5.1.2021 (updated 5.25.2021)

In my youth, I was mesmerized by Eiji Tsuburaya. Now in my adulthood, I’m very interested in Toho Producer Tomoyuki Tanaka. This is the first of several books from which I would like to translate portions about his life. Book details from Amazon Japan: Tomoyuki Tanaka, a major producer in the Japanese film industry who worked on “Godzilla” and Kurosawa’s works. Looking back on the movie life of his teacher. This is also the history of postwar Japanese cinema from the perspective of the producer. This book is written by Fumio Tanaka (田中文雄, September 22, 1941 – April 12, 2009), film producer. He was associate producer for “Godzilla” (1984) and also co-produces films with Tomoyuki Tanaka. He was a professional novelist, writing many fantasy, horror, and mystery novels, including the novelization for “Godzilla vs King Ghidorah” (1991). He also goes by the pen names Mitsuru Takihara (滝原満 Takihara Mitsuru) and Keiichiro Kusanagi (草薙圭一郎 Kusanagi Keiichiro).

The translations will be rough at times. Mistakes are my own. The translation will be corrected and improved over time. My apologies. Where needed I’ve provided further details set in brackets [ ].

オール怪獣写真図鑑 ゴジラ神を放った男

The Man who set loose the God Godzilla
Filmmaker Tomoyuki Tanaka and his time

田中文雄 Fumio Tanaka
キネマ旬報社 Kinema Junpo

田中友幸 (たなか ともゆき)


Inside jacket cover

Tomoyuki Tanaka

Tomoyuki Tanaka was born on the 26th of April, Meiji 43 [1910] in Osaka. He joined Toho Film Co., Ltd. in 1945, and made his debut as a producer in his 17th year. He has produced more than 200 pieces to this day including SF special effects movies such as “Godzilla,” “Radon,” “Mothra,” “The Mysterians,” “Atragon,” and “Japan Sinks”; war movies such as “Pacific Storm,” “Kisuka,” “Isoroku Yamamoto,” “Battle of the Japan Sea,” and “Imperial Navy,” “Yojimbo,” “Heaven and Hell,” and Akira Kurosawa’s works such as “Kagemusha,” and “Snow Trail”; action movies such as “The Last Gunfight,” entertainment works such as “The Human Revolution” and “Hakodasan.” His latest work is “Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla.” Currently, he is the Chairman of the Board of Toho Pictures, Inc., Vice Chairman of the Japan Academy Prize Association, and Chairman of the Board of Japan Creative Planning Co., Ltd. He was formerly the chairman of the All Nippon Producers Association of Japan. He received the Order of the Sacred Treasure in 56 and the Fujimoto Award in 1992.

Dedicate this book to Mr. Ryozo Kasahara

[Ryozo Kasahara (d. 6/22/2002) was a screenwriter and actor known for “Blind Fury” (1989), “Zatoichi Challenged” (1967) and “Nippon ichi no iro otoko” (1963). Source: IMBd]

Table of contents

序章 日本映画界の最長老 …… 8
Preface: The oldest person in the Japanese film industry …… 8
What is a producer

第一章 勝利の日まで …… 13
Chapter 1 Until the day of victory …… 13
Pre-war Toho

第二章 ジャコ萬と鉄 …… 41
Chapter 2 Jakoman to Tetsu …… 41
Post-war turmoil

第三章 ゴジラ …… 59
Chapter 3 Godzilla …… 59
Pioneering special effects movies

第四章 地球防衛軍 …… 87
Chapter 4 Global Defense Force …… 87
The era of cinemascope

第五章 三大怪獣 地球最大の決戦 …… 125
Chapter 5 Ghidorah, Three‑Headed Monster …… 125
Golden Age Toho Producer

第六章 日本のいちばん長日 …… 173
Chapter 6 Japan’s Longest Day …… 173
Producer air battle!

