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Kimi Yokota was born in 1921 in Tokyo, Japan where she lived until her mid-thirties. After agreeing to an arranged marriage with an older Japanese gentleman living in the U.S. she traveled to Chicago and there lived until her death following sudden and tragic complications from a stroke in 1995.

Kimi's husband had long since passed away by the time I met her as a college student in 1986. Through my friendship with Japanese students, I soon became a regular at Kimi's home. She gave me my first Japanese language primer which I continue to use to this day and was a primary catalyst in my decision to delve into Japanese culture. (I watched my first Japanese movie at her home.) She taught me how to make maki-zushi. Everyone, including the other little Japanese women, envied her skill at making Saba nigiri zushi (the taste of which I still remember). With her I watched my first Kohaku. She told me vivid stories of her childhood memories of the firebombs falling on Tokyo "like fireworks". Through her I was introduced to core portions of Chicago's Japanese community -- ties I still keep.

Kimi was cremated and buried alongside her husband in Montrose Cemetery on the north side of Chicago. Angels looking down probably see it like this.

I was one of the 5 people including the clergy present at her burial. I literally buried her with the shovel in my hand. I laid her to rest.

Mizuki Shigeru (b. 1924) is a household name in Japan predominantly due to his long-running and widely popular animation series Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro which followed the humanitarian and educational adventures of Kitaro, a young boy born and raised amidst a community of obakemono (monsters). Over the years Mizuki has distinguished himself as perhaps the foremost authority on traditional Japanese monsters, ghouls and ghosts and has published countless books filled with his entertaining and good-natured drawings.

My order of several of his latest publications just came in and I hope to soon pass along some of what they contain.

I had the pleasure of meeting Matt Kennedy, President of Panik House this weekend at the Fangoria Horror Conference here in Chicago. Both Matt and Panik House moved from Los Angeles to Chicago in December 2005, no doubt to escape the oppressive warmth and sunshine of the West Coast.

This guy (Matt Kennedy) has been single-handedly responsible for Panik House's recent release of several excellent Japanese titles, such as Sex and Fury, its sequel Female Yakuza Tale, and the entire The Pinky Violence Collection. Panik House's most recent Japanese title release is Tokyo Psycho, a 2004 film by Tomie director Oikawa Ataru, SaruDama's review of which is in the que.

In addition to these Japanese titles, Panik House has also recently released Bangkok Haunted (2001) and Omen (2003), two Thai horror films which have both received widespread positive reviews (and awards).

I had already reviewed all of the The Pinky Violence Collection prior to talking to Matt and had constructed my own theories regarding the collection as a whole (which you can find in the reviews) but through my discussion and brief exchange of e-mail with him, a whole new window of perspective into the process of compiling the collection came into view. (For example, you can read his informative comment to one of my reviews here.) For this reason I hope to post here an interview with him in the near future.

Blessed Be The Fan Base

For those of you curious about SaruDama, let me divulge that I was not born with a Japanese film grasped in my goopy little hand. No. I want you all to know that my unrivaled skill in Z-grade film analysis and ninja-ette bOObie parlay is something I have spent considerable years and effort in perfecting. But without doubt, one of the primary inspirations on my venture thus far has been Snowblood Apple.

Run by the husband-wife team of Alex and Mandi Apple, Snowblood provides a truly robust discussion forum for fans of Japanese and other Asian film. I'm serious. Check it out.

As a community forum, Snowblood is undoubtedly one of the core pillars of the contemporary J-Horror/ Asian-Horror Underground.

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