Coming Full Circle: Takuma Sato, the Indy 500, and Godzilla

by Brian Scherschel

Since the beginning, Kaijuvision Radio has had a unique mission.  Hence the emphasis on culture, history, and global issues.

This mission carries over into social media.  There are plenty of sources on Godzilla-related news already.  Why devote time to duplicating what’s already out there?  Everyone’s seen the latest “King of the Monsters screenshot”.  Not everyone knows about what’s going on in the South China Sea.

That’s why I post about Japanese history, current events in East Asia, and Japan-related stories of local interest.  Just because something isn’t directly related to Godzilla, it has to do with the show’s mission.

Takuma Sato won the Indianapolis 500 in 2017.  He’s the first Japanese man (and thee first Asian man) to do this.  He made history.  Kaijuvision is produced in Fort Wayne.  So, I decided there should be an article about this historical event.  It’s a story of local interest.

After all, there are two connections to the Indianapolis 500 in Godzilla movies.  In All Monsters Attack (1969), Ichiro’s bully wears an Indianapolis 500 shirt.  In the episode on that film, I said how that’s maybe a reference to the give-and-take relationship that the US and Japan have on some issues.  The second connection is in Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973).  Hiroshi drives a car that has an Indianapolis 500 sticker on the window.  See the original blog post about Takuma Sato here.

Similarly, sports figure Hideki Matsui is nicknamed Godzilla.  Matsui had his own cameo in Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002).

It turns out there’s much more of a connection to Godzilla than previously known.  A visitor to Kaijuvision.com sent these pictures via a comment on the original Takuma Sato blog post:

Source: Rob McEwen

Source: Rob McEwen

That’s so cool!!

Ever since 1954, Godzilla has been an expression of the Japanese National Spirit, just like Sato’s achievement is.

So two years later, the connection between Godzilla and Takuma Sato’s win at the Indy 500 has come full circle!

Kaijuvision Radio Published in Nippon Quarterly – Fort Wayne’s Japanese Language Newsletter

by Brian Scherschel

As you know, Kaijuvision is headquartered in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  The local Japanese language newsletter in town is called the “Nippon Quarterly”, and they published Brian’s description of our podcast – AND they translated it into Japanese!

The Nippon Quarterly’s motto is “Everything Japanese in the Fort Wayne Area”, and is edited by Michele Yamanaka.  The newsletter is sponsored by the Japanese-American Association of Indiana, Inc. (JASI), a 501(c)(3) non-profit founded in 1988.  The JASI also sponsors the yearly Cherry Blossom Festival in Fort Wayne, which Nate and I visited this summer.

You can learn more about the JASI and their mission here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/japanindiana/about/?ref=page_internal

One of Kaijuvision’s goals is promoting cultural understanding between the United States and Japan, one of our most important allies in East Asia and the world.  Yes, our podcast is about kaiju and other Japanese movies, but as our listeners know, we do so much more than that.

And the newsletter page looks so nice!

 

 

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 Kaijuvision Radio.  Just as I was planning a podcast emphasizing the connection between the Godzilla franchise and international affairs, this masterpiece was delivered to me on a silver platter.  This episode is our masterpiece.  After our film description, part two is my 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.

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

 

“The Big Picture” written by Brian Scherschel

Host: Brian Scherschel

Co-Host: 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

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 Brian and Nate 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

 

Host: Brian Scherschel

Co-Host: 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

All Rights Reserved