第七章 決戦!南海の大怪獣 …… 207
Chapter 7 Space Amoeba …… 207
Tomoyuki Tanaka at the turning point

第八章 日本沈没 …… 235
Chapter 8 Japan Sinks …… 235
Establishment of blockbuster routes

第九章 さよならジュピター …… 235
Chapter 9 Sayonara Jupiter …… 235
An era of encounters with the unknown

第十章 再びゴジラへ …… 235
Chapter 10 Return to Godzilla …… 235
A country of gods

あとがき …… 310
Afterword …… 310

田中友幸製作作品一邁表 …… 317
A table of works produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka …… 317

第三章: 特撮映画の開拓
Chapter 3: Pioneering special effects movies


The movies have entered the golden age, and Tomoyuki Tanaka is now a leading figure in Toho production. And “Farewell Rabaul” and “Godzilla” were in it.

[Farewell Rabaul is a black-and-white 1954 Japanese film directed by Ishirō Honda]

1 (P. 60)


On May 7, 1993, I attended the Keio party of Tomomi Oi with director Jun Fukuda and special effects director Teruyoshi Nakano. Oi is currently working at Tsuburaya Productions. The bride, Sun, wants to be an illustrator. She is a couple of nerds like the one in the picture.


Oi is a self-proclaimed “reporter” of the “Nitto Shimbun”, a gathering of special effects movie fans. “Nitto Shimbun” is a newspaper company that appears in “Mothra” (published in 1958), and I there was also a group that once named “Mainichi Shimbun” that appears in “Mothra vs. Godzilla” (39).


Mitsuo Omura, who is the one who managed the party, is the publisher and theorist of the same “Nitto Shimbun.” Omura is the leader of the group, partly because he is older. The theme song of “Enken’s Tobisuke Adventure Travel”, which he sings while playing the guitar, is excellent. Having worked from the father of a bar to Tekiya, he currently runs a greengrocer called “Earth shop” in Ichikawa City, and the name of the light truck for business is “Gotengo” taken from “Undersea Warship” (38).


With Omura taking the lead, every summer and winter, there is a lively sake-only rally in which several special effects movie fan clubs are united. The venue is the second floor of an izakaya called Wadaya in Higashijujo, or the Yangshu restaurant, which is a small restaurant in Koiwa but is known to foodies.

[Izakaya is a type of informal Japanese bar that serves alcoholic drinks and snacks. Izakaya are casual places for after-work drinking, similar to a British or Irish pub, Spanish tapas bar, and American saloon and tavern. Source: Wikipedia]


When I was still involved in the production of the resurrection “Godzilla” (59), Oi came to the studio as one of the fans, and Tomoyuki Tanaka also attended their gathering in Shibuya. Such things continued several times, and Teruyoshi Nakano, Director of Special Effects, and I, Jun Fukuda, and Koji Hashimoto (currently director of Toho Pictures, Inc.) who was the director of the “Godzilla Returns” gathered. Came to be called. It’s a fun gathering and always welcomes us with the theme of “The War in Space” (52). This is because I participated in the production of the movie, which was a combination of director Jun Fukuda and special effects director Teruyoshi Nakano.


As a sideshow, the launch scene of “Atragon” was performed, and the scene where a mysterian disk crashed by blowing cigarette smoke into two pieces of ash blood was performed. Akihiko Hirata is a member of Godzilla’s fan club “G Conference,” showing the momentary art of the blue general. Mr. Moge, also known as Tomomitsu Nakade, has been regarded as a drinking staff since the foundation of the association. Kenritsu Imai • Yuka and his wife were connected with each other. Daisuke Ishizuka of Higashimurayama publishes a personal magazine that collects data such as “Espy Encyclopedia” and “The War in Space.” Some have become professionals, such as Masaharu Amiya, an anime scenario writer, and Yu Hayakawa, who writes the “Kinema Junpo” column. Former Toei producer Toru Hirayama and actor Kenji Ushio (who died suddenly due to liver cirrhosis on September 19), such as “Kamen Rider” and “Message from Space,” also appear.


Here, foreign films such as “Terminator” are not so much evaluated, and Guy Tucker, an American special effects freak who loves sake, takes an interview of the old work in terrifying Japanese and returns to Japan and publishes it in fan magazines. According to Asahi Sonorama’s editor, Masashi Ueoka, Sonorama also had a lot of photos. Even if Tucker returns to Japan, he makes an international call asking, “Mr. Tanaka, how are you?” He seems to be rushing to Yoshio Tsuchiya and his friends.


