Tomisaburo Wakayama

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Tomisaburō Wakayama
Tomisaburō Wakayama
Wakayama appearing as Ogami Ittō in
the Lone Wolf and Cub movie series
Born Masaru Okumura
(1929-09-01)September 1, 1929
Fukagawa, Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
Died April 2, 1992(1992-04-02) (aged 62)
Kyoto, Japan
Occupation Actor
Years active 1955–1991
Spouse(s) Reiko Fujiwara (1963–1965)[citation needed]

Tomisaburō Wakayama (若山 富三郎 Wakayama Tomisaburō?, September 1, 1929 – April 2, 1992), born Masaru Okumura,[1] was a Japanese actor best known for playing Ogami Ittō, the scowling, 19th century ronin warrior in the six Lone Wolf and Cub samurai movies.[1][2]


Wakayama was born on September 1, 1929, in Fukagawa, a district in Tokyo, Japan.[1][3] His father was Tohiji Katsu[2] (or Katsutōji Kineya),[4] a noted kabuki performer and nagauta singer,[1] and the family as a whole were kabuki performers. He and his younger brother, Shintaro Katsu, followed their father in the theater.[1] Wakayama tired of this; at the age of 13, he began to study judo, eventually achieving the rank of 4th dan black belt in the art.[1]

In 1952, as part of the Azuma Kabuki troupe, Wakayama toured the United States of America for nine months.[2] He gave up theater performance completely after his two-year term with the troupe was over.[1] Wakayama taught judo until Toho recruited him as a new martial arts star in their jidaigeki movies.[1] He prepared for these movies by practicing other disciplines, including kenpō, iaidō, kendo, and bōjutsu.[1] All this helped him for roles in the television series The Mute Samurai,[4] the 1975 television series Shokin Kasegi,[4] and his most famous role: Ogami Ittō, the Lone Wolf.

Wakayama went on to star in many films, performing in a variety of roles. It has been estimated that he appeared in between 250 to 500 films.[4] His only roles in American movies were as a baseball coach in The Bad News Bears Go to Japan (1978) and as a yakuza boss, Sugai, in Ridley Scott's Black Rain (1989) that delivers a memorable English monologue that becomes a defining moment for the film, and the film's title.[4][5]

Wakayama died of acute heart failure on April 2, 1992, in a hospital in Kyoto.[1][4] He was survived by a son, Kiichiro Wakayama (born c. 1965), also an actor.[6]


Wakayama appeared in the following films, amongst others.





  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Leous, G. (c. 2003): Tomisaburo Wakayama Retrieved on May 23, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d Stout, J. (1981): "Tomisaburo Wakayama: The Anti-Hero of Shogun Assassin." Martial Arts Movies (August), 1(2):26–33.
  3. ^ Boryokugai: Tomisaburo Wakayama (2010). Retrieved on May 23, 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Asiateca: Tomisaburo Wakayama (August 10, 2007). Retrieved on May 24, 2010.
  5. ^ a b Nash, J. R., & Ross, S. R. (1990): The motion picture guide: 1990 annual – The films of 1989. Evanston, IL: Cinebooks. (ISBN 978-0-9339-9729-5)
  6. ^ Sankei Sports: 若山騎一郎&仁美凌、熱愛発覚!交際5年 (Japanese) (March 31, 2010). Retrieved on May 24, 2010.
  7. ^ Cowie, P., & Elley, D. (1977): World Filmography: 1967 (p. 342). London: Tantivy. (ISBN 978-0-4980-1565-6)
  8. ^ Hong Kong Cinema: Red Peony Gambler (c. 2006). Retrieved on May 24, 2010.
  9. ^ Desjardins, C. (2005): Outlaw masters of Japanese film (p. 8). London: Tauris. (ISBN 978-1-8451-1086-4)
  10. ^ a b Maltin, L. (2005): Leonard Maltin's 2006 movie guide. New York: Plume. (ISBN 978-0-4522-8699-3)
  11. ^ Palmer, B., Palmer, K., & Meyers, R. (1995): The encyclopedia of martial arts movies. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press. (ISBN 978-0-8108-3027-1)
  12. ^ Maltin, L. (2002): Leonard Maltin's 2003 movie & video guide. London: Penguin. (ISBN 978-0-4522-8329-9)

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