Akira Toriyama’s Bali Island Tour
Akira Toriyama took a trip to Bali in June, 1985. See Akira Toriyama’s pictures of Bali from Bird Land Press 19, and learn how Bali inspired Dragon Ball.
As Akira Toriyama says in Daizenshū 4:
“Papaiya Island, where the Tenkaichi Budōkai is held, is completely modeled after Bali.”
After Toriyama returned from Bali to Japan, a collection of images from his trip were then published in Bird Land Press issue 19, dated July, 1985.
Bird Land Press is a series of booklets published by the Akira Toriyama Preservation Society in Japan. The series explores his life’s work, and has exclusive stories, manga, and pictures of Toriyama’s personal experiences.
They were made by Japanese fans of Toriyama and have never been published outside of Japan. They are rare and expensive.
Thankfully, I have several of them.
I’ll now share this exclusive content with you.
Bali is a tropical island in Indonesia.
It’s located northwest of Australia, Southeast of Thailand and Vietnam, and far Southwest of Japan.
Bali is considered to be the world’s #1 tropical destination.
It is a popular destination spot for Japanese tourists.
There are Japanese-Balinese tour group companies that create websites to cater to Japanese buyers. They then pay for Balinese tour guides to take Japanese visitors around the island and show them a good time.
Toriyama is one such tourist.
Toriyama’s Trip to Bali
Toriyama says in the Weekly Shōnen Jump note to Dragon Ball Chapter 28:
“Next week I’m going to Bali. I bet it’ll feel great to zoom along the beach on my motorbike.”
This brings us to our first picture, on page 2 of Bird Land Press 19. It fills the page.
Here we see Akira Toriyama standing on a walkway with three other people, in front of a large gate.
The headline in Japanese says, “Bali Island Tour”.
The subhead by Toriyama says:
“I have enjoyed my leisure time in Bali, a paradise island in the South Sea.”
On the top left you see Toriyama’s self-portrait, with his signature face mask.
Toriyama wore face masks before they were cool.
Cutting back to the people, in real-life he’s also sporting an awesome fanny pack, per 1980s fashion.
Who are these other people?
Toriyama describes the image with text in the left sidebar:
“The absolute best resort hotel in Sadua, Bali. Here we are at the main gate of Nusa Dua Beach Hotel. Unfortunately, it’s not the hotel we stayed at. I just went on a tour. From the left: Me, the Wife, Matsuyama-kun, and our Central Balinese friend Wayan Budhiyasa.”
Let’s explore these in the same order Toriyama did.
Nusa Dua Beach Hotel
The Nusa Dua Beach Hotel is a 5-star hotel and spa in Bali.
The facility is luxurious, with perfect beaches, master suites, spa’s, pools, dining, and a large main gate.
This gateway is the entrance to the Nusa Dua Beach Hotel.
Here’s my video explaining how I found the exact location of the split gate at the Nusa Dua Beach Hotel:
You can see here in this 360-degree tour, that this is the exact spot where Akira Toriyama was standing in 1985.
Toriyama was looking toward the front door of the hotel. So when I rotate the view, you can see the exact view that Akira Toriyama had when this picture was taken.
Here is what it looks like from the other side of the split gate, when you are facing the hotel after you pull up in your car:
So now that you know the exact location where Akira Toriyama stood, you can go to this hotel and recreate this historic photograph.
Just be sure to bring your fanny pack! Be cool like the Rock!!
And in case you didn’t know, Balinese split gates are used in Balinese Hinduism as a spiritual entryway into temples and other sacred sites. They are common sites in Bali.
As a result of Toriyama’s trip, they appear throughout the Tenkaichi Budōkai grounds.
You can learn more about Balinese split gates in my article about the cultural origin of the Tenkaichi Budōkai.
And read an even better version in Dragon Ball Culture Volume 3.
Now let’s look at the other people in the picture.
Toriyama’s Tour Group
The first is Akira Toriyama’s wife, Mikami Nachi, standing in the middle.
