterpiece was delivered to us on a silver platter.  This episode is our masterpiece.  After our film description, part two is our opinion on the big picture of this incredible movie.  Part three is a detailed chronological rundown of the film, and we will tie it to the events of 3/11.  Our related topics are the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdowns.

This episode is dedicated to the victims of the 3/11 disaster, Plant Manager Masao Yoshida, the Fukushima 50, the U.S. service members who participated in Operation Tomodachi, U.S. Forces Japan, and the JSDF.

We’d like to send a shout-out to our patron Kyoei Toshi and Sean Stiff for pledging at the Kaiju Visionary level.  Thank you for your support!  We really appreciate it.

Go to our website next Wednesday (June 6) to learn what we have planned for future episodes.

MP3:

Introduction: 0:00 – 2:42

Part 1 – Film Description: 2:42 – 9:02

Part 2 – Opinion of the Big Picture: 9:02 – 1:04:45

Part 3 – Chronological Rundown: 1:04:45 – 3:10:52

Closing: 3:10:52 – End

 

Co-Hosts: Brian Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

Editor: Brian Scherschel

Video Location: Lincoln Tower and Allen County Courthouse, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Video: Brian Scherschel

Music: Audiophiliac (http://www.fiverr.com/audiophiliac)

Copyright Brian J. Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

All Rights Reserved

Episode 34: Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003)

Road to Shin Godzilla Month marches on with the final entry of the “Tezuka Trilogy,” a film that astonished Nate and Brian on the re-watch.  Nate was surprised that this direct sequel to the previous film—which disappointed him—actually made good use of Kiryu having the original Godzilla’s soul grafted to it.  Brian thinks the special effects are a loving tribute to the artistry of classic tokusatsu.  Also, Mothra has never looked as good as she does in this film.  Much like Mothra vs. Godzilla, this movie doesn’t attempt many new things, but it does them all well.  Our related topic is deflation in Japan.

We’d like to send a shout-out to our patrons Kyoei Toshi and Sean Stiff for pledging at the Kaiju Visionary level. Thank you for your support! We really appreciate it.

MP3:

Introduction: 0:00 – 1:44

Part 1 – Film Description: 1:44 – 8:08

Part 2 – Opinion and Discussion: 8:08 – 46:48

Part 3 – Related Topics: 46:48 – 1:12:72

Closing: 1:12:72 – End

 

Co-Hosts: Brian Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

Editor: Brian Scherschel

Video Location: South Side High School, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Video: Brian Scherschel

Music: Audiophiliac (http://www.fiverr.com/audiophiliac)

Copyright Brian J. Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

All Rights Reserved

Episode 33: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)

Road to Shin Godzilla Month has begun! We’re counting down to our big episode on Godzilla’s latest reboot, starting with the “Kiryu Saga.”  Brian and Nate get a little Siskel & Ebert-ish as they discuss the second entry in the “Tezuka Trilogy,” which features the third incarnation of Mechagodzilla.  The movie has great cinematography and characters and some fun kaiju action, but Nate thinks the story missed some great potential with its wonderful new concept for Mechagodzilla.  Since this film once again features a strong female lead, our related topics are women in the Godzilla films and the firing of Makiko Tanaka.

MP3:

Introduction: 0:00 – 1:41

Part 1 – Film Description: 1:41 – 7:11

Part 2 – Opinion and Discussion: 7:11 – 52:17

Part 3 – Related Topics: 52:17 – 1:46:51

Closing: 1:46:51 – End

 

Co-Hosts: Brian Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

Editor: Brian Scherschel

Video Location: Foster Park (St. Mary’s River), Fort Wayne, IN

Video: Brian Scherschel

Music: Audiophiliac (http://www.fiverr.com/audiophiliac)

Copyright Brian J. Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

All Rights Reserved

Episode 31: Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000)

Turn of the Millennium Month continues with the first of three Godzilla movies which are directed by Masaaki Tezuka and becomes the standard bearer for the Millennium Series. Brian proclaims that this movie is fantastic because Tezuka brings back many stylistic elements from the Showa series. Overall, we rate this movie as fun, smart, and ahead of its time. We pay particular attention to the Dimension Tide (the black hole gun), what Godzilla’s body slam in the fight is referencing, and how many of the Heisei issues have been fixed. Brian explains to Nate how this isn’t a revenge story (though our main character is motivated by revenge). Our related topics are Energy Use and Energy Independence in Japan and Prime Minister Mori’s gaffe.

MP3:

Introduction: 0:00 – 1:52

Part 1 – Film Description: 1:52 – 7:56

Part 2 – Opinion and Discussion: 7:56 – 1:09:22

Part 3 – Related Topics: 1:09:22 – 1:29:27

Closing: 1:29:27 – End

 

Co-Hosts: Brian Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

Editor: Brian Scherschel

Video Location: General Anthony Wayne Statue (Dedicated 1918), Freimann Square, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Video: Brian Scherschel

Music: Audiophiliac (http://www.fiverr.com/audiophiliac)

Copyright Brian J. Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

All Rights Reserved

Behind-the-Scenes Bonus Feature: Creating Our Film Descriptions

In 2016 and 2017, Brian and Nate spent a lot of time developing our original, signature, audience-focused film descriptions – an analysis tailored to kaiju movies in order to be able to compare these movies to each other. The goal is to to arm the listener with the facts, rather than just read a long, boring plot synopsis from a wiki site. Quick, focused, and to the point, the descriptions last an average of 5 minutes. In our first behind-the-scenes bonus feature, we discuss the process behind our state-of-the-art creation.

