Text by Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi
How did I fall in love with Japan? What made me go to Japan in 1974?
#1 Two movies: James Bond’s You Only Live Twice and Akira Kurosawa’s The 7 Samurai. Both movies inspired me to make my own research about this country and its people: about the old and modern Japan of that time. Before watching these movies I had already started to practice Japanese martial arts, such as Judo, Karate and Kendo. At that time Germans and Europeans in general had no interest in Japan. During my school days nobody taught or talked about the country “of the rising sun.”
#2 Before watching these movies I had already started to practice Japanese martial arts, such as Judo, Karate and Kendo in Hamburg, Germany. Eventually Kendo became my “budo” love. My Japanese Kendo teacher at that time, who was from Osaka, was my inspiration. After he went back to Japan he invited me to come to Osaka and study Kendo under him.
#3 When I was a teenager Germans and Europeans in general had no interest in Japan. During my school days nobody taught or talked about the country “of the rising sun.” But the OSAKA EXPO changed everything. Late at night I watched on tv a documentary film of the world fair OSAKA EXPO which was held for the first time in Japan in 1970. In this documentary this world event and especially the West German pavilion was featured as the world’s first spherical concert hall, based on artistic concepts by the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. The pavilion theme was Gardens of Music. The audience was surrounded by 50 loudspeakers around the interior walls of the pavilion. The sound was three dimensional created by a spherical controller designed by Fritz Winckel. Works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, Bernd Alois Zimmermann, and Boris Blacher were played from a multi-track tape. But the main act and attraction was Stockhausen who was invited to present a five and a half hour live program of his own music which was played by 19 musicians of Stockhausen’s ensemble every day over a period of 183 days to a total audience of about a million expo visitors.
#4 The news of the death of the Japanese writer Yukio Mishima in November 25, 1970 who killed himself by seppuku after a failed coup d’état. I couldn’t believe that Mishima had the guts to plunge a short blade into his abdomen and move the blade from left to right in a slicing motion. Ouch…very painful.
#5 The LP Tony Scott’s Music for Zen Meditation with Hozan Yamamoto on shakuhachi. Man I loved the shakuhachi sound!!!
So when I was 19 I left Hamburg. Almost everybody around me was against my trip to Japan. My parents couldn’t understand why I wanted to leave them. But I did what I had to do……………………………………………………………………..
Besides I would like you to know about an amusing short Japanese movie The 8th Samurai which was directed bu Justin Ambrosino and filmed in Los Angeles. The movie is in Japanese and using many of the actors from Clint Eastwood’s 2006 Letters from Iwo Jima. This black-and-white feature supposes that there were eight samurais in Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai until an omen caused the director to drop one actor.
Written and Directed by Justin Ambrosino.
Starring Eijiro Ozaki, Akiko Shima, Toshi Toda, Hiroshi Watanabe, Takashi Yamaguchi, Ikumo Ando & Yuki Matsuzaki.
Produced by Soojin Chung, Ken Ochiai, Justin Ambrosino & David Stephenson
Cinematography by Lucas Lee Graham
Edited by Soojin Chung
Music by Romeo Scaccia