Goodbye Ken Takakura. RIP. the great Japanese actor.

November 18, 2014 Juju Kurihara Entertainment, Films, news Tags: 0 Comments

gougai20141118Today, the news "Ken Takakura passed away" shocked Japan. He had been treated for lymphoma but on the 10th of this month, he passed away.

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. 



bukiyouIt 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. 


denkokarateKen 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

ken takakura


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". 

yellow handkerchief 1


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. 

black rain 2


Shiju-shichi nin no Shikyaku (47人の刺客/47 Ronin) 1994

47 ronin


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 san

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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