Kamatari Fujiwara

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Kamatari Fujiwara
Yasue Shigeo

(1905-01-15)15 January 1905
Tokyo, Japan
Died21 December 1985(1985-12-21) (aged 80)
Other namesKeita Fujiwara
Years active1933–1984

Kamatari Fujiwara (藤原釜足, Fujiwara Kamatari, 15 January 1905 – 21 December 1985) was a Japanese stage and film actor[1][2][3] who appeared in over 200 films between 1933 and 1984.[4] In addition to regular appearances in the films of Akira Kurosawa,[1][3] he worked for directors such as Mikio Naruse, Yasujirō Ozu, Heinosuke Gosho and others.

Early life and career[edit]

Fujiwara was born on 15 January 1905 in Tokyo, Japan.[1][2] Fujiwara had initially focused on music before he became known as a comic actor [5] After performing in Asakusa operas,[1][3] a popular form of opera during the Taishō era until its decline after the Great Kantō earthquake,[6] he joined Ken'ichi Enomoto's New Casino Folies.[1][3] Enomoto's troupe performed satirical stage shows in an era often associated with the term ero guro nansensu [ja] or "Erotic Grotesque Nonsense" era.[7][8][9]

Fujiwara gave his film debut in the 1933 film Ongaku kigeki – Horoyui jinsei (lit. "Musical comedy – Intoxicated life"), the first production of the P.C.L. studios (later Toho).[10] Most of Fujiwara's later films were Toho productions.[4] He married actress Sadako Sawamura in 1936 (divorced in 1946).[citation needed] In the late 1930s, Fujiwara found himself in trouble with the nationalist government. The authorities were pushing for artists and high profile individuals to change their names to the traditional spelling, and he was under official censure to do so. Despite this, he kept his name.[5]

Post-war career[edit]

Fujiwara's shomin persona always was that of a real-life person. Generally he played the role of an ordinary subject-citizen: petty, conservative, mediocre, far from being handsome or rich. Over time he made this his specialty.[11]

He made his first appearance in an Akira Kurosawa film in the 1952 Ikiru, playing the role of Senkichi, and became a long-time member of Kurosawa's company of actors until his death. Other films with Kurosawa include Seven Samurai, The Lower Depths, The Hidden Fortress and Yojimbo. In addition to Kurosawa, Fujiwara regularly appeared in the films of Mikio Naruse, with whom he had worked since the mid-1930s in films like Wife! Be Like a Rose!, and had roles in Heinosuke Gosho's An Inn at Osaka and Yasujirō Ozu's Tokyo Twilight. He also started appearing on TV in the 1950s,[12] including the series Ayu no uta.[3]

In 1981, Fujiwara received the Order of the Sacred Treasure, 4th Class.[3] His final film role was in Juzo Itami's The Funeral. He died in 1985 at the age of 80.


The peasant duo in Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress, played by Minoru Chiaki and Fujiwara, has repeatedly been cited as inspiration for the robot characters C-3PO and R2-D2 in Star Wars.[13][14]

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "藤原釜足". Kotobank (in Japanese). Retrieved 26 August 2023.
  2. ^ a b "藤原釜足". Kinenote (in Japanese). Retrieved 26 August 2023.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "藤原釜足". NHK (in Japanese). Retrieved 26 August 2023.
  4. ^ a b "藤原釜足". Japanese Movie Database (in Japanese). Retrieved 26 August 2023.
  5. ^ a b Davis, Richard (2019). Imaginary Conquests: Folktales, Film, and the Japanese Empire in Asia. National Taiwan University.
  6. ^ "浅草オペラ". Kotobank (in Japanese). Retrieved 26 August 2023.
  7. ^ Maeda, Ai (2004). James A. Fujii (ed.). Text and the City: Essays on Japanese Modernity Asia-Pacific: Culture, Politics, and Society. Duke University Press. pp. 147–148. ISBN 978-0-822-38562-2.
  8. ^ Silverberg, Miriam (2009). Erotic Grotesque Nonsense: The Mass Culture of Japanese Modern Times. University of California Press. pp. 235–. ISBN 978-0-520-26008-5.
  9. ^ "新カジノフォーリー". Kotobank (in Japanese). Retrieved 26 August 2023.
  10. ^ Galbraith IV, Stuart "The Toho Studios Story: A History and Complete Filmography", Scarecrow press, 2008, p.ix
  11. ^ Ginoza, Naomi "Dissonance to Affinity: An Ideological Analysis of Japanese Cinema in the 1930s" p. 271
  12. ^ "藤原釜足". TV Drama Database (in Japanese). Retrieved 26 August 2023.
  13. ^ Kempley, Rita (29 June 1984). "At Last, Kurosawa's Uncut 'Hidden Fortress'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 26 August 2023.
  14. ^ Barber, Nicholas (4 January 2016). "The film Star Wars stole from". BBC.com. Retrieved 26 August 2023.

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