G-FEST Celebrates 25th Anniversary with Stars in Godzilla Movies
• This year, G-FEST celebrated its 25th anniversary and
invited Akira Takarada, a big star in Godzilla movies, but he had to forgo
coming to Chicago to save his energy for a show in August after he got
a sick although he had fully recovered from the illness. So Takarada sent
his friend Kenpachiro Satsuma, a suit actor of Godzilla from 1984 to 1995.
• G-FEST was initiated by a Godzilla fan, J.D. Lees,
who was a high school teacher in Canada. Lees first published a newsletter
G-FAN for his friends in 1993. When he ran a small ad in a science magazine,
many G-fans applied for a subscription.
Never Give Up
• Suit actor Kenpachiro Satsuma was welcomed by a full house of Godzilla fans. In 1947, he was born in Kagoshima Prefecture. He was tossed by the ups and downs of the movie industry, but he never gave up and carved out a career for himself.
Q: Why did you get into the movie industry?
• Satsuma: I longed for Yujiro Ishihara, a big action
star in Nikkatsu studio. I applied to new-face recruiting by Nikkatu,
but I was rejected.
Q: You didn’t give up becoming an actor.
• Satsuma: I finished probation period with no late starts
and no absenteeism and was accepted as a regular employee by the steel
company. A new factory was built in Chiba Prefecture, close to Tokyo,
and I was transferred there. My job was the same, hard work in a hot place.
• I had a strong Kagoshima accent, but I worked hard
to become an actor. There was a show in the school, and my teacher appointed
me as a main character because I was working very hard. I was so pleased
• I wasn’t beaten by that. I worked harder, and then Nikkatsu officially made a contract with me as a formal staff. If you work hard, somebody is watching you. Don’t forget about it.
Q: It’s a good story.
• Satsuma: Yes. I worked harder and harder and showed
up in several movies. I was very excited, but then Nikkatsu got into a
crisis. It decided to move to blue film making and said to me, “Undress
if you want to stay in.”
Q: So what did happen to you after that?
• Satsuma: I had a senior colleague in Mifune Production, and he arranged a job for me in there. Mifune Production and Toho studio had a very close relationship at that time, so I showed up in Toho movies. I dived into water, jumped one place to another, and played such minor rules.
• One day, a director of Toho called me to his room.
Of course, I was very excited and thought that he would give me a good
• I didn’t like it, but anyway, I took it and decided to do it one time only.
Q: What did inside of a monster suit look like?
• Satsuma: It was very heavy and hot, and I had to stay
inside for a long time, so I decided to write about daily happenings in
the studio while I was observing things from inside of the suit. It became
“Godzilla Diary” later.
Q: While you were inside of Hedorah, Haruo Nakajima was in the Godzilla suit.
• Satsuma: Yes, he was very active at that time. I was
a new face, so I couldn’t talk with him and didn’t ask his advice because
I had a pride as an action actor.
• I had thought that I would do it one time only, but I accepted it because I saw the staff members were working very hard in the dirty studio. I liked them and my job, too.
Q: Thank you very much.
Kenpachiro Satsuma (C), a suit actor of Godzilla, speaks about half of his life.
A full house of Godzilla fans welcome Kenpachiro Satsuma.
Kenpachiro Satsuma (R) and Tetsuya Takarada, son of Akira Takarada
Megumi Odaka, who played a role of psychic girl Miki Saegusa, in Godzilla movies for the sixth consecutive time (C), and Robert Scott Field (R).
A Godzilla fan roars at 2018 G-Fest.
Another Godzilla fan roars in an exhibition room at 2018 G-Fest.