For those who haven't read the story, 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 project 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. 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 of Beppu rests a special attraction. I can imagine Fleming's eyes lighting up upon hearing its name- Mt. Demon Hell! Visitors 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 a giant ominous club. Ian Fleming is seen below 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. He died five months after its publication in March, 1964. The story was adapted for cinema by Roald Dahl in 1967.
During my own trip to Kyushu, I had a chance to follow Fleming's path. We sampled the baths in Beppu and Oita, spent two days photographing wild monkeys on Mt. Takasaki in Beppu, 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. You Only Live Twice first edition design below by Richard Chopping.
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