Eiji Tsuburaya, the Father of Ultraman was born 115 years ago!
The "Father of Japanese Special Visual Effects" was born on July 10, 1901 as Eiichi Tsumuraya in Sukagawa, Fukushima (according to the family register). 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 tradition of Tanabata (meaning "Seven Evenings"), a Japanese star festival derived from the celebration of ancestors, know as Obon. Celebrated on July 7th or August 7th, Tanabata commemorates 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.
A Japanese claiming they were born on the Tanabata, was akin to an American saying they were born on Independence Day. So, 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).
For more on the Old Man, order your copy of "Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters" (Chronicle Books), today!