Jo’s fun gathering will be in 1993, the 10th anniversary of its founding. I think the reason why the group of special effects movie lovers came for so long was that they had no rules, let alone a chairman, and they came with the freedom to decide the name of the society. Young people who were teenagers at the beginning can reach thirty, and some have already reached it. The number of new faces is increasing at each gathering. Singles are united and children grow up. The number of white swords here will increase, and despite the sluggishness of Japanese movies, the reason for the association’s existence may be that it is immersed in past special effects movies. The passage of time makes the memories of special effects movies, especially Toho special effects movies, shine. For them, the “Godzilla” experience was youth itself -— and for me too.

2 (P. 63)


On November 3, 1945, on the first day of the release of “Godzilla,” Tanaka saw a long line from the front of Hachiko to Miyamasuzaka when he got off Shibuya Station. I wondered what he was and he was connected to Shibuya Toho. “I noticed that the customers who came to see” Godzilla “were still there, and a wave of emotional shock ran through my body,” Tanaka later said in interviews and articles here and there.


It goes without saying that the role that this blockbuster played in the subsequent development of special effects movies and the acquisition of foreign currency is immeasurable. However, at that time, newspapers and intellectuals treated the movie “Godzilla” as a get-together. The “Yomiuri Shimbun” dated July 5, 19th, under the heading “Getting things, passing through the movie world,” deals with “a mysterious adventure battle all at once.”

[The Yomiuri Shimbun (読売新聞) is a Japanese newspaper published in Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, and other major Japanese cities.]


Even if I went overseas, if I went to the first or second movie of “Godzilla”, it was sold out instead of a commission system because Japanese movies were still sparse in copyright, and it was not a big profit. The American right to Godzilla was bought by a former Columbia Pictures man named Goldman who used Raymond Burr, who was the culprit in Hitchcock’s Rear Window, to add new scenes. I cut off the part of Japanese actor and made it into a complete “American movie.” It is said that the number of sealed prints exceeded 100. Thanks to this, Japanese movies, which had been screened in a single theater until then, are now on the American release chain. I made big publicity on TV, radio and newspapers, and I knew the screening in a week. It can be said that it was regarded as seasonal goods in the United States.

The history of Godzilla’s birth was as follows.


“Farewell Rabaul” produced in 1945 was the first war movie with Ishiro Honda and Eiji Tsuburaya. Tanaka stepped on that special effects could be done. Subsequently, Tanaka plans a collaborative film with Indonesia. It was a story of a former Japanese soldier who devoted himself to the Indonesian independence movement, starring Ryo Ikebe and Yoshiko Deguchi called “Behind the Glory.” Jun Fukuda and Kihachi Okamoto were still group directors. However, after finishing the staff formation, just before the departure of the location team, the entry visa was not issued and the production was canceled. This was because the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs opposed the collaboration because diplomatic relations had not yet recovered.

[“Farewell Rabaul” is a black-and-white 1954 Japanese film directed by Ishiro Honda. Ryo Ikebe (February 1918 – 8 October 2010) was a Japanese actor. He graduated from Rikkyo University and originally wanted to be a director, but ended up debuting as an actor at Tōhō in 1941. Kihachi Okamoto (February 17, 1924 – February 19, 2005) was a Japanese film director who worked in several different genres.]


We must hurry and consider alternative schemes to take advantage of the staffing. Unknowingly, Tanaka had the Indonesian sea in his head. The nuclear test of Bikini Atoll is crowded with newspapers from the cage. So let’s assume. What if a dinosaur is sleeping on the seabed near the Bikini Reef and comes back to Japan due to the effects of a nuclear test and announces an abnormality? Tentative title “The Monster from 20,000 Undersea.” (This tentative title is the same as the original title of the American movie “The Best from 20,000 Fathoms” directed by Eugène Lourié, which was released the previous year. It may have been unknowingly in Tanaka’s head). When I put this on a planning meeting, it caught the eye of the director in charge of production, Iwao Mori.

[Iwao Mori (February 27, 1899–May 14, 1979) was a Japanese film producer.]


