On September 30, 1964, the film crew was far removed from the hustle and bustle in Tokyo, as the organizers raced to ensure that everything was ready for the start of the Olympics on October 10. This crew was instead shooting a scene for a film at the Oh River in Fukushima, directed by Koji Wakamatsu.

Two prisoners, recently escaped from a prison, were wading across the river, handcuffed Actors Drown_Japan Times_1October1964together. As The Japan Times of October 1, 1964 reports, one of the actors, Shinobu Takasuga “stumbled and fell, pulling (Sanzo) Akaozeki with him, and the two men were swept downstream. The river current was unusually strong, the eyewitnesses said.”

Apparently, the 28-year old director, Wakamatsu jumped in the river along with three others with the hopes of saving the two actors, but they had to be rescued themselves 100 meters down the river. As of that writing, the bodies still had not been found.

While Wakamatsu would go on to have a long career as a film director, this was a dark time at an early stage in his career. The title of this unfortunate film? “Misjudgment”.

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Sandra Bezic on the cover of Asahi Graf, February 18, 1972
Sandra Bezic on the cover of Asahi Graf, February 18, 1972

“With fame, you know, you can read about yourself, somebody else’s ideas about you, but what’s important is how you feel about yourself – for survival and living day to day with what comes up.”

So said Marilyn Monroe, that candle in the wind.

Sandra Bezic was 15 years old when she competed in the pairs figure skating competition at the Sapporo Olympic Games in 1972. Sandra and her brother Val finished ninth, and were in a frame of mind in which winning a medal was out of the question, which meant they could enjoy their lives after the competition.

Their parents decided that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a country – Japan – they may never come back to, so before the 2-week competition ended, they went on a family holiday to Tokyo and Kyoto.

And one day, while walking along the streets of Kyoto, the ancient seat of government, they came upon a magazine rack at a shop that had “rows and rows of me” – a magazine with a cover graced by the youthful face of the figure skater from Canada. “We bought up a whole bunch of copies,” Bezic told me, “and just laughed and laughed.”

But Bezic was not a candle in the wind. She had a plan post-Olympics. She found a niche as a choreographer for figure skating long before specialists were a part of a coach’s toolkit in shaping future Olympians. Such skaters as Barbara Underhill and Paul Martini, Brian Boitano, Kristi Yamaguchi and Tara Lipinski had routines designed by Bezic.

Bezic went on to become a commentator for NBC during

Yusaku Kamekura's first Tokyo Olympics poster
Yusaku Kamekura’s first Tokyo Olympics poster
Red sun over Olympic gold – a striking design that won over the Olympic organizers instantly. As explained by this article in pingmag.jp, the 1964 Olympics emblem was designed by Yusaku Kamekura in what might seem a flash of genius.

“Legend has it that Kamekura forgot when he had to submit his design and on the day of the deadline got a phone fall. He dashed this out in less than two hours. Of course, that’s not to say that he just did it off the cuff – clearly he had been mulling over the concept for a long time in his head. The design has real impact and perhaps cannot be better for its striking minimalism. It was

“Are there any people here tonight who were at the first Beatles show at Budokan? That’s a lot of people! Put your hands up. Hi guys! Good to see you again!”

And then the legend, the forever boyish Paul McCartney launched into “Another Girl”, performing at the Budokan on April 28.

The Beatles were the first entertainers ever to perform at the Nippon Budokan, on June 30, 1966, some 49 years ago. The Budokan was planned and built very quickly,

Japan Times, October 8, 1964
Japan Times, October 8, 1964

Nicola Zappeti, recently released from prison, found himself in Tokyo in the late 1950s with nothing but a notion that Japan needed a pizzaria. And so he cajoled enough friends and acquaintances to provide him with funds to start an Italian restaurant, despite the fact that the only thing he knew about the restaurant business was that he liked Italian food. From nothing, Zappetti created a culinary icon, explains author and old Japan hand, Robert Whiting describes in his book, “Tokyo Underworld – The Fast Times and Hard Life of an American Gangster in Japan“.

“Nicola’s was still the attraction. It now occupied an entire newly constructed three-story concrete building with forty large tables, two blocks from its original location and a stone’s throw from the opulent new Hotel Okura, modeled after an ancient Kyoto palace and adjudged to be the finest hotel in the world. The restaurant had made Roppongi synonymous with pizza.

tokyo underworld“Although Crown Prince Akihito and Princess Michiko had subsequently curtailed their pizza-eating excursions to concentrate on the task of producing an heir to the throne, Nicola’s remained a Who’s Who of Tokyo and international society. On any given night,

Life Magazine, 11 September 1964
Life Magazine, 11 September 1964

“Bowling is the hottest new sports fad in Japan, and Tokyo has the biggest bowling center in the world, with 120 lanes. This monster, the Shinagawa Bowling Center, is open until 3 in the morning. It attracts, in addition to serious bowlers, a good many beatniks and nightclub hostesses after the clubs have closed. Other bowling lanes where a little English is spoken include the Tokyo Bowling Center, right next to Meiji Olympic Park, Tokyo Bowl at Tokyo Tower and the Korakuen Bowling Arena in Korakuen Park. Reservations are necessary, especially at night. All of these places have restaurants and bars, but the food is not recommended. Bowling costs a steep 60¢ to $1 a line.” Sports Illustrated – July 6, 1964

I went to a birthday party at this bowling alley last April. I bowled one of my best games ever – 158.

Don Draper is tired of settling for mid-sized clients. He wants to work on the best projects with the biggest players in the world. He sets up a meeting with Dow Chemical, whose CEO is happy with another ad agency, and has no desire to talk with Draper. But Draper taps into the competitive drive inherent in effective leaders. Like high performance athletes, Don doesn’t settle for winning, or just being happy. He wants to win, big, on the biggest stage.

Dow CEO: It doesn’t change the fact that we’re happy with our agency.

Draper: Are you? You’re happy with 50%? You’re on top and you don’t have enough. You’re happy because you’re successful. For now. But what is happiness? It’s a moment before you need more happiness. I won’t settle for 50% of anything. I want 100%. You’re happy with your agency? You’re not happy with anything. You don’t want most of it. You want all of it. And I won’t stop until you get all of it. Thank you for your time.

The top pop songs of 1964 were:

1.  “I Want to Hold Your Hand” The Beatles
2.  “She Loves You” The Beatles
3.  “Hello, Dolly!” Louis Armstrong
4.  “Oh, Pretty Woman” Roy Orbison
5.  “I Get Around” The Beach Boys
6.  “Everybody Loves Somebody” Dean Martin
7.  “My Guy” Mary Wells
8.  “We’ll Sing in the Sunshine” Gale Garnett
9.  “Last Kiss” J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers
10. “Where Did Our Love Go” The Supremes

No surprises. But according to swimmer Dick Roth, gold medal winner of the Men’s 400 meter individual medley race in Tokyo, the song he remembers from that time is Lonnie Donegan’s  “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose it’s Flavour?”