Tuesday, February 13, 2007

HEnnnNSHhhIIIIiiiiiiinnnnNNnnn!!









Here's a bit of Tokosatsu history.

These rare photos of a Kamen Rider super-hero show were taken at Korakuen Amusement Park, Tokyo, Japan, by my dad, in the Spring of 1975. I'm sitting just out of camera range.

My family (parents, me and my sister) lived in Japan from July 1974-June 1975 as my father had gotten a Fullbright Grant to do research in Japan for an Encyclopedia of Kabuki that he was writing. The eleven months we lived there had a huge impression on me...as anyone who knows me will readily attest. You can't see it in these shots, but I remember the characters were running along a catwalk under the big foaming head at top. You can see in one shot two Kamen Riders standing side by side on the catwalk.

The photo at the bottom is from earlier in 1975 with me wearing my Inazuman Flash Henshin belt...I'm in position to transform (Henshin in Japanese.) Unfortunately I don't have the belt anymore!

13 comments:

FrogDaddy said...

the thing is- the belt prolly still fits ya skinny bastid! awesome shots Justin! it must've been something to spend a bit of your childhood in such a foreign place...did you make any friends over there or was the language barrier too much?

The Keeper's Notes said...

Holy smokes..I'm still reediting this post and a comment already! The magic of the internet!!

It was really amazing living there...from passing by bakeries selling chocolate covered crickets to the fish markets to all the candy, the amazing toys...my sister and I spent the first two months of the school year in a Japanese school (which I reviisted in Jan 1999), and I basically just drew in my notebook all day (pretty much what I did in my classes in the states, too...)I did make friends with the kids there, but just within school..I can't even remember how we might have communicated. After two months we were given the choice of staying at the Japanese school or transferring to ASIJ (American School In Japan), which was an hour bus ride out of Tokyo (compared to a walk down the hill to the local public school). We opted for ASIJ. It was a sprawling campus, much like a College one, with a few buildings and grades up thru JHS, I think. My sister was in 6th grade and I was in 2nd. My class was actually paired with another...at times they would draw a wall between the two sides, like in a hosptial, but most of the time, we had two teachers, in one very large room, teaching two classes. I made some friends there, as most of the kids were fron the US, and some European countries. I remember hanging out with one kid at his apartment away from school. I also used to sometimes play with the kids that lived in our apartment building.

Lou said...

wow! and you still play with your friends to this day! LOL! very cool pics Justin. nice to see a peek at your childhood..must of been exciting..loking back at it now huh? Ever think of living there again?

The Keeper's Notes said...

and..I still play with my toys!!!

Yeh, I'd love to live there again..or at the very least go back for a couple of weeks. Since 1975, I've been back, twice..for a week each in Jan. '99 and May 2000...not enough time...it's truly an amazing place.

Everybody's gotta be in a Gang said...

Those sets are so bizarre.

Did you feel like a star when you were in the Japanese school?
When I visited my brother who was teaching over there in 1989, one of the other teachers that we were out drinking with invited me to his class the next day. When I went there, one girl saw me as soon as I entered the school and was freaked out and ran in the other direction. They were not used to seeing caucasians. I never went to the class- I didn't want that much attention.

The Keeper's Notes said...

My sister and I were definitely known in the school...we were the only caucasians there, of course...I wonder if that school has ever had any other ones over the years. Most of the kids treated us well..I don't really know about my sister's experiences (I'm gonna have to ask her, now that I think about it), but I was treated well, except for one bully in the 6th grade, who went looking for me on a fairly regular basis. I remember one day hiding under some desks when he came looking to beat me up. The other kids tried to protect me.

On our last day there, all the kids in my class (and I'm assuming my sister's) gave us presents...just little things...I remember getting some toy cars...things that were the kids own toys and stuff. I think I've still got a couple of those cars.

FrogDaddy said...

On your last day of school, did one of the girl classmates come up to you and tie a bandana around your head and say:
"You not forget me Rambo..."?

Greg said...

Great stuff, Justin...

I promise to bring you back a little something Kamen-Riderish the next time I head out there...

I keep forgetting to look for that sort of stuff when I'm actually there... you know, I get sorta "distracted" with my own interests!

By the way, that last shot of you getting ready to transform into Inazuman Flash is AWESOME!!!
It's too bad that Tokusatsu code requires you to keep all images of your hero exploits secret... otherwise, I'd love to have seen seen photos of you fighting the Shockers as a young boy-hero!

On the other hand... using that super-powered belt all the time as a child might have actually stunted your growth...

OMG... that explains EVERYTHING!

The Keeper's Notes said...

Glenn: Yes. Due to the time dilation effect of living in Japan, they actually got to see First Blood in 1965, hence upon my leaving the school in 1974, they thought it was a cute joke.

Greg: Thanks, man. When is the next time you're going back? Let me know...maybe you'll have some company - if you want it.

You're right, though, all photos taken of me beating the living shit out of Shocker monsters (and their ensuing blowing up) have been held under top secret lock and key by Toho Co, Ltd.

And, yes, it possibly stunted my growth, but only vertically goddamn it! I think it has something to do with the negative and positive electrons involved in the transforming process.

Btw, if anyone here is at all interested, I've added some old photos from Japan on my myspace page, which can be found at:

http://www.myspace.com/justinleighleiter

Charles said...

Every time you bring this stuff up i envy you, J!!
i've had similar interests in Japanese culture
and would love to visit one day!!! Great post!!!

Everybody's gotta be in a Gang said...

Time for a new post

The Keeper's Notes said...

how right you are!!

FrogDaddy said...

everytime i read the word "HenshhhiiiiiinnnnnNNNnn" at the top of the post, I'm reminded of the way Mikey Z used to say Jim Henson's last name, and speaking of which- Mikey Z's 40th birthday party's this Thursday at Jack Dempsey's...Be nice to lift one with the old school....sorry for advertising on your blog Justin...post something new quick!