Mikami Nachi was also a manga author before she married Toriyama. She wrote The Top and Bottom of Rock and Roll (1977) and The Confusing Legend of St. Mephisto (1985).
After marriage, she quit her career to support her husband and have children.
Standing on the right is Akira Toriyama’s lone assistant, Takashi Matsuyama.
Toriyama refers to him as Matsuyama-kun because kun is a Japanese honorific for people who are younger than you. Toriyama is older than Matsuyama, and is his boss, so he addresses him with kun.
Matsuyama served Toriyama as his faithful lone assistant for many years, and they shared many similar interests, including model building.
But the real star of this photograph is the young man sitting on the walkway, named Wayan Budhiyasa.
His hat was obscuring his face, so Mikami Nachi bent his hat upward so the light could shine on him.
This young man, whom Toriyama refers to as “our Central Balinese friend” is actually their tour guide.
He is the one who took Toriyama’s group around the island of Bali to show them the wonderful destinations.
Suprise! Wayan Budhiyasa is in Dragon Ball.
Akira Toriyama liked his Balinese tour guide so much that he added him into the manga after returning home to Japan.
He appears in the final page of Dragon Ball Chapter 32, The Tenkaichi Budōkai Begins!!, published July 9, 1985.
This is a two-page spread of Goku, Krillin, and Roshi’s first arrival at the front gate of the 21st Tenkaichi Budōkai.
Look to your left, at the man who is staring directly at you, the reader.
This is Toriyama’s rendering of Wayan Budhiyasa.
Because Wayan’s face is dark in the main photograph we’re discussing, I’m going to include an additional image from Page 3 of Bird Land Press 19.
Here we can see Wayan Budhiyasa eating lobsters at a seafood restaurant with Akira Toriyama and Matsuyama-kun.
Here are the two images side by side.
Now you can see that the illustration in Dragon Ball of Budhiyasa looks like the real person.
And if that weren’t enough proof, when you look closely at his clothes, you can see it says “BUDHIYASA” right on his shirt sleeve!
Toriyama wrote Budhiyasa’s name in English, even though his audience is Japanese, because he is a fan of using English lettering in his manga.
Another piece of evidence is the sticker on Roshi’s suitcase.
It says, “BALI” and “WAYAN” on it.
So in the Japanese reading order of right to left, you get “Bali” plus “Wayan” plus “Budhiyasa.”
As an aside, was Roshi’s suitcase modeled after Toriyama’s own suitcase, which perhaps received a “Bali Wayan” sticker on it from his tour guide? Food for thought.
The above rendition of Budhiyasa is from the Full-Color Comics Edition of Dragon Ball, where he has a Balinese skin tone. This skin tone is not found in the original black and white serialized manga and volumized kanzenban.
In the original black and white, an indicator that Wayan’s character is Balinese is that he’s carrying a Balinese cloth drawstring knapsack.
Other details in this drawing are the Balinese split gate in the background that resembles the one Toriyama’s group is standing in front of in real life.
Plus, the traditional Balinese Hindu clothing that the Name Registration man is wearing, the Balinese umbrella’s in the background, and the thatched roof buildings that make up the Tenkaichi Budōkai’s martial arts temple.
And to further strengthen Budhiyasa’s importance in the scene, Krillin is looking right at him.
Wayan’s Second Appearance
Believe it or not, Wayan Budhiyasa appears a second time in Dragon Ball!
Having walked through the split gate to watch the tournament, he’s now in the crowd to watch the main matches.
Here’s a scene where the Announcer is on stage to let everyone in the audience know that the main matches are about to begin.
You’d think that everyone in the audience would be looking at the Announcer.
Instead, the people on the left are looking toward the right. And the people on the right are looking toward the left.
Both sides are looking at the man in the middle of the crowd, and he is looking directly at you, the reader.
When we compare this man in the crowd with Toriyama’s illustration of Wayan in front of the split gate, we notice a similarity.
They have the same haircut, face, and pose, with both men looking right at you from the pages of the manga.
