Wanted! More readers like Takeshi Yoshioka!
This past July, actor Takeshi Yoshioka, who starred as Gamu Takayama in Tsuburaya Productions' popular 1998 television series, ULTRAMAN GAIA, visited the US with his wife, Aiko, of the twin pop act, Flip-Flap. The couple was married in 2009, and spent two years planning their Honeymoon vacation — landing in New York, and on to stops in Nigara Falls, Chicago, and Florida. From there, they rented a car and drove though the South to California, including stops in San Francisco and Southern California. Since this wasn't a professional visit, we were asked not to promote or advertise their trip, or to organize any fan meetings — this was their Honeymoon, after all.
My cohort, Dave Chapple (not to be confused with the slightly more famous comedian of nearly the same name), was contacted about their their trip and arrival in California, and was told to take care of them. After the couple's visit to San Francisco, including an afternoon at Japantown, the Yoshioka's headed south to Palm Springs to spend five days at Casa de Chapple. In 2005, Godzilla suit actor, Tsutomu "Tom" Kitagawa, stayed with Dave for the same stretch, while he was in the US promoting GODZILLA FINAL WARS (which is a completely different story that needs to be told). Dave's reputation for his intuitive understanding of Japanese customs and decorum is well-known among many tokusatsu actors and their agents in Japan, so it is no surprise that he was entrusted with hosting the Yoshiokas at his home in Palm Springs.
While at Casa de Chapple, Dave entertained the Yoshiokas and visited some of the great restaurants and hot spots which Palm Springs is renown for (and if you've ever been to Palm Springs, you know how hot it can be). Part of their plan, while staying with Dave, was to visit Hollywood, San Diego and Tijuana. Since Dave was well aware of their tight schedule, he suggested an alternative: a trip Big Bear Lake and Lake Arrowhead would perhaps be a better trip, with the few remaining days they had left in the US. The couple agreed, and so Dave drove them up to Big Bear Mountain for the day, which they said that they would never forget. Departing Dave's house, the couple still ended up sightseeing in Hollywood on the way to Los Angeles International Airport. The Yoshioka's had a blast on their American journey, and they thanked Dave for making it even better with his hospitality and humor — Dave's just that cool.
It's not everyone that can say that Ultraman Gaia swam in their pool!
My treasured autograph from Takeshi Yoshioka!
Visit Tsuburaya Productions' official ULTRAMAN GAIA page!