MP3:

Co-Hosts: Brian Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

Editor: Brian Scherschel

Video Location: Headwaters Park, St. Mary’s River, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Video: Brian Scherschel

Music: Audiophiliac (http://www.fiverr.com/audiophiliac)

Copyright Brian J. Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

All Rights Reserved

Episode 21: The Return of Godzilla (1984)

We begin our two-month journey into the Heisei series of Godzilla movies. Listen as Nate and Brian elevate this unforgettable and well-made film by explaining how Japan was in the middle of the Cold War tension of the early 80s. Our related topics are the acceleration of the Cold War, NATO’s Able Archer exercise, Korean Air Lines Flight 007, and the Three Mile Island Nuclear Accident.

We’d like to send a shout-out to our patrons Kyoei Toshi and Sean Stiff for pledging at the Kaiju Visionary level. Thank you for your support! We really appreciate it.

MP3:

Introduction: 0:00 – 2:43

Part 1 – Film Description: 2:43 – 7:57

Part 2 – Opinion and Discussion: 7:57 – 1:03:33

Part 3 – Related Topic: 1:03:33 – 2:00:12

Closing: 2:00:12 – End

 

Co-Hosts: Brian Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

Editor: Brian Scherschel

Video 1 Location: Foster Park (St. Mary’s River), Fort Wayne, Indiana

Video 1 Timestamp: 0:00:00 – 1:28:13

Video 2 Location: The Foliatum, Headwaters Park, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Video 2 Timestamp: 1:28:13 – 02:02:04

Video: Brian Scherschel

Music: Audiophiliac (http://www.fiverr.com/audiophiliac)

Copyright Brian J. Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

All Rights Reserved

Episode 20: Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)

The Showa Series (and ‘70s month) comes to an end in this week’s episode, wherein Nate gushes over one of his favorite Godzilla films. This is a “dark™” melodrama with complex characters, lots of explosions, incredible kaiju action—and alien invaders who almost undermine the movie’s tone. Listen as Nate argues the film’s merits to Brian by connecting it to C.S. Lewis (you read that right!). Since this is the final entry in the Showa Series, our related topics are Emperor Showa’s first visit to the United States in 1971, his first press conference in 1975, and the Yasukuni Shrine.

MP3:

Introduction: 0:00 – 2:13

Part 1 – Film Description: 2:13 – 7:57

Part 2 – Opinion and Discussion: 7:57 – 1:05:47

Part 3 – Related Topic: 1:05:47 – 1:52:50

Closing: 1:52:50 – End

 

Co-Hosts: Brian Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

Editor: Brian Scherschel

Video Location: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Bridge (St. Mary’s River), Fort Wayne, Indiana

Video: Brian Scherschel

Music: Audiophiliac (http://www.fiverr.com/audiophiliac)

Copyright Brian J. Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

All Rights Reserved

Episode 19: Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)

The first Mechagodzilla film is roughly a spoof of James Bond and a twist on The Planet of the Apes, only the apes are alien invaders! The soundtrack fits like a glove to this gloriously campy and fun movie, made to celebrate Godzilla’s 20th anniversary.  Because this movie features an Okinawan kaiju, King Caesar, our related topic is the history and culture of Okinawa. Join Nate and Brian as they continue on with 70s Month – every 70s movie in the series in just one month. This episode is dedicated to Shinichi Sekizawa.

MP3:

Introduction: 0:00 – 1:49

Part 1 – Film Description: 1:49 – 6:38

Part 2 – Opinion and Discussion: 6:38 – 51:43

Part 3 – Related Topic: 51:43 – 1:25:09

Closing: 1:25:09 – End

 

Co-Hosts: Brian Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

Editor: Brian Scherschel

Video Location: Lindenwood Cemetery, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Video: Brian Scherschel

Music: Audiophiliac (http://www.fiverr.com/audiophiliac)

Copyright Brian J. Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

All Rights Reserved

 

Episode 18: Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973)

For a long time, this movie retained a part where the director said “Action” at the beginning of a scene. That fact is an indication that this movie was rushed as well as a bit careless, but it’s not all bad – and it can be funny. So funny in fact, it was a popular episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Brian and Nate discuss the infamous car chase, Easter Island, superhero wrestling action, and everything else about this glorious train-wreck. Our related topic is the history and effects of nuclear testing.

MP3:

Introduction: 0:00 – 1:26

Part 1 – Film Description: 1:26 – 6:10

Part 2 – Opinion and Discussion: 6:10 – 48:58

Part 3 – Related Topic: 48:58 – 1:10:42

Closing: 1:10:42 – End

 

Correction: We originally said that the director said “Cut” at the end of a scene in the movie. He actually said “Action” at the beginning of a scene.

 

Co-Hosts: Brian Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

Editor: Brian Scherschel

Video Location: Lafayette Esplanade, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Video: Brian Scherschel

Music: Audiophiliac (http://www.fiverr.com/audiophiliac)

Copyright Brian J. Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

All Rights Reserved