Kaiju Life

by Armand Vaquer

When I finalized my plans for a trip to Japan to promote The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan, I contacted Sonoe Nakajima, the daughter of the original Godzilla suit-actor Haruo Nakajima, and invited them to lunch or dinner while I was in Tokyo.

Sonoe Nakajima wrote back and said that they were going on a vacation trip at the time of my vacation in Japan and wouldn't be available. She did say that she would have a copy of her father's book, Kaiju Life (Kaiju Jinsei) that was published by Yosensha Co., Ltd. for me at my hotel, Hotel Asia Center of Japan.

I arrived late in the afternoon on Sunday, December 5 at the hotel. When I checked in, the clerk went to the back room and brought out a package saying it was from "Nakajima." I knew immediately that it was the book Sonoe said she'd leave for me. After I got settled in my room, I opened the package and there was the book and autographed "To Armand" with his signature and the date "2010.12.3" (December 3, 2010).

The book itself is an attractive softcover edition with a jacket. The book is in Japanese, but it contains many rare photographs of Mr. Nakajima in action as Godzilla and other monsters in Toho's stable as well as his private life and history. Some are in color on slick paper, the rest are in black & white and on non-slick paper. They are all well reproduced regardless. The number of photos Mr. Nakajima included in his book rivals the number contained in August Ragone's book on special effects pioneer Eiji Tsuburaya. There's that many of them!

Although the book is in Japanese, and I don't read Japanese, I would have bought a copy anyway just for the photographs. Fans of Godzilla and Mr. Nakajima would find this book essential to their collections.

In return, I left copies of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan for the Nakajimas.

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