Join Akira Toriyama as he continues his adventures in Bali, in Part 3 of my Akira Toriyama Bali Island Tour Exposé.
You will see the connections between Toriyama’s real-life adventure to Bali, and how Bali’s cultural elements found their way into the Dragon Ball manga, including real-life people.
In Part 3, Toriyama gives us 6 more pictures from his vacation in Bali in June of 1985.
They are published on Page 4 of Bird Land Press 19, in July of 1985.
I scanned and translated everything in this article.
The following text in quotes is written by Akira Toriyama.
I wrote the explanatory text and cultural knowledge that follows.
Toriyama’s Description: “I didn’t bring my driver’s license, and when I tried to get one in Bali, the driver’s training school was booked… It couldn’t be helped. I snapped this pic in front of a Wagon Jeep on the road.”
Here we see Akira Toriyama standing next to his assistant Takashi Matsuyama in front of a line of cars. This is likely part of Toriyama’s tour group trek.
Toriyama refers to the car closest to them as a “Wagon Jeep” (I.e. Wāgen • jīpu, ワーゲン•ジープ).
This is a Japanese way to refer to the Volkswagen Type 181 Kurierwagen (“courier car”).
It was manufactured and marketed in West Germany from 1968 to 1983. It’s known as the Thing in the United States (1973–74), The Trekker in the UK, the Safari in Mexico and South America, and Pescaccia in Italy.
Akira Toriyama is an auto-enthusiast. As you know from reading my drive tourists around Bali.
Of course, it’s just like Toriyama to forget his driver’s license, even with that rad fanny pack he could have carried it in.
Toriyama’s Caption: “The Barong dance, famous in Bali.”
Toriyama’s Description: “When I saw this dance in the hot weather, it felt very strange yet very relaxing.”
Toriyama has taken a picture of a Balinese dancer in a costume.
The Barong dance is a traditional Balinese performance art that tells a 12th century tale of good versus evil called Calon Arang.
The Barong is a benevolent spirit that takes the form of a beast that protects the kingdom against a wrathful witch queen.
Here, a male dancer wears the frightening and furry Barong mask and costume.
This type of scary-yet-kind visage is common in Balinese Hinduism.
You may recognize this type of ugly and big-toothed face from the traditional Balinese sculptures at the Tenkaichi Budōkai’s Martial Arts Temple architecture in Dragon Ball.
Many of the deities in Bali have bulging eyes and large fangs.
My current theory is that these particular sculptures in Dragon Ball are inspired by the Balinese sculptures of the god named Bhoma.
In traditional times, Balinese dancers would perform the story in concordance with a cyclical musical gamelan ensemble in order to enter into a hypnotic trance.
Nowadays, the dance is performed every day in Bali for tourists.
Although at the time of this article’s publication all dances have been cancelled due to Covid-19, and the dancers are out of work.
But back in 1985, Toriyama became one such tourist, as captured here in this photograph.
Toriyama’s Caption: “This is a taxi that took us around Bali.”
Toriyama’s Description: “The fee is about 10,000 yen to keep the meter running all day. Still, the driver smiled from making a profit.”
Akira Toriyama is squatting in front of his taxi in Bali.
My parents helped identify the car as a 1963 Chevrolet Biscayne.
Crouching next to Toriyama is a Japanese woman that I don’t recognize.
Standing behind Toriyama is his Balinese tour guide Wayan Budhiyasa.
You’ll remember Budhiyasa from Part 1 and 2 of this series, where Toriyama was pictured with him enjoying the sites and foods of Bali. And Toriyama liked him so much that he added him into Dragon Ball.
Standing behind everyone is Akira Toriyama’s wife, Mikami Nachi.
This means that the person who likely took the photograph is Toriyama’s assistant, Takashi Matsuyama.
Regarding Toriyama’s description, I did some math on these finances.
In 2021, 10,000 yen is equal to approximately $92 USD.
When Toriyama was visiting Bali in June of 1985, the exchange rate of $1 USD was worth 249 yen, so that was about $40.
In terms of Indonesian Rupiah, back in 1985 the exchange rate of $1 USD was equal to 14,374 Rupiah. And it didn’t take much Rupiah to buy a meal or pay for living expenses.
So getting that much money from a Japanese tourist was a large sum.
Nowadays, I imagine many of you reading this would be happy to drive Akira Toriyama around for free.
Toriyama’s Description: “At a temple in Sangeh with the wild monkeys. I went there to drink coconut juice and breathe fresh air.”
Akira Toriyama stands in front of a forest with his wife Mikami Nachi, assistant Takashi Matsuyama, and this unknown lady once again, drinking coconut juice from real coconuts.
Sangeh is a village in Tabanan, Bali that is overgrown with a nutmeg tree forest, and it is inhabited by wild monkeys.
Tourists travel to this sacred forest to see the beautiful nutmeg trees, rambunctious monkeys, and beautiful Balinese Hindu architecture built in the 17th century as a place of meditation.
