Shintaro Katsu

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Shintaro Katsu
Shintarō Katsu in Hatsu-haru Tanuki Goten 1959.jpg
The Badger Palace: Happy New Year (初春狸御殿 Hatsu Haru, Tanuki-goten)
Born Toshio Okumura
(1931-11-29)November 29, 1931
Fukagawa, Tokyo, Japan
Died June 21, 1997(1997-06-21) (aged 65)
Kashiwa, Chiba, Japan
Occupation Actor, singer, producer,
writer and director
Spouse(s) Tamao Nakamura

Shintaro Katsu (勝 新太郎 Katsu Shintarō?), November 29, 1931 – June 21, 1997, was a Japanese actor, singer, producer, and director.

Life and career[edit]

He was born Toshio Okumura (奥村 利夫 Okumura Toshio) on November 29, 1931. He was the son of kabuki performer Katsutoji Kineya (Kineya Katsutōji) who was renowned for his nagauta and shamisen skills, and younger brother of actor Tomisaburo Wakayama (Wakayama Tomisaburō).

Shintaro Katsu began his career in entertainment as a shamisen player. He switched to acting because he noticed it was better paid. In the 1960s he starred simultaneously in three long-running series of films, the Akumyo series, the Hoodlum Soldier series, and the Zatoichi series.

He played the role of blind masseur Zatoichi in a series of films in 25 movies between 1962 and 1973, starred and directed a 26th in 1989 and played the role in four seasons of a spin-off television series.[1]

After the closing of Daiei Studios, Katsu formed the company Katsu Productions.[2]

Katsu had a troubled personal life. A heavy drinker, Katsu had several skirmishes with the law regarding drug use as well, including marijuana, opium, and cocaine with arrests in 1978, 1990, and 1992.[1]

He had also developed a reputation for being something of a troublemaker on set. When director Akira Kurosawa cast him for the lead role in Kagemusha (1980), Katsu left before the first day of shooting was over.[3] Though accounts differ as to the incident, the most consistent one details Katsu's clash with Kurosawa regarding bringing his own film crew to the set (to film Kurosawa in action for later exhibition to his own acting students).[4][5] Kurosawa is reputed to have taken great offense at this, resulting in Katsu's termination (he was replaced by Tatsuya Nakadai). In her recent book, Waiting On The Weather, about her experiences with director Kurosawa, script supervisor Teruyo Nogami chalks the differences between Katsu and Kurosawa up to a personality clash that had unfortunate artistic results.[6]

He was the husband of actress Tamao Nakamura (married in 1962), and father of actor Ryutaro Gan (Gan Ryūtarō).[7]

Stunt actor Yukio Kato was killed on the set of Zatoichi 26 by Katsu's son, who was co-starring, when an actual sword was mistaken for a prop, fatally wounding Kato.

In her book, Geisha, A Life, famed Kyoto geisha Mineko Iwasaki claims a long time affair with Katsu, whom she calls by his given name, Toshio. The affair ended in 1976, and eventually the two became good friends until his death.[citation needed]

Katsu produced the manga-based Lone Wolf and Cub (Kozure Okami) series of jidaigeki films starring his brother Tomisaburo Wakayama which were later compiled into the movie Shogun Assassin, as well as co-writing, producing, and acting alongside his brother in the TV series "Oshi Samurai" ("The Mute Samurai").

His other television work includes the police drama "Keishi-K" ("Superintendent K") which he starred in (as Katsutoshi Gatsu), co-wrote, directed, and produced. His daughter, Masami Okumura, co-starred.

His film work includes the Hanzo the Razor series, as Detective Itami Hanzo. He was also an accomplished shamisen player, as well as a vocalist, recording several albums in both pop and Enka.

He died of Pharyngeal cancer on June 21, 1997.



