Photo/IllutrationA “patrol car” dodges an explosion at Iizuka Nisshinkan Junior high school in Iizuka, Fukuoka Prefecture, on June 18. (Masahiro Kakihana)

  • Photo/Illustraion

IIZUKA, Fukuoka Prefecture--A multifaceted show-business worker, inspired by TV detective dramas in his childhood, is promoting his hometown by blowing things up.

Kenta Nagayoshi, 47, who was born in Iizuka, was responsible for the huge explosion on the grounds of Iizuka Nisshinkan Junior high school last month.

The detonation was part of his idea to promote the city as a shooting site for scenes of explosions in TV dramas and movies.

As an elementary school student, Nagayoshi watched filming of the TV police drama “Seibu Keisatsu” (Western police) in Fukuoka. He was stunned to see dozens of cars exploding or flipping over.

He recalls the camera operators and stuntmen working with alacrity as if “they were setting off fireworks.”

Nagayoshi felt comfortable in the often tense environment, and the experience prompted him to pursue a career in the entertainment industry.

He has produced, directed and created imagery for various entertainment productions.

When he was filming in an abandoned mine, he recalled the scene of an explosion from “Seibu Keisatsu.”

“This site has just nothing,” he thought at the time. “Why don’t we invite a shooting team from ‘Seibu Keisatsu’?”

In fact, very few areas in the country allow producers of TV dramas or films to film scenes of explosions or car accidents.

Nagayoshi came up with the idea to promote the Chikuho area in northern Kyushu, which includes Iizuka, as a location for detonations and stunt performances.

With the cooperation of local governments and residents, he held a series of events in January to give the public a chance to experience a real-life explosion.

During the first round of the events, participants aboard a “patrol car” that weaved through explosions snapped pictures of the scene with their smartphones.

The images were later posted on Instagram.

In the second round, a bazooka was fired.

The third round featured participants dressed up as detectives engaging in gun fights with “suspects” in obsolete train cars. The train cars were later blown up through a collaboration with Heisei Chikuho Railway Co., a joint public-private venture.

Security and safety issues were carefully worked out through consultations with firefighters and police before each event. Companies that specialize in fireworks or special effects were the ones responsible for setting up the explosives and detonating them.

Experienced auto racers drove the cars during the events.

On June 18, Nagayoshi also had a blast at his alma mater, Nisshinkan Junior high school.

After information and warnings were conveyed to the neighboring residents, an enormous explosion rocked the school grounds.

A “patrol car” ran for a minute, narrowly avoiding the blaze that spread from the detonation.

Students at the school viewed the blast from a safe distance.

“I would watch explosions in ‘Kamen Rider’ (Masked rider) on TV when I was a child,” Jin Tanaka, 14, a third-year student, said. “But it was extremely powerful to get a close-up view of it. The air rushed toward us, and it was hot.”

Nagayoshi said, “We would like to keep sites in Japan where creators can shoot live-action explosion scenes instead of creating images with computer graphics.”