Eiji Tsuburaya: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Eiji Tsuburaya Photos


One of the creators of Godzilla is honored by Google in the July 7 doodle. That man is Japanese science fiction icon Eiji Tsuburaya and in addition to his movies, he also inspired a line of sake and made World War II propaganda for his country. In his doodle, users are invited to play a game which involves various monster movie settings, including destroying tanks and spaceships. Tsuburaya was a special effects innovator and is considered one of the most influential movie visionaries of all time.

Eiji Tsuburaya died in Japan on January 25, 1970 at the age of 68.

Here’s what you need to know about this iconic figure:

1. His WW2 Propaganda Was So Powerful, His Fictional Reels Were Used by the U.S. as ‘Real Pearl Harbor Footage’

The American destroyer USS Shaw explodes during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. (Getty)

The American destroyer USS Shaw explodes during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. (Getty)

During World War II and the Second Sino-Japanese war, Tsuburaya created several powerful war movies which were regarded as propaganda by the imperial government. Among them were The Imperial Way of Japan, Naval Bomber Squadron and The War at Sea from Hawaii to Malaya. According to his biography, Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters: Defending the Earth with Ultraman and Godzilla, his fictional footage of the attack on Pearl Harbor was so powerful it was used by the Americans. General MacArthur’s unit were said to have leaked footage to Frank Capra for use in the Movietone reels, which were the American propaganda wing. The book, Icons of American Architecture, says that MacArthur sold the footage to Capra and that it was used in the Why We Fight series. One of Tsuburaya’s later films was about a Japanese pilot during World War II, its title was translated for English language audiences as I Bombed Pearl Harbor.

2. A Line of Sake Was Created in His Honor, Inspired by His Movies

Sake served in a clear glass. (Wikipedia)

Sake served in a clear glass. (Wikipedia)

A sake brewery from Tsuburaya’s hometown, Nihonmatsu, in Fukushima, brought out a range of sake in his honor. The Japan News reported in 2015 that the sake is “top-quality sake made only from highly polished rice.” The website adds that for the promotion of the sake, the brewery created complex alien and monster related stories behind each bottle. A portion of the proceeds will go towards the Ultraman Foundation, a charity set up in the wake of the 2011 earthquake for children in eastern Japan.

3. He Converted to Catholicism for His Wife

Eiji Tsuburaya BiographyEiji Tsuburaya was the Japanese special effects director responsible for many Japanese science-fiction movies, including the Godzilla series. In the United States, he is also remembered as the creator of Ultraman. From: Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (Classic Media DVD).2012-02-21T20:18:29Z

Throughout his youth, Tsuburaya followed his family’s faith of Nichiren Buddhism. He met his wife, Masano Araki, in 1929, according to his biography. They met during a visit she made to Kyoto, where Tsuburaya was working for Shochiku Kyoto Studios as a cameraman. The couple were married in February 1930 and three sons together. However, it was not until his later years that he converted to Roman Catholicism for her.

4. After WWII, He Found Work Hard to Come By

Eiji Tsuburaya Godzilla

Tsuburaya pictured with his most famous creation. (Screengrab via YouTube)

As Japanese society changed post-World War II, Tsuburaya found that his association with the imperial war effort had blacklisted him in the movie world, according to one online biography. However, by 1950, he was working as the head of Toho Studio’s special effects department. He had over 60 people under him. It was through this team, and with the help of director Ishiro Honda and producer Tomouki Tanaka, that he created Godzilla in 1954. In total, at Toho, he worked on more than 250 movies. His other most famous work was the 1960s TV series, Ultraman.

5. His Career Goal Was to Emulate ‘King Kong’

(Screengrab via YouTube)

(Screengrab via YouTube)

Following on from the success of Godzilla, Tsuburaya told the media “When I worked for Nikkatsu Studios, King Kong came to Kyoto and I never forgot that movie. I thought to myself, ‘I will someday make a monster movie like that.” Across the 1960s, he would work on the movies King Kong vs. Godzilla and King Kong Escapes. Unlike his iconic inspiration, Tsuburaya used a man in a rubber suit to create the effect of his monster, rather than the more popular at the time Stop motion technique.

Read about Eiji Tsuburaya in Spanish at our sister site, AhoraMismo.com:

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