So both men are Wayan Budhiyasa. However, one of them was likely drawn by Akira Toriyama, while the other, in the crowd, was likely drawn by Matsuyama.
I say this because I know it was Toriyama’s job to draw the main figures and action for each panel, while Matsuyama drew the background characters and environments.
So I suspect that Toriyama drew the original illustration in front of the gate, and then Matsuyama used that previous illustration as the model for his background character in the crowd.
You may notice that in the Full Color edition, his skin tone in the crowd is not the same as in front of the gate. I suspect that’s because the colorist didn’t realize that it’s the same person. I’m pretty sure that I’m the first person in the world to realize that this is also Wayan Budhiyasa.
However, this is not a problem in the original black and white manga by Toriyama and Matsuyama, where you can see that they have the same skin tone.
Wayan Budhiyasa and Akira Toriyama
Wayan Budhiyasa must have been a great tour guide because Akira Toriyama immortalized him in his manga.
Toriyama’s artistic eye captures Budhiyasa’s likeness so well that it is still possible to connect the dots 26 years later.
In fact, they became good friends. Toriyama mentions Wayan Budhiyasa in the introduction to Dragon Ball Chapter 42, premiering on September 17, 1985,:
“I got a letter from Wayan-kun, a friend I made in Bali. That was really fun!!”
How did they become something more than a tour guide and his group?
I found an archived website of a tour group company that Wayan Budhiyasa worked for, known as Bali Cicak (pronounced Bahlee CheeChahk).
The site was written in Japanese for Japanese tourists, as I described before, but I translated it to English.
The second entry of the list of tour guides is none other than Wayan Budhiyasa.
Once translated, we learn more about Mr. Budhiyasa.
He goes by the nickname of “Budy.”
He was born in the Ubud region of Bali. This is one hour’s drive north of where Toriyama visited the Nusa Dua Beach Hotel.
He was born on July 22, 1964. This means that Wayan was 21 years old when Toriyama visited Bali in June of 1985.
This site says he had been a guide for 18 years.
However, there’s a discrepancy with this date here, because the earliest archived version of this site I could find was from 2004. This would mean he started in 1986, 1 year after Toriyama’s visit.
So this could mean Wayan was 19 years older in this photograph then in Toriyama’s picture from ’85.
It could also mean that either he had been with this company longer than that, but no older archive of the site was available, or he was with a different tour group company at the time of Toriyama’s visit.
Either way, this group, Bali Cicak, is headquartered in Bali and caters to Japanese tourists, so if it wasn’t this group that guided Toriyama, it was one just like it.
And considering that I couldn’t find any other place online where Wayan Budhiyasa was mentioned, for now it’s safe to presume that this was the company that provided Toriyama’s tour.
I attempted to contact them for clarification, but their site is no longer live, so my email bounced back.
Most importantly, Budhiyasa’s profile says his hobby is “watching movies.”
As you know from reading my articles and books, Akira Toriyama’s favorite hobby is watching movies.
For example, Dragon Ball was inspired by Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan’s movies, and Toriyama is a huge fan of both actors.
Read my Akira Toriyama Vs. Jackie Chan interview translation from Bird Land Press 22.
This may explain why Toriyama and Budhiyasa were able to become such good friends while on his tour, and why they stayed in touch afterward.
How cool would it be to have Akira Toriyama give you his address and welcome your letters? Imagine Toriyama writing back to you!
On a related note in case you were curious, a Cicak is the Asian house gecko, a small variant located in Southeast Asia, including Bali, where they are considered lucky omens.
You can see in their company logo the katakana Japanese lettering for the equivalent Chicha (チチャ).
But we’re still not done with this photograph.
For there lies another secret hidden within it and the pages of Dragon Ball.
And not only that, but there are still TWO MORE PAGES of Toriyama’s trip to Bali for us to explore together in Bird Land Press 19.
Read Part 2 of my exposé on Akira Toriyama’s Bali Island Tour!