Goodbye Ken Takakura. RIP. the great Japanese actor.
My aunt stated in Facebook this morning, "I though he would never die" was perhaps a feeling that many Japanese people had toward this actor. He had such an aura that makes you calm as if you lean against a big old tree.
You may know him from a film, Black Rain. He was a pure film acotr and acted in 205 films. Not only Japanese films but he also worked in some Hollywood films and Chinese films. He was very much loved in China and Korea where broadcasted his death as a news flash.
It could be the characters he played in the films but he gave us an impression of quiet and shy guy. Long time ago a phrase, "I´m clumsy" became famous because of a TV commercial and it was Takakura´s catch phrase.
But apparently he was very polite, warm and kind person who always cared about the people around him.
Ken Takakura was born in Fukuoka prefecture and when he came to Tokyo, he went to an interview to be a manager of actors. But he was hired as an actor instead and this was how he started his career. Apparently he wasn´t a good students and a teacher even said to him, "Sit over there and just watch because you disturb other people´s practice".
And that guy made his debut in Denkou Karateuchi (電光空手打ち/Lightning Karate Chop (?)) in 1956 as the main character. At the beginning, he often played a guy involved in Yakuza world or an outlaw. Not all the films are translated into other languages so the ones with (?) are my translation of the meaning of the original title.
Abashiri Bangaichi (網走番外地/Abashiri, the place with no address(?)) 1965
Karajishi Botan (唐獅子牡丹/Lion and Peony(?)) 1966
Yadonashi (無宿/Homeless(?)) 1974
Shiawase no Kiiroi Hankachi (幸せの黄色いハンカチ/The Yellow Handkerchief) 1977
This is a film of the director, Youji Yamada, which won many prizes including the best actor award at the first Japan Academy Award. In 2010, Hollywood made a re-make of this film, "Yellow Handkerchief".
Douran (動乱/Riot(?)) 1980
Nankyoku Monogatari (南極物語/Antarctica) 1983
I remember I went to see this with my school friends. I was so excited because I love dogs but I didn´t know until today it was Ken Takakura.
Black Rain 1989
He was a serious Japanese cop from Osaka.
Shiju-shichi nin no Shikyaku (４７人の刺客/47 Ronin) 1994
Poppoya (鉄道員/Poppoya) 1999
In the film, the wife of the protagonist (Takakura), her favourite song was The Tennessee Waltz. And I remembered it is also my father´s favourite song who had a stroke a few years ago.
Tanki, Senri wo Hashiru (単騎、千里を走る/Riding Alone for Thoudands Miles) 2006
This film was directed by a Chinese director, Zhang Yimou and premiered at the Tokyo International Film Festival. Takakura was one of the most loved Japanese actors in China.
Anata e (あなたへ/ To You(?)) 2012
He played with Takeshi Kitano. They become friend while both are travelling with a camping car.
Ken Takakura received an Order of Culture in 2013 because of his marvellous acting career. There, he made a comment, "I really thought I´m glad to be born as a Japanese."
In his real life he was very humorous and loved to talk unlike his quiet and emotionally clumsy characters. He is very missed by many actors and actresses in Japan.
Here is the famous "I´m clumsy" TV commercial in 1984.
Ken Takakura, often called just Ken san, is no longer with us. But his 205 works will stay with us to appreciate his presence.
I think I´m going to pick one of his films tonight to remember him and to say goodbye to this great Japanese actor.
RIP Ken Tanaka.
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