March 24, 1947
Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan
Meiko Kaji (梶 芽衣子 Kaji Meiko?), born March 24, 1947 in Chiyoda, Tokyo is a Japanese actress and singer. She has appeared in about 100 films, with her most famous roles being outlaw characters in early 1970s films, such as the rebels of the Stray Cat Rock series, the assassin Lady Snowblood, or the murderous Sasori from the Female Convict 701: Scorpion series.
Life and career
Meiko Kaji was born in the Kanda area of Tokyo and graduated from the Yakumo Academy high school in Meguro, Tokyo. She began work in the film industry under her real name, Masako Ota, at Nikkatsu studio in 1965 after graduating from high school. In 1969 she appeared in Nihon Zankyoden, one of a series of films directed by Masahiro Makino, who recognized her acting ability and gave her the stage name of Meiko Kaji. From 1970 to 1971 she appeared in the Noraneko Rokku (Stray cat/Alleycat Rock) series of films about delinquent young people.
In 1971, Nikkatsu moved into the pink film business, and to avoid this, Kaji moved to Toei Company. There she made the Female Convict 701: Scorpion series of films. In 1973 she took on the role of Yuki in the revenge-themed film Lady Snowblood, followed by a sequel, Lady Snowblood 2: Love Song of Vengeance. She went on to appear in several of Kinji Fukasaku's films, such as Yakuza Graveyard (1976). In 1978, she starred in Sonezaki Shinjū, for which she earned nominations for Best Actress at five different awards shows, winning four of them.
Kaji has worked in television since the 1980s. In 1989 she portrayed Omasa, an informant, in the television jidaigeki Onihei Hankachō (the Shochiku–Fuji Television version starring kabuki actor Nakamura Kichiemon II).
She is also a singer. She sang the theme song to Lady Snowblood, "Shura no Hana" (修羅の花), and the theme song of the Female Convict Scorpion series, "Urami Bushi" (怨み節). When these songs were both used in Kill Bill, it led to a revival of interest in her music. Her songs were released on CD for the first time. This encouraged her to resume her musical career. In 2009 she released a single, Onna wa yametai. In 2011 Kaji put out her first new album in 31 years, Aitsu no suki-so-na burūsu (あいつの好きそなブルース) with songs written by Ryudo Uzaki and Yoko Aki.
With the renewed interest in her due to Kill Bill, she also received many offers of acting roles from Hollywood, but refused them all, saying she could not give a good performance in a language other than Japanese.
- The Blind Woman's Curse aka The Tattooed Swordswoman aka The Haunted Life of a Dragon-Tattooed Lass (怪談昇り竜 Kaidan nobori ryū?) (June 1970, d. Teruo Ishii)
- Shinjuku Outlaw - Step on the gas (新宿アウトロー ぶっ飛ばせ Shinjuku autorō - Buttobase?) (Oct. 1970)
- The Stray Cat Rock series (1970–71)
- The Sasori series (1972–73)
- The Gincho series (1972)
- Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Hiroshima Deathmatch (1973)
- Lady Snowblood (1973)
- Lady Snowblood 2: Love Song of Vengeance (1974)
- The Homeless (1974)
- Lullaby of the Earth (大地の子守唄 Daichi no komoriuta?) (June 1976, d. Yasuzo Masumura)
- Yakuza Graveyard (1976)
- Double Suicide of Sonezaki (1978)
- Tree Without Leaves (1986)
- Sasagawa Saho Matatabi Shirizu - Kuresakatouge e no chisou (1972) - Oshizu
- Terauchi Kantarō Ikka (1974) TV series .... Shizue Terauchi
- Sorekara no Musashi (1981) TV series ... Yuri-hime
- Kaseifu wa mita! 2 (1984) (TV)
- Sutaa tanjō (1985) TV series
- Tantei Kamizu Kyōsuke no satsujin suiri 8: Izu Shimoda-kaigan ni akai satsui ga hashiru (1988) (TV) .... Shōko Hamano
- Aoi sanmyaku '88 (1988) .... Umetaro
- Onihei hankachō (1989) TV series .... Omasa
- Onihei hankachō (1995) ... aka Onihei's Detective Records (International: English title)
- Kenkaku Shōbai (1998) TV series
- Kaseifu ha mita! 21 (2003) (TV) .... Mayumi Hirao
- Anata no tonari ni dare ka iru (2003) TV series .... Shimako Matsumoto
- Nogaremono orin (2006) TV series
- Hasshū mawari kuwayama jūbei (2007) TV series
|Tokyo Nagaremono (東京流れ者)|
|Urami Bushi (怨み節)||Single||words by Shunya Itō, music by Shunsuke Kikuchi||Theme from the Sasori series of films.|
|Onna no Jumon (女の呪文)||words by Shunya Itō, music by Shunsuke Kikuchi|
|Shura no Hana (修羅の花)||Words by Kazuo Koike, music by Masaaki Hirao||Theme from the Lady Snowblood series of films.|
|Meiko no Yume wa Yoru Hiraku (芽衣子の夢は夜ひらく)||words by Ou Yoshida, music by Koumei Sone|
|Samishiki Yuube (淋しき夕べ)|
|Minami Kaze (南風)|
|Onna Hagure Uta (おんなはぐれ唄)||1973|
|Tamoto ni Haru Kaze||1975|
|Onna o yametai||2009||Single|
Awards and nominations
- Won: Best Actress for The Love Suicides at Sonezaki
- D., Chris (2005). "Meiko Kaji". Outlaw Masters of Japanese Film. London ; New York: I.B. Tauris. p. 59. ISBN 1-84511-086-2.
- Isoda, Tsutomu (31 August 2008). Nihon Eiga Meisaku Kanzen Gaido: Shōwa No Autorō Hen Besuto 400 1960-1980 [Complete Guide to Classic Japanese Films: 400 Best Outlaw Films of the Showa Era 1960-1980] (in Japanese). p. 71. ISBN 978-4-401-75122-8.
- "Profile at Ameba.Jp", 梶芽衣子プロフィール (ameba.jp), retrieved February 9, 2012
- "Sonezaki Shinju (1978) Awards". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved December 19, 2008.
- Shiina, Muneyuki (1 June 2011). "Kaji Meiko Interview at Rooftop magazine" (in Japanese). Retrieved 16 February 2012.
- 梶芽衣子、３１年ぶりの切れ味 オリジナルアルバム発売, asahi.com, 1 June 2011. Accessed 3 June 2011.
- Shinsuke Kasai (interviewer), Meiko Kaji (interviewee) (2012). Nihon Eiga Retorosupekutibu. Nihon Eiga Senmon Channeru.
- "報知映画賞ヒストリー" (in Japanese). Cinema Hochi. Retrieved 2010-01-26.
- Rikke Schubart: Super Bitches and Action Babes: The Female Hero in Popular Cinema, 1970–2006 (McFarland & Company, USA 2007) ISBN 978-0-7864-2924-0: Contains a chapter on Meiko Kaji.
- Meiko Kaji at the Internet Movie Database
- Meiko Kaji Official Blog (Japanese)
- Meiko Kaji at the Japanese Movie Database (Japanese)
- Meiko Kaji LiveJournal community
- Schubart, Rikke. "Meiko Kaji: "Woman walking at the brink of life and death"". medievidenskab. Archived from the original on 2007-07-02. Retrieved 2007-07-06.
- Yahoo Japan Profile (Japanese)