July 19, 2016

FLEMING'S JAPAN

Spy Vibers, I'm on a mission and look forward to sharing photographs with you from all the major filming locations from the great 1960s series like The Prisoner, The Avengers, The Saint, and many more. I even made a pilgrimage to Ian Fleming's grave. Stay tuned! I'll try to post updates en route. In the meantime, check out a Spy Vibe classic that may have slipped off the radar. Fleming Week: Fleming's Japan. My Art students and I have wrapped up another school year, and I find myself diving into an even busier schedule writing the manuscript to a new book about the spy boom (details soon!) and planning a visit to Elstree Studios, Portmeirion, and various locations used in classic 1960s TV series. But before we rush off on summer missions, I invite Spy Vibers to pause and recognize an important date on the Spy Vibe calendar. 007 creator Ian Fleming was born on May 28th, 1908. We are celebrating his birthday all week with new articles based on Spy Vibe's most popular posts about our favorite author.


One of the rare photographs in my collection offered a chance to do some research and get a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the eleventh James Bond novel, You Only Live TwiceIan Fleming had been sending his secret agent 007 around the world since Casino Royale in 1953. And when it came time to plan the twelfth book, the author chose Japan as the main setting. Fleming's timing couldn't have been better. The country was booming with economic and technological growth, and a new international fascination would soon blossom with increased tourism around the Tokyo Olympics. Fleming had visited Japan once before, when he was writing Thrilling Cities in 1959, and he returned in late autumn of 1962 to find elements that would suit the next James Bond thriller. Meeting up with journalist Richard Hughes and editor/architect Torao "Tiger" Saito, Fleming hoped to soak in "local color, factual detail, spiritual inspiration, and carnal folklore." (Hughes/Foreign Devil). They stopped in Tokyo and Kobe during a two-week journey that took them down the inland sea to Kyushu. But where exactly did he visit? The rare photo held the answer. Posing next to a demon statue, Fleming playfully pulled at its belly button for the camera. In the background are signposts that provided clues to Fleming's route. Continues below.


For those who haven't read You Only Live Twice, Bond's nemesis Blofeld turns up in Japan, where he lords over a castle surrounded by a macabre garden of deathly delights. Fleming needed to find dramatic and deadly elements for the setting and his research reportedly contained detailed taxonomy of all manner of poisonous fauna and flora. Kyushu is renown for its hot springs and live volcanoes, and he couldn't have picked a better location than Beppu, Mt. Aso, and the Fukuoka area. Based on testimony in the author's biography and intel gleaned from the signposts in the photo, I was able to create a map of Fleming's route (below). His first stop on the island was the small city of Beppu. If you have ever been to the area, you will know why the author and his friends made such an effort to get there. In the heart of the hot springs rests a special attraction. I can imagine Fleming's eyes lighting up upon hearing its name- "Mt. Demon Hell"! It must have sounded tailor-made for a diabolical mastermind. Visitors to the mountain are greeted by the statues of giant demons, who overlook an assortment of bubbling pools of mud and scalding water. It is a rocky terrain, where the air is thick with steam and sulphur. There is even a place where crocodiles are bred! One demon statue in particular rests on a rock and wields an ominous club. Ian Fleming is seen in the image above at this site in 1962, posing for a photograph presumedly by one of his two traveling companions. Incidentally, Fleming's guides found their way into the novel as the Dikko Henderson and Tiger Tanaka characters. Fleming returned from the trip to complete the book during the early winter of 1963 in Jamaica. The novel was published by Jonathan Cape in March, 1964. Fleming died five months later in August. The book was adapted for cinema by Roald Dahl in 1967. Story continues.



I lived in Japan for a number of years to teach English in a northern farming town and was fortunate to be able to travel the country. During my own trip to Kyushu, I had a chance to follow Ian Fleming's path. We sampled the baths in Beppu and Oita, spent two days photographing wild monkeys on Mt. Takasaki, and made our way to Mt. Aso, Mt. Unzen in Nagasaki Prefecture, and to Fukuoka. Amazingly, Mt. Unzen erupted unexpectedly a couple of weeks after we left, killing many people- including a few volcano specialists. It would seem Fleming's intuition about the dangerous vibe of the area was correct. Below: You Only Live Twice, Mr. Bond, but Fleming's great novel has lived on through numerous editions around the world. Enjoy! Our Ian Fleming image archive hereSpy Vibers, I'm making my first trip to England later this month. If you can help, please consider making a small donation in our Paypal tip-jar at top-left of the page. You can also help by shopping my current listings on eBay hereThank you! -Jason 


Selected Spy Vibe Posts: Interview: Mod Tales 2Umbrella Man: Patrick MacneeNew Beatles FilmThe Curious CameraEsterel Fashion 1966Exclusive Ian Ogilvy Interview007 Tribute CoversThe Phantom Avon novels returnIan Fleming FestivalArgoman DesignSylvia Anderson R.I.P.Ken Adam R.I.P.George Martin R.I.P.The New Avengers ComicsTrina Robbins InterviewThe Phantom at 80007 MangaAvengerworld BookDiana Rigg Auto ShowThe Prisoner Audio Drama ReviewDavid McCallum novelAndre Courreges R.I.P.Who's Talking on Spy VibeUFO Blu-rayAvengers Pop Art Interview, Fergus Fleming Interview, Avengers: Alan Hayes InterviewJaz Wiseman Interview, Diana Rigg BFI InterviewCasino Royale Interview: Mike RichardsonLost Diana Rigg InterviewHonor Blackman at 90UNCLE SchoolIan Fleming Memorial, Portmeirion PhotosDoctor Who ExhibitFarewell SteedPussy Galore ReturnsDiana Rigg birthdaySherlock at 221BInvisible AgentSaint Interview: Ian DickersonSaint DoppelgängerFleming's TypewriterRare FlemingFleming's MusicIan Fleming's JapanJim Wilson Corgi InterviewFantomas DesignJohn Buss interview, Saint VolvoMod Tales InterviewAgente Secreto ComicsDanger Man Comics 2Danger Man ComicsJohn Drake ComicsDer Mann Von UNCLEGolden Margaret NolanMan From UNCLE RocksteadyPussy Galore CalypsoCynthia Lennon R.I.P.Edward Mann FashionLeonard Nimoy TributeShatner at 84Bob Morane seriesThai Bond DesignBond vs ModernismTokyo Beat 1964Feraud Mod FashionGreen Hornet MangaAvengers Interview: Michael RichardsonIan Fleming: Wicked GrinJane Bond Hong Kong RecordsRyan Heshka Interview, Comics Week: Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E., Comics Week: Archie, Comics Week: Robots, Comics Week: Cold War Atomic, Comics Week: SPYMANComics Week: Jimmy OlsenShakespeare Spies: Diana RiggShakespeare Spies IRodney Marshall Avengers InterviewRichard Sala: Super-EnigmatixCold War ArchiePlayboy Bunny InterviewThe 10th Victim Japanese and KindleU.N.C.L.E. Japanese Books, Catsuits, Batman '66 Green Hornet Interview: Ralph Garman Ty Templeton.

1 comment:

  1. Check out the online book detailing Fleming's Japan activities: https://books.google.com/books/about/Fleming_Bond_and_Connery_in_Japan.html?id=14roCwAAQBAJ

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