Herotaku Archives: Interview – Michi Yamato of Fujiyama Ichiban Part I
Hello Herotaku, this is TaJa Doyle a.k.a. Wheelchair21 and I am bringing back the interviews with the cast and staff of Fujiyama Ichiban. Today will start off with the first part in the interview held with Mr. Michi Yamato, the creator of the series. Mr. Yamato is a stunt actor, and stunt director from Japan, who immigrated to America during the 90s and began working for Saban Entertainment. He eventually founded the samurai stage combat school, Samurai Action, which also doubles as his studio for the indie-Tokusatsu web-series, Fujiyama Ichiban. In the first part of the interview, we discuss his start in Japan and what lead him into joining Saban Brands during the 90s.
To start off our interview Mr. Yamato, what lead to you wanting to become a stunt actor and choose Ohno Kenyukai as the studio for your education?
Mr. Yamato: During my childhood in Japan, I grew up watching the original Masked Rider series, Kamen Rider Ichigo. From watching the series, my dream was to become a ‘real’ Masked Rider. Then at the age of sixteen I joined Ohno Kenyukai, as it was the official studio for the Tokusatsu series. At the time then, which was 35 years ago their specialty was sword fighting.
Mr. Yamato when you were still receiving your education in Japan, at Ohno Kenyukai were you ever an extra on Toei’s series?
Mr. Yamato: Yes when I began my education, Toei was currently working on Kamen Rider Super-1 as well as Battle Fever J, and some of my early experience working on those series. I appeared several times in Sentai, Toei’s kid comedy series, and worked Stage Shows.
Now, was your work with Ohno Kenyukai the direct reason you had left for America and began working as a director at Saban Entertainment?
Mr. Yamato: Not necessarily, I was working with Toei and an editor on the Televi-kun magazines where one of the other editors of Televi-kun, frequently traveled to America and it got me interested in visiting the country. I thought about it and had considered the idea of opening a school here in America, at that time. Eventually I moved on and began working as an editor for a major Japanese newspaper, where I learnt that Saban began adapting Super Sentai as Power Rangers, and had begun auditions for Masked Rider. I called the studios for a chance at the audition, and hired starting my career in Hollywood.
Once you had begun your work with Saban, on Masked Rider and Beetleborgs were there any problems in communication, or trouble directing the stunts especially since you were the lead suit actor in Saban’s Masked Rider?
Mr. Yamato: That’s a great question, because when I left Japan my ability to read and understand the English language was good, however when it can to an actual conversation, speaking the language was difficult. I relied on support from my producer Bob Hughes at the time. When it came to directing and doing the stunts it was easy, but some of the hard parts was teaching the American stunt on how to perform with a more Japanese style and having to go in between takes to check the takes while still in suit.
What lead to your departure from Saban Entertainment?
Mr. Yamato: When Masked Rider and Beetleborgs wrapped shooting I had already begun working another project, and simply took my leave to work on it…
Now, this concludes part one of our three part interview with Mr. Michi Yamato, creator of Fujiyama Ichiban. Part two of the interview focuses directly on the creation of Fujiyama Ichiban, and some background on the series. Readers can expect part two and three to be uploaded within the next couple of days, or there is the choice of listening to full interview on Herotaku’s Official YouTube Channel. As for Fujiyama Ichiban, one can simply find the series on YouTube, as well as follow the series on Facebook and Twitter!
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