"There is so much writing in English on Japanese cinema that can't be accepted at face value — not because the writers are careless, but because the differences in culture and language are just too intricate. When I see August Ragone's name on a piece of writing, it gives me permission to place my faith in it completely. Among Japanese fantasy film historians, he's the best working in English." —Tim Lucas, Video Watchdog

Thursday, July 10, 2008

July 10, 1901-January 25, 1970


Tsuburaya at the official press junket for ULTRAMAN, 1966.

The “Father of Japanese Special Visual Effects” was born on July 10, 1901 as Eiichi Tsuburaya in the town of Sukagawa, Fukushima. As with his life, even his date of birth is steeped in legend — official sources have often listed that Eiji Tsuburaya was born on July 7th — a date of fortune in the celebration of Tanabata (meaning “Seven Evenings”), a Japanese star festival derived from the Obon (a celebration of ancestors). Tanabata is usually celebrated on July 7th or August 7th, to commemorate the meeting of Orihime (Vega) and Hikoboshi (Altair).

Tanabata originated from the Chinese Festival to Plead for Skills (Oi Xi), which came to Japan in the Heian Period (795-1192), and spread to the public during the Edo Period (1603-1867), where it was then combined with Obon traditions. From the Edo Period, girls wished for better sewing and craftsmanship skills, while boys wished for better calligraphy skills, by writing wishes on strips of tanzaku paper, which were hung on bamboo trees. This tradition is still practiced today in Japan.

Even if Eiji Tsuburaya was not born on July 7th, the myth of being born on the Tanabata certainly was apt, because Tsuburaya would become famous for his multiple artistic and practical skills, which he had in spades — and eventually, the name Tsuburaya would become world-renown with the production of GODZILLA (1954).


Mr. Karswell said...

Happy Birthday Eiji! I'll have to add a tribute to my blog as well, this guy is a major hero of mine.

Unknown said...

August, it was nice meeting you at G-FEST last week.

Eiji Tsuburaya is forever our hero. I wish I could meet and talk to him today...

It was 70th Birthday of Tetsuo Kinjo on July 5th. I like a photo of Kinjo with Tsuburaya family on your "Eiji Tsuburaya" book. I believe he was indeed a member of the family.

August Ragone said...

It was nice meeting you as well! Yes, I feel that Mr. Kinjo was an extremely talented writer, with a keen imagination and contributed much to founding the Ultra Series. He and Hajime Tsuburaya made a great team.

I wanted to give him a birthday memorial on my blog, but was too caught up in preparing for G-Fest. I will make sure to do so next year.


John W. Morehead said...

Ah, Ultra Man! How this brings back fond childhood memories. Thanks for this post. And now if you'll excuse me, the light on my chest is blinking so I must fly up to the sun to recharge my energies.

Unknown said...

Well, nice blog. Thanks for the info shared here about the Godzilla. I use to collect the Godzilla toys and its action figures.

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