Who could this mystery woman be? Is she the girlfriend or wife of Matsuyama? A fellow manga author? Or perhaps a friend of Mikami Nachi?
I asked on my social media, but no one has been able to name her.
I also asked the original publisher of Bird Land Press and Takashi Matsuyama, but neither replied.
Even though I can’t identify this woman’s name, this picture of her in Bird Land Press helped me discover something new about the Dragon Ball manga!
Hidden Crowd Cameo
Do you recall this image of the crowd that features Wayan Budhiyasa standing in front of the Tenkaichi Budōkai stage?
Budhiyasa is front and center and almost everyone in the crowd is looking at him.
But there are two women to the left who are only looking at each other.
I’ve deduced that this is Mikami Nachi and her friend!
How can you tell?
When you put the two images next to one another, you can see that the woman in the polka-dot shirt in Dragon Ball has the same hair, glasses, and polka-dot shirt as the woman in this photograph with Toriyama, Mikami Nachi, and Matsuyama. Likewise, the other woman in the drawing has similar hair and glasses to Mikami Nachi, and she’s slightly shorter, just like in real life.
So the reason these two women are looking at each other in excitement for the upcoming matches in the tournament is because Takashi Matsuyama drew both of them into the scene!
And of course Matsuyama drew them into the scene because he traveled to Bali with them.
They also appear later in the tournament when Krillin fights Bacterian.
They are in the lower left corner again, this time wearing face masks. Next to them are two figures wearing Toriyama-style gas masks. Possibly Toriyama and Matsuyama themselves.
This question of who these two women were has always bothered me since writing Dragon Ball Culture Volume 3, where I analyzed each image in the manga in detail.
For years I’ve suspected the shorter girl was Mikami Nachi, and now I have proof that it is.
Did this mystery couple ever bother you?
Maybe I was the only one.
In any case, now the world knows who they are!
Matsuyama Crowd Cameo
Speaking of crowd cameos, I also want to point out some places where I believe Takashi Matsuyama makes an appearance in the crowd.
The first is in front of the gate to the Martial Arts Temple. This is the second image of the Tenkaichi Budōkai grounds in the manga.
I believe Takashi Matsuyama’s likeness is standing on the right side of the illustration, looking at Muten Rōshi, Son Gokū, and Krillin.
You can see that the men have similar hair, glasses, moustache, and a sleeveless shirt. And he smokes, just like Matsuyama and Toriyama did while working on Dragon Ball.
The second instance is in the crowd of the tournament.
A similar-looking man to Matsuyama is standing in the bottom left corner and looking at you, the reader.
Third, I argue that Takashi Matsuyama’s pose in front of the Balinese split gate at the Nusa Dua Beach Hotel as seen in Part 1 of this series was the inspiration for Gokū’s pose in front of the Balinese split gate on the cover of Dragon Ball Volume 3.
Watch my video about it:
What do you think? To me it looks obvious, but I’ll admit I don’t have corroboration from Toriyama himself on these.
So I’ll let you look at the images and decide for yourself.
Toriyama’s Description: “Snapping a pic in front of a god I don’t know. I’m on the right. I took off my glasses here, and don’t I look peaceful?”
Akira Toriyama stands in front of a Balinese Hindu deity and makes an ugly face similar to the deity’s.
The deity bares his fangs and holds a decorated club.
I could not identify the name of the deity, but statues of this deity are found across Bali.
Do you recall seeing a similar deity in Dragon Ball? Let me know in the comments.
More importantly, we get an ultra-rare picture of Akira Toriyama without glasses.
And what a handsome fellow he is.
Toriyama’s Description: “A festival line that I came across while walking in town. The entire island lifestyle is religious, so they seem to be doing something related to that.”
Akira Toriyama stands on a sidewalk in front of a Balinese religious procession.
Bali is rife with Hindu religious processions. These are ritualized events that break the normal flow of time.
There are more than 4,000 Balinese temples and resulting local festivities, to the point where they say ‘every day is a festival.’
These are a big draw for tourists such as Toriyama.
In this photo you can see the man in front wearing the traditional white clothing of a Balinese priest.
Behind him are a group holding banner poles adorned with symbols.
And in the background we see the long flowing umbul-umbul banner poles that are found in Bali, and in Dragon Ball.
There’s also a thatched roof building similar to an Eastern pagoda in the background. Possibly a temple.
Perhaps Toriyama was visiting this temple and received inspiration for the Tenkaichi Budōkai grounds?
That’s the end of Akira Toriyama’s Bali Island Tour Exposé.
In total, Toriyama shared 13 pictures of his trip to Bali with his Japanese fan club members in Bird Land Press 19, in July of 1985.
It took 36 years for these pictures to see the light of day again via my work to acquire this rare magazine, scan it, and describe it.
So please share these articles with your friends, other Akira Toriyama fans, and lovers of culture and history.
This three-part series was only 3 pages out of a single issue of Bird Land Press. I have over 100 more pages of Akira Toriyama stories to share with you.