Perhaps best known in the West for scoring Gojira (1954), Godzilla vs. Mothra (1964), and Terror of Mechagodzilla (1978), Akira Ifukube is one of the most-respected and most-beloved classical composers in Japan. Born in a small village in the northern island of Hokkaido in 1914, Ifukube was exposed to Ainu culture -- Japan's equivalent to Native Americans -- at a young age. By his own admission, the improvisational style and traditional motifs of Ainu music greatly influenced Ifukube. He even included an Ainu chant for his score of Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. While studying at Hokkaido University in the late 1920s, he started a music group with Fumio Hayasaka, who would go on to write scores for some of Akira Kurosawa's masterworks, and soon Ifukube was winning international awards for his scores. While teaching at the Tokyo Ongaku Gakko, whose students included Toshiro Mayuzumi, he wrote his first score in 1947. Outside of composing for the Godzilla series, Ifukube also wrote some 200 scores for such films as Burmese Harp, Chushingura (1963), and the beloved Zatoichi series. In 1976, he became the president of Tokyo Music University and he has since won numerous prizes for his scores and classical compositions.