  • Zatôichi to Yôjinbô aka Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo (1970) (producer)
  • Zatôichi abare-himatsuri aka Zatoichi at the Fire Festival (1970) (producer)
  • Ali, the Fighter aka Ali the Man: Ali the Fighter (1971) (producer)
  • Shin Zatôichi: Yabure! Tojin-ken aka Zatoichi Meets the One Armed Swordsman (1971) (producer)
  • Kaoyaku (1971) (executive producer)
  • Goyôkiba aka Hanzo the Razor: Sword of Justice (1972) (producer)
  • Zatôichi goyô-tabi aka Zatoichi at Large(1972) (producer)
  • Shin heitai yakuza: Kasen (1972) (producer)
  • Kozure Ôkami: Kowokashi udekashi tsukamatsuru aka Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance(1972) (producer)
  • Kozure Ôkami: Sanzu no kawa no ubaguruma aka Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx (1972) (producer)
  • Kozure Ôkami: Shinikazeni mukau ubaguruma aka Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades (1972) (producer)
  • Shin Zatôichi monogatari: Oreta tsue aka Zatoichi in Desperation (1972) (producer)
  • "Oshi samurai" TV Series (executive producer)(1973)
  • Shin Zatôichi monogatari: Kasama no chimatsuri aka Zatoichi's Conspiracy (1973)
  • Goyôkiba: Kamisori Hanzô jigoku zeme aka Hanzo the Razor: The Snare (1973)
  • Yadonashi (1974) (producer)
  • Goyôkiba: Oni no Hanzô yawahada koban aka Hanzo the Razor: Who's Got the Gold? (1974) (producer)
  • Akumyo: shima arashiaka Akumyo: Notorious Dragon (1974)
  • Shogun Assassin (1980) (producer)
  • Zatôichi aka Shintaro Katsu's Zatoichi (1989)


  • Kaoyaku (1971)
  • Shin Zatôichi monogatari: Oreta tsue aka Zatoichi in Desperation (1972)
  • "Oshi samurai" (1973) TV Series
  • "Zatôichi monogatari" (1974) TV Series (episode "A Memorial Day and the Bell of Life")
  • Zatôichi aka Zatoichi: Darkness Is His Ally (1989)


  • Zatôichi abare-himatsuri aka Zatoichi at the Fire Festival (1970)
  • Kaoyaku (1971)
  • Zatôichi aka Zatoichi: Darkness Is His Ally (1989) (screenplay)


  • The Blind Swordsman (documentary) (1978)


  • Zatoichi Monogatari (actor, writer, director)
  • Shin Zatoichi Monogatari (actor, writer, director)
  • Shin Zatoichi (actor, writer, director)
  • Oshi Samurai (The Mute Samurai) (actor, writer, director)
  • Keishi-K (Superintendent K) (actor, writer, director)


  1. ^ a b West, David (2006). Chasing dragons: an introduction to the martial arts film. I.B.Tauris. p. 33. ISBN 978-1-85043-982-0. Retrieved 16 October 2010. 
  2. ^ Standish, Isolde (8 May 2006). A New History of Japanese Cinema: A Century Of Narrative Film. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 359. ISBN 978-0-8264-1790-9. Retrieved 16 October 2010. 
  3. ^ Galloway, Patrick (1 May 2005). Stray dogs & lone wolves: the samurai film handbook. Stone Bridge Press, Inc. p. 184. ISBN 978-1-880656-93-8. Retrieved 16 October 2010. 
  4. ^ Kurosawa, Akira; Cardullo, Bert (2008). Akira Kurosawa: interviews. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 68. ISBN 978-1-57806-997-2. Retrieved 16 October 2010. 
  5. ^ Cowie, Peter (1981). International film guide. Tantivy Press. p. 205. ISBN 978-0-498-02530-3. Retrieved 16 October 2010. 
  6. ^ Nogami, Teruyo (2006). Waiting on the weather: making movies with Akira Kurosawa. Stone Bridge Press, Inc. pp. 251–60. ISBN 978-1-933330-09-9. Retrieved 16 October 2010. 
  7. ^ Galloway, Patrick (1 May 2005). Stray dogs & lone wolves: the samurai film handbook. Stone Bridge Press, Inc. p. 40. ISBN 978-1-880656-93-8. Retrieved 16 October 2010. 

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