Home > Books/Magazines, Film, Reviews > Book Review: On the Tracks of 007 – You Only Live Twice 50th Anniversary Guide to Japan

Book Review: On the Tracks of 007 – You Only Live Twice 50th Anniversary Guide to Japan

Go on an exciting journey from Tokyo to Kagoshima, revisiting all the filming locations used in You Only Live Twice!

Front cover“Go on an exciting journey from Tokyo to Kagoshima, revisiting all the filming locations used in You Only Live Twice. From Osato Chemicals HQ to Tiger Tanaka’s countryside house, from Blofeld’s volcano base to the remote shrine where Bond married Kissy. An action packed adventure!” (Rear Cover)

Written by Martijn Mulder (author of “On the tracks of 007”), who, according to his Twitter account, is a writer – musician – traveller – historian – photographer living in Holland (sic) this is the field guide to film locations in Japan for the film ‘You Only Live Twice’ published to mark the 50th anniversary of the release of the film.

The original novel of ‘You Only Live Twice’ written by Ian Fleming, the twelfth in the James Bond series , was released in June 1967 as the fifth James Bond film produced by Eon Productions. Fleming never saw the film having died in 1964 a few months after the book was published. The guide has a small section covering Fleming’s second visit to Japan in 1962 to research the book. His companions and guides at the time were the journalist, editor and photographer Torao “Tiger” Sato, immortalised in the film as Tiger Tanaka, and Fleming’s former colleague the Australian reporter Richard Hughes on whom the character Dikko Henderson was based. Hughes had lived in Japan between 1940 – 1941, just before the outbreak of Japan’s involvement in the Second World War, and at the time had been acquainted with the Russian double agent living in Japan as a German National at the time, Richard Sorge. After the end of the Second World War, during the Cold War, Hughes moved back to Japan and began working for Ian Fleming ostensibly as a foreign correspondent for the Sunday Times but was also working as a double agent, supposedly spying for the Russians but secretly working for MI6 with Fleming as his handler (see notes).


Hughes and Fleming in Southern Japan

A few close calls dogged the filming of ‘You Only Live Twice’ one of which, in the guide, tells of the cameraman Johnny Jordan’s accident when he lost a foot during the filming of the attack on Bond’s auto-gyro. He sat filming with his legs dangling out of a helicopter when one of the helicopters beneath ascended severing his foot with its blades. Not in the guide was that the scouts for the film locations made a last minute change of return flight to the UK so they could watch a ninja demonstration. A change which meant that they were not on board the ill-fated BOAC flight 911, on which they had originally been booked, which disintegrated in mid-air and crashed 25 minutes after take-off from Haneda Airport killing all on board.

Filmed by Eon Productions between 1966-1967 using a screenplay by Roald Dahl, Japan then was an extremely exotic location. Things have obviously changed since the film was made and according to the guide some of the locations are almost unrecognisable and some have disappeared entirely. Given the hassle he had to put up with in Japan and his consequent disillusionment with stardom it was Sean Connery’s last Bond film before he took a hiatus until ‘Diamonds are Forever’ in 1971 and the 1983 ‘unofficial’ Bond film ‘Never Say Never Again’.

007 posters

The book is great fun and its personable, chatty, style makes it eminently readable. There is a minimal introductory section on Japan itself, its customs and culture with a cursory sampling of Japanese vocabulary and a soupçon of statistics about Japan; just enough to whet the appetite and help while travelling.

There is a great broad brush stroke section on the behind the scenes making of the film which places many of the locations and their associated scenes in context, something which the later location specific sections go into in more detail.

Sadanoyama Shinmatsu

50th Yokozuna Sadanoyama Shinmatsu’s cameo appearance giving Bond a ticket to the Sumo Tournament

The book is well laid out and the largish type makes for easy reading. There are plenty of photos (many rare) from the film as well as modern location photos to drive the reader’s appetite. However the photos in the section at the end of the book showing the film scene by scene are of very poor quality; they could have been much better.

guide to Blofeld's base

Guide to the walking trails around Blofeld’s volcano base

There are few typos, ‘faith’ is used a few times instead of ‘fate’; a glitch with auto-correct perhaps that was missed, and a couple of spelling typos. That being said it is an immensely enjoyable read with some good maps and lots of information on the filming locations, and a great guide to those locations in Japan.

Whilst information is provided at the rear of the book on the best transportation to use, given the geographical spread of the locations, it might have been helpful to include a brief section for the independent traveller using the book as a guide on how to get around by taking advantage of the discounted fares available exclusively for foreign visitors such as the Japan Rail Pass and Domestic Air Service tickets.

Although it might be considered a tad niche all in all it is a refreshing, interesting and informative guide… especially for fans of the Bond movies!


You Only Live Twice 50th Anniversary Guide to Japan sample pages

‘On the Tracks of 007: You Only Live Twice 50th Anniversary – Guide to Japan’

by Martijn Mulder

ISBN 9789081329408 – 170 pages – A5 size – Full colour

£19.95 Amazon UK


The field guide at ‘On the Tracks of 007’ website


In July 2017 to celebrate the 50th anniversary publication of ‘You Only Live Twice’ a group tour ‘On the Tracks of 007 in Japan’ took place travelling from Tokyo to Kagoshima. For details follow this link


A second tour is planned April 6th – April 19th 2018. Though this seems to be fully booked for details of the tour itinerary follow this link


The Extraordinary Untold Story of ‘You Only Live Twice’, the Japan Times


Reviewer Profile:

Trevor Skingle was born and lives in London where he works in the field of Humanitarian Disaster Relief. He is a Japanophile and his hobbies are Kabuki, painting and drawing and learning Japanese.

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