Takashi Shimura

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Takashi Shimura
Shimura Takashi.JPG
Shimura in 1956.
Born 島崎 捷爾[1]
(Shoji Shimazaki)

(1905-03-12)March 12, 1905
Ikuno, Hyōgo, Japan
Died February 11, 1982(1982-02-11) (aged 76)
Tokyo, Japan
Cause of death
Other names 志村 喬
Occupation Actor
Years active 1936–1981

Takashi Shimura (志村 喬 Shimura Takashi?, March 12, 1905 – February 11, 1982) was a Japanese actor, known for his appearance in 21 of Akira Kurosawa's 30 films, including as a lead actor in Ikiru (1952) and Seven Samurai (1954).

Early life[edit]

Takashi Shimura was born in Ikuno, Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan.[2] His birth-name was Shimazaki Shōji (島崎捷爾). He entered Ikuno Primary School in 1911 and Kobe First Middle School in 1917. He missed two years of schooling because of a mild case of TB, and subsequently transferred to the middle school in Nobeoka, Miyazaki Prefecture, where his father had been transferred by his employer, Mitsubishi Mining. At Nobeoka Middle School, he became a star of the rowing club. In 1923, he entered Kansai University, but after his father's retirement the family could no longer afford the fees for a full-time course and he switched to the part-time evening course in English literature, supporting himself by working at the Osaka municipal waterworks. Among the teachers in the English Literature Department were the playwright Toyo-oka Sa-ichirō (豊岡佐一郎)and the Shakespeare scholar Tsubouchi Shikō (坪内士行). Shimura joined the University's Theatre Studies Society and in 1928 formed an amateur theatrical group, the Shichigatsu-za(七月座)with Toyo-oka as director. He began to miss work because of the time he spent on theatrical activities and eventually lost his job. He then left university to try to earn a living in the theatre. The Shichigatsu-za turned professional and began to tour, but got into financial difficulties and folded.


Shimura then returned to Osaka, where he began to appear in radio plays. In 1930 he joined the Kindaiza (近代座) thetare company and became a fully professional actor . He toured China and Japan with the Kindaiza, but in 1932 he left the company and returned to Osaka, where he appeared with the Shinseigeki (新声劇)and Shinsenza 新選座)troupes. Talking pictures were just then coming in and Shimura realised they would provide opportuinities for stage-trained actors. In 1932 he joined the Kyoto studios of the film production company Shinkō Kinema (新興キネマ). He made his film debut in the silent Ren'ai-gai itchōme (「恋愛街一丁目」). The first film i which he had spoken dialogue was the 1935 Chūji uridasu (「忠次売出す」), directed by Itami Mansaku (伊丹万作). His first substantial film role was as a detective in Mizoguchi Kenji's 1936 Osaka ElegyNaniwa erejii: 「浪華悲歌」).

Shimura as a terminally ill bureaucrat in Kurosawa's Ikiru (1952)

The film which established him as a first-rate actor was Itami Mansaku's 1936 Akanishi Kakita (「赤西蠣太」:Capricious Young Man). In 1937 he moved to Nikkatsu's Kyoto studios, and between then and 1942 appeared in nearly 100 films. His most notable role in these years was that of Keishirō in the long-running series Umon Torimono-chō (「右門捕物帖」), starring Arashi Kanjūrō (嵐寛寿郎). He also demonstrated his ability as a singer in the 1939 "cine-operetta" Oshidori uta-gassen (「鴛鴦歌合戦」: The Love-birds' Singing Contest). During this time the political regime in Japan was growing ever more oppressive, and Shimura was arrested by the Special Higher Police (Tokkō)and held for about three weeks because of his earlier association with left-wing theatre groups. He was eventually released on the recognisance of his wife Masako and fellow-actor Tsukigata Ryūnosuke (月形龍之介). (He is said to have made use of this experience later when playing a Tokkō official in Kurosawa's No Regrets for our Youth (「わが青春に悔なし」: Waga seishun ni kui nashi.)

company with Toshiro Mifune, Shimura is the actor most closely associated with Akira Kurosawa and he appeared in 21 of Kurosawa's 30 films. His roles include the doctor in Drunken Angel (1948), the veteran detective in Stray Dog (1949), the flawed lawyer in Scandal (1950), the woodcutter in Rashomon (1950), the mortally ill bureaucrat in Ikiru (1952), and the lead samurai Kambei in Seven Samurai (1954).

In fact, Kurosawa's cinematic collaboration with Shimura, from 1943 to 1980, started earlier and lasted longer than his work with Mifune (1948–65). Shimura appeared in the director's debut film Sanshiro Sugata (1943), and the last film of Kurosawa's in which he acted was Kagemusha (1980), for which Kurosawa specifically wrote a part for Shimura. However, the scene was cut from the Western release and so many did not know that he had been part of the film. The DVD release of the film by The Criterion Collection restored Shimura's footage.

Outside of his career working with Kurosawa, Shimura is probably best known for his roles in several Japanese monster films, including the scientist Kyohei Yamane in the first two Godzilla films (and the first to reprise the role before Raymond Burr in the English form of Godzilla and Megumi Odaka in the Heisei Godzilla films).

Shimura died on February 11, 1982 in Tokyo, Japan, from emphysema at the age of 76.

Partial filmography[edit]

Shimura questioning of Namika Keiko Awaji in Kurosawa's Stray Dog (1949) with Toshiro Mifune (standing)


  • Akai Unmei



External links[edit]