Yuriko Hishimi would be best known to Japanese monster movie fans as Tomoko Tomoe (the martial arts expert) in Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972) and as Anne Yuri in the original Ultra Seven (1967-68) series. In 2008, Ms. Hishimi, in an interview translated by totorom, answered Brett Homenick’s questions. Vantage Point Interviews proudly presents this interview in celebration of Ultra Seven‘s 50th anniversary.
BH: How did you become involved with the film industry?
YH: I was spotted and recruited by Kajiro Yamamoto, a director at Toho. It was 1965 when a contest for a goodwill envoy “Miss Senorita” was held. “Miss Senorita” was to deliver the movie Tokyo Olympiad, directed by Kon Ichikawa, and a message from Mr. (Ryotaro) Azuma, the then-Governor of Tokyo, to the next Olympics site, Mexico. I was the runner-up of the contest, and Mr. Yamamoto, the chief of the judges, recruited me for Toho.
BH: How did you get cast in Ultra Seven?
YH: The actress originally cast for the role turned down just before the shooting, and I replaced her.
BH: What was Hajime Tsuburaya like as a director?
YH: He was a hearty drinker and a good singer with a boy’s heart. As a director, he created wonderful pictures.
BH: Did you work with Eiji Tsuburaya at all?
YH: I did not work in person with him as his position at the time was a supervisor for the series. I only met him a few times.
BH: What can you tell us about working with Kenji Sahara and Akihiko Hirata?
YH: They had joined Toho long before I did, so they were senior actors to me. I could not talk with them familiarly. It was all I could do to exchange greetings with them.
BH: What do you remember about Koji Moritsugu (Dan Moroboshi) and Sandayuu Dokumamushi (Furuhashi)?
YH: Mr. Moritsugu and I were both new-comers, so we tried to be well behaved. Mr. Iyoshi Ishii (Sandayuu Dokumamushi) would always make us Ultra Guard members laugh a lot with his jokes.
On the other hand, as he had an experience from the previous series Ultraman, he sometimes strictly taught us how to act. He was like the “leader of the inmates” (rounanushi). (laughs)
BH: How is filming a TV program different from filming a movie?
YH: As far as Ultra Seven is concerned, it was the same as a movie in regard to the production and staff’s spirits. Maybe because of budget limitation, I think the staff of Ultra Seven was more united together and working longer hours. In the case of movies, I remember the shooting usually finished within regular hours (9 A.M. to 5 P.M.).
BH: What was a typical day of shooting like on the set of Ultra Seven?
YH: When shooting on the set, we were finished sometimes within regular hours. Then we went out for a drink somewhere around Seijyogakuen.
BH: How did you get cast in Godzilla vs. Gigan?
YH: I do not remember at all. I felt as if I suddenly found myself in the cast.
BH: How did Jun Fukuda direct you in this movie?
YH: I worked with Mr. Fukuda for a TV drama series Tenka no Seinen in 1967 before Ultra Seven. He was the location director for the series. As I was a real new-comer at that time, he intensely taught me how to act again and again, which I still clearly remember like a trauma. However, when we worked together for Godzilla vs. Gigan in the fall of 1971, he did not say anything about my acting and was very calm. So I did not have many memories about Mr. Fukuda with Godzilla vs. Gigan.
BH: What are your memories of Hiroshi Ishikawa, who played Gengo?
YH: He was favored with good roles in some movies, but it looks as if he did not work as an actor for long. I still wonder why he does not act anymore.
BH: Do you have any memories of what it was like to film your fight scenes?
YH: I was cast as the karate woman, but it was very difficult to learn the fighting sequences.
BH: You also worked with Minoru Takashima (Shosaku Takasugi) Tomoko Umeda (Machiko Shima). Do you have any memories of them?
YH: We enjoyed working together in a friendly atmosphere. I like to go out for dinner or drink together with my co-stars, but we did not when shooting Godzilla vs. Gigan. Maybe because of that, I do not have a clear memory of them.
BH: Other notable actors who appeared in the film were Toshiaki Nishizawa (Kubota) and Zan Fujita (Fumio Sudo). Could you tell us what they were like to work with?
YH: I enjoyed working with Mr. Toshiaki Nishizawa, too. Years later, I bumped into him at a bar (izakaya) near the Kyoto Studio. I greeted him and thanked him for working with me on Godzilla vs. Gigan, but he seemed to have forgotten me. It was disappointing.
BH: Where were your scenes shot, and how long did filming last from start to finish?
YH: I think all of my scenes were shot at the studio including Godzilla Tower. Oh! I might have been on location for a day. I only have a vague memory after all these years.
BH: What was a usual day of shooting like?
YH: It was a tough shooting at the Godzilla Tower set because of a long waiting time. Other than that, we did not have much trouble. The shooting finished in about three days.
BH: Did you get to watch any of the SFX scenes being filmed?
YH: No, I did not have a chance.