@@A Chance Encounter Messages
Reviewing the message posted by Hiroshi Takeuchi on this website, I was surprised to see that he had written about an episode that happened during my first trip to Japan, a day that was one of the most memorable in my life.

It is almost 30 years ago to the day that I made my first trip to Japan. It was July of 1979, and the first thing I learned about visiting Japan was that July is not the time to visit...it is unrelentingly hot and humid, and on top of it, July is also rainy season. But that discomfort was a small price to pay for the incredible experience we had at that time. Having almost no contacts in Japan prior to my trip, my friend Bill Gudmundson asked his Japanese correspondent Saki Hijiri if he could arrange a visit to Toho Studios for us. In the letter which Saki wrote back to us was the first of several interesting and ultimately amusing experiences that highlighted the difficulties of communicating across languages, "For a visit to Toho, unfortunately it's ok." Everything should be so unfortunate...

Upon arriving in Japan, we met with Kazuo Sumiya and Hiroshi Takeuchi, who would take us first to Tsuburaya Productions, and the following day to Toho Studios. While we struggled to communicate verbally, the universal language of monsters helped us get by. But before visiting Toho, we were told not to expect much since sf films were not being made and nothing remained from them. For me, that was ok...it was already enough to see the actual place where so many of my favorite films and memories were made. Well, a slight but happy miscommunication was revealed the next morning as we made our way to the back of the lot and entered a small, rundown building and were introduced to Toshiro Aoki, a member of the sfx department (who ironically I would meet again nearly 25 years later and get to know much better). In this building we came face to face with several old monster costumes and props, most in advanced stages of decomposition. But no matter, our impossible dream of seeing the real Godzilla and his brethren was suddenly and unexpectedly realized. It was an exhilarating experience.

But later the day took another unexpected turn. As Mr Takeuchi guided us around the studio grounds, pointing out places like Eiji Tsuburaya's old office, we approached the front gate. Mr Takeuchi briefly disappeared, and when he came back, he was accompanied by someone who I instantly recognized...director Ishiro Honda! I'd heard the expression "you could have knocked me over with a feather" many times, but not until that moment could I ever truly understand what it meant. It was at this moment that my regret at not knowing more than a handful of words of Japanese increased a hundred-fold, although I think I was so awe-struck and unprepared that it probably would not have mattered if I was fully fluent in Japanese. I was speechless, overwhelmed. Here I was, shaking hands with and greeting the director of the films that probably were the most influential on my life. I had a million questions I wanted to ask, but hardly a word could come to my lips. I never even considered this a possibility...after all, Mr Honda had retired from making films, so the studio would be the last place I would expect to see him.  But in those few moments, even with the language barrier between us, I could sense the warmth of his personailty, and he seemed pleased to meet with us. Although I was unaware of it at the time, our encounter was quite brief because he was in the middle of a meeting at that very moment with Akira Kurosawa (if Kurosawa had also walked out the door to meet us, I may have fainted...due to the heat, of course). Our meeting may have been just a few minutes, but they are minutes that are indelibly etched into my memory. My great thanks go to Mr Takeuchi for helping me to fulfill my dreams to meet both Godzilla and his creator, all on a steamy hot July afternoon in 1979.

6/26/09
Ed Godziszewski