Two weeks ago, a Japanese actor, Ken Takakura has passed away. He was 83 years old. He has been in 205 films in his life and `Anatae' (Dearest) became the last movie.
He seldom appeared in TV dramas, but kept being a movie star.
He always played a role of a quiet and a shy guy, who was hard to approach. He was called Japanese `Clint Eastwood'.
When he was young, he has been in many Yakuza films, and seemed to have attracted many men and later he has played a guy who has dark past --- the movie became a big hit:
The roles he played-was always a-tough-looking guy, the guy seldom smiles, not talkative or friendly, the guy who does not show his emotion or express himself. In Japan, it is different now, but it used to be said `men should not talk that much'. Should not make no fuss about trifles but keep quiet and just do what he should do. For most men, the role Ken Takakura played might have been an ideal man.
Was Ken a same kind of guy as he played?
He has got a bunch of uinique episode. We wish we could introduce all episode but there are too many! He has given expensive watches from famous brand to many younger actors and people around him- it seems successful guyes tend to give those expensive presents to other people, so it may not be a good example to show his character.
He kept friendly relations with the people living in the places where he visited for his film location. For example, after having a film location in a small village in Hokkaido, he visited the village event without no notice and gave a big surprise to the village people.
He enjoyed having time together with all staff and when people prepared him special food he always told them he preferred to have same food with other staff. When one of staff lost his family, Ken san (everyone calls him `Ken san' with affection and respect) sent him incense sticks to give prayers. Ken san lost his wife who was a singer and not only for his wife but for other actors and actresses he worked together, he frequently visited graves to give prayers.
In the movie, `The Yellow Handkerchief', he played a guy who has been released from prison. After the location, he visited the prison to see and enocourage the prisoners. There are so many episode about his relationship with staff and people he met by film location.
One time he trid to give money to a young actor who was moving (and needed money). Since it was a lot of money Ken san offered, the young actor refused to accept. Then on the day he moved, Ken san came, dressed as a mover and helped him moving!
In the movies, he was always quiet and played a guy who was not good at expressing himself, so he himself was thought to be a quiet man who loved solitude but actually, he seemed to enjoy the relationship with many people.
One small cheese company in Hokkaido was surprised to receive a letter from Ken san one day. Ken san was buying their cheese regulary- one time he sent them a letter. In his letter, he said he found the taste of their cheese a bit changed from the original taste. His letter was not a claimer's letter but was written with earnest and sincere feeling. They sent him a new pack of cheese and then Ken san wrote back (with express mail) to tell this time, the cheese tasted what it should have been. He wrote, `Making a legend takes time. I am a big fan of your product and will always be'. The owner of the cheese company keeps Ken san's letters(Ken san sent letters to them several times even afer) as their treasure. She said, she could feel Ken san was facing them in sincerity.
As an actor too- there are so many legend. When he played a guy who has been released from a prison, and went into a small rural restaurant for a meal, the scene was successful only by one time shot. The director said, it was excellent, and Ken san said he had not eaten for two days for the shooting of thi scene. There are so many other episode at movie making and everyone became to respect him once they meet Ken san.
In his last movie, `Anatahe' , he is playing a husband whose wife died leaving him two postcards with her short message. He travels to her hometown, recollecting the time they spent together and wondering what the message meant. I have not seen the movie yet, but I think many people are willing to see his last movie. Ken san has been loved and respected, he will be remembered with his tough-looking and the unique character.