I am an actor



I want to meet the author


“I am an actor” Kenpachiro Satsuma (57)


Text and photos by Ryota Akiyama


Dressed in costumes that can weigh over 100 pounds, they scatter and crush models of tanks and skyscrapers. It takes a lot of physical strength to move that Godzilla the way the audience expects. Height: 170, weight: 72 kilograms. Kenpachiro Satsuma is also a suit actor who has worked on nearly 10 Godzilla movies.


After moving to Tokyo from Kagoshima, he worked at a steel factory before stepping into the world of film. He has experience working in a large studio room, and writes about everything he has seen on movie sets during his nearly 40 years as an actor.


Rampage with North Korean Godzilla


The film depicts his life in extreme poverty, where he made ends meet through part-time jobs, to his recent life in which he is active beyond the framework of “Godzilla.'” One of his most unique experiences was appearing in the monster movie “Pulgasari” produced by North Korea, which was said to be a Godzilla movie. It is a controversial film whose release was delayed because the director defected in 1986, the year after it was filmed, and the first screening in Japan was delayed until 1998.


The shooting didn’t go as planned. In the Beijing studio, I punched the palace set while gasping for air in my costume, but it didn’t break in the slightest. I finally managed to break the protruding eaves by scooping them up from below.


In Pyongyang, there was also an “incident” in which a Japanese art staff member missed the bus returning from his studio to his accommodation. A North Korean staff member happened to be passing by the studio and took me on the subway to my dorm, but Japanese staff members were not allowed to ride the subway. The North Korean staff member reportedly disappeared the next day.


Although Godzilla is memorable because of his sweat and tears, “I can’t wear a costume anymore. Heisei Godzilla is heavier than any costume I’ve experienced. I only wear it for some events.”


Nowadays, he rarely appears in movies. Even so, he never forgets practicing swinging with a wooden sword and training with an iron array. (Wise Publishing / 1995 yen)