There were many children’s tricks, but Iwao Mori strongly recommended this work. After making a rough setting, I asked Shigeru Kayama, a writer who was popular in mysterious fantasy novels at the time, to make a novel. When the story was completed, Eiji Tsuburaya participated at this stage, and when director Ishiro Honda was decided, Takeo Murata, who was an assistant director at the time, was included in the script production. In order to hide the contents, I printed the script as “G Work” and started shooting. At that time, there was a section chief in the drama club with the nickname of Gujira, which was a mixture of gorillas and kushira, and I came up with Gojira [Godzilla] from there. Tanaka says. Iwao Mori said that an employee named Shiro Amikura was nicknamed Gojira, so he was allowed to use it. (From “Toho March” by Tadashi Saito).

[Takeo Murata (1949) was born in Susaki and is a smith from the Japanese island of Shikoku near Kochi. He belongs to the top of the Japanese knife makers.]


When I calculate back, I was watching “Gojira” when I was in the first year of junior high school, but I don’t remember being surprised at all.


Around that time, there were movie theaters in Utsunomiya City. Since [the movie] changes every week, if you watch one by one every day, they will go around, and there was “Godzilla” as one that you watched every day like [eating] food three times [a day]. It was natural that the world of cinema was a dream world, and it didn’t matter to me, a small audience, whether it was a special effect or how hard it was. It was fun and natural.

[Utsunomiya is a city on Japan’s main Honshu island.]


However, before I knew it, “Godzilla” sneaked into my head and defined my way of life after that.


Although it was mistaken for “Oxygen Destroyer”, the smoky name stuck to my head, and the traces of the diving clothes worn by Akira Takarada and the fish that became bones in the aquarium burned into my eyes. Odo Island was somehow converted to the name of Cape Muroto (maybe because I saw Shochiku’s “Times of Joy and Sorrow” dealing with the family of the lighthouse keeper), and registered in my head as a terrifying place for Godzilla to land. Momoko Kochi has been a cute actress of Godzilla until now. Looking at his eyepatch, Akihiko Hirata’s face now comes to mind.

[Times of Joy and Sorrow (喜びも悲しみも幾歳月) or The Lighthouse [Yorokobi mo kanashimi mo ikutoshitsuki ] is a 1957 color Japanese film produced by Shochiku and directed by Keisuke Kinoshita, who shot on location at 11 different lighthouses throughout Japan, including opening scenes at Kannonzaki, the site of the country’s first lighthouse. The Shochiku Company, Limited (松竹株式会社, Shochiku Kabushiki gaisha) is a Japanese film and kabuki production and distribution company.]


I think this was the best imprinting.


Previously, “Rodan” and “The Mysterians” followed, and this time the names Tomoyuki Tanaka, Ishiro Honda, and Eiji Tsuburaya came into my head naturally and came to stay in my head.


When I was a high school student, I was inspired by the movie “Picnic” and read William Inge’s play. I think it was translated by Taku Sugawara, but the heroine’s sly sister Milly’s “… like Godzilla” line came to my mind. I haven’t confirmed whether Godzilla was used in the original English text, but I was surprised that Godzilla had become such a common word in 1933 and 1945.


I would like to touch on Shigeru Kayama here.


After all, it is a pitiful word because many people read Kayama as Koyama these days. Kayama Shigeru and I were still superstars of the mysterious fantasy literary world with lofty ambition.


Shigeru Kayama is his real name, Koji Ideda. He was born in the 42nd year of the Meiji era and died in the 50th year of the Showa era. When he was in the Faculty of Economics at Hosei University, he was learning German from Hyakken Uchida. He dropped out for financial reasons and worked for the Ministry of Finance Deposit Department. He was selected for “Revenge of Orang Pendek” in the first prize novel recruitment for “Jewelry” in 1947. The following year, he won the Detective Writers Club Award for “Kainisodan”. He will be a writer.

[“The revenge of orang penned” by Kayama Shigeru was published in Hoseki (Gem) in April 1947. The stories are of anthropological interest, beginning with the premise that a lost race of people have survived in the jungles of Sumatra. The setting is not very far distant from the setting of King Kong. (Source: Japanese Science Fiction: A View of a Changing Society by Robert Matthew]

More to come