Akira Kurosawa: We had a tube running from underground up Nakadai’s leg to over his heart with fake blood flowing in it. When the compressor’s stopper was released, the fake blood shot out of Nakadai’s chest. [Script supervisor Teruyo] Nogami got covered with it. The residents of Gotenba who were watching thought that Nakadai had actually been stabbed. I’d explained earlier about the shoot, but when I said, “Cut!” one guy was waving his arms in shock. His face was white from shock and that scared me. I thought everyone knew what to expect.
Tatsuya Nakadai: I remember it clearly. [Teruyo Nogami was] counting down for us, and when [she] reached 25, we were supposed to draw our swords. As soon as I drew my sword and Mifune cut me down, I felt this impact in my chest. I wasn’t expecting it to be that strong. I was told it’d feel like a pat from a girl. I felt a thud, and everything turned red… The force nearly knocked me over, but that would have ruined the take, so I hung in there, grasping my sword… Then I fell like I was supposed to, and Mifune finished his part, and then Kurosawa called out, “Cut!” He said, “We got it in one take!” And I thought, “What do you mean, ‘we’?” [Laughter]
Nakadai and production designer Yoshirô Muraki relate that the notorious “blood explosion” at the film’s end was done in one take. At the moment that the compressor hose attached to actor Tatsuya Nakadai was activated it blew a coupling causing a much larger gush of fluid than planned. In fact it was so strong that it nearly lifted him off the ground and it took all his might to finish the scene.