Ken Shimura

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Ken Shimura
Ken Shimura.jpg
Yasunori Shimura (志村 康徳)

(1950-02-20)20 February 1950[1]
Died29 March 2020(2020-03-29) (aged 70)
Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan
EducationTokyo Metropolitan Kurume High School [ja]
  • Comedian
  • actor
  • voice actor
  • singer
  • television personality
Years active1972–2020
Same year/generation as:
Beat Takeshi
Shofukutei Tsurube II

Ken Shimura (志村 けん, Shimura Ken) (born Yasunori Shimura (志村 康徳, Shimura Yasunori), 20 February 1950 – 29 March 2020) was a Japanese comedian. He co-starred with Masashi Tashiro, Nobuyoshi Kuwano in the Japanese variety show Shimura Ken no Bakatono-sama [ja].[2][3]

Throughout his comedy career, Shimura was known for his "Bakatono-sama" character, which was unusual among Japanese comedians, in that he could satirize the deeds of powerful figures (a company president, a politician, a family head, a school principal, the head of a Japanese yakuza gang) under the garb of a foolish king who lived in the country a long time ago. Another popular routine of Shimura in the same show was "Henna Oji-san" [weird/dirty old man] who entertained himself in the company of nubile girls. After being caught for his pranks, the character regularly ended the routine with a song 'Sou desu. Watashi ga Henna Oji-san desu'. ("That is correct. I am Henna Oji-san.") He was also known for his nonsense catchphrase "Daffunda" which would often end a Henna Oji-san skit.

Shimura was most famous for starring in Hachiji Da Yo! Zen'in Shugo! [ja] with the comedy group The Drifters and Fun TV with Kato-chan and Ken-chan with Cha Kato, another former member of The Drifters.

Shimura's comedic work was inspired in part by that of Jerry Lewis.[4]


Shimura became known in 1974, replacing Chu Arai[5] in the famous comedy group The Drifters.[2] With the help of the other members of the group, he learned to act and make the audience laugh. Over time, he showed a knack for comedy. Some memorable pictures of that time are the mustache dance, in which he starred with Cha Katō and the song Higashimurayama, referring to his homeland.

With this group, he participated in the weekly program Hachiji Dayo! Zen'inshugo! from 1974 to 1985, reaching 40% to 50% of viewers at their best. From 1977, he also participated in the television program Dorifu Daibakusho ("Dorifu, big burst of laughter"), which were special sketches, totaling one and a half hours. It is currently possible to see members together only on television specials.

The rapport Shimura had with Cha Katō, also a member of Higashimurayama, kept them together on television. In 1986, they created the  Kato-chan Ken-chan Gokigen Terebi, which aired until 1992. In The Detective Story, they are two detective friends who get into a lot of trouble. The high ratings allowed for high-cost scenes with exploding cars, helicopters and crowds. A famous painting of this time is Shimura as a monk, who asked people to repeat the words "Daijoubuda, ... ueh, ueh, ueh", whereas "daijoubuda" literally means "I'm all right."

This program ran about three times a year since 1986. In it, Shimura is a feudal lord ("tono") who does not want to rule and only thinks about having fun. The character was created at the time of Hachiji Dayo! Zen'inshugo! and is characterized by an all-white face, extremely thick eyebrows and hair tied at the top of the head. The program always featured celebrity stakes.

His show, Ken Shimura Daijoubuda, a satire of modern Japanese society, aired from 1987 to 1993.[6]


Following up his previous big hits, Shimura led several shows, mostly on the Fuji TV network. From 1996, he began working with newbie Yuuka. Shimura's participation in the career of humorists (such as Katsuhiro Higo and Ryuuhei Ueshima, and Haruna Kondou and Haruka Minowa) and other celebrities is notorious.

  • 1993–1995: Shimura Ken wa Ikagadeshou ("How about a Ken Shimura") – with Masashi Tashiro, Yoko Ishino, Nobuyoshi Kuwano, Minayo Watanabe, etc.
  • 1995–1996: Shimura Ken no Ore ga Nani Shitano yo ("Ken Shimura's What the Hell Did I do?") – with Masashi Tashiro, Nobuyoshi Kuwano, Minayo Watanabe, etc.
  • 1996–1997: Shimura X – with Maiko Kawakami, Yukiko Someya, Kazumi Murata, Yuuka, Housei Yamasaki and Ryuuhei Ueshima.
  • 1997–1998: Shimura XYZ – with Maiko Kawakami, Yukiko Someya, Kazumi Murata, Yuuka, Housei Yamasaki and Ryuuhei Ueshima.
  • 1998–2000: Shimura X-Tengoku ("Shimura Paradise X") – with Maiko Kawakami, Yukiko Someya, Kazumi Murata, Yuuka, Housei Yamasaki and Ryuuhei Ueshima.
  • 2000–2002: Henna Ojisan TV ("Strange Uncle's TV") – with Yuuka, Katsuhiro Higo, Ryuuhei Ueshima, Masanori Ishii and Yoshiyuki Ishizuka.
  • 2002–2004: Shimura Ryuu ("Shimura's Style") – with Yuuka, Katsuhiro Higo, Ryuuhei Ueshima, Masanori Ishii, Yoshiyuki Ishizuka, Chizuru Yamada and Ayumi Kato.
  • 2004: Shimura Juku ("Shimura's Class") – with Yuuka, Katsuhiro Higo, Ryuuhei Ueshima, Masanori Ishii, Yoshiyuki Ishizuka, Chizuru Yamada, Ayumi Kato, etc.
  • 2004–2005: Shimura Tsuu ("Shimura, a tasteful person") – with Yuuka, Katsuhiro Higo, Ryuuhei Ueshima, Jun Natsukawa, Chizuru Yamada, etc.
  • 2005–2008: Shimura Ken no Daijoubuda II ("Ken Shimura's I'm All Right II") – with Yuuka, Katsuhiro Higo, Ryuuhei Ueshima, Wakako Shimazaki, Jun Natsukawa and Chen Qu.
  • 2004–2020: Tensai! Shimura Dōbutsuen ("Genius! Shimura Zoo") – with chimpanzee Pankun and his son.
  • 2008–2020: Shimura Ya Desu ("It's Shimura's Store") – with Yuuka, Katsuhiro Higo, Ryuuhei Ueshima, Haruna Kondou, Haruka Minowa, Emi Kobayashi and Erika Yazawa.

In 2001, Shimura formed a duet with Naoko Ken as "Ken♀♂Ken" in "Ginza atari de Gin Gin Gin" (銀座あたりでギンギンギン).

In 2006, he formed and led his own comedy theater, Shimurakon (Shimura Spirit).[7]

Tensai! Shimura Dōbutsuen continued airing after Shimura's death, with on air remembrances of his time with the animals. On July 4, 2020, it was reported that Nippon TV had decided to end the broadcast, citing that it would be painfully difficult and heartbreaking to continue filming in a set filled with memories, that was destined for Shimura's advice. The last broadcast was set for September.[8][9]

Illness and death[edit]

Shimura was hospitalized for severe pneumonia on 20 March 2020; he lost consciousness after being anesthetized and hooked up to a ventilator on the following day. Then, on 23 March it was confirmed that he had COVID-19.[10][11][12] He was the first Japanese tarento to have his COVID-19 diagnosis made public during the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan.[11]

On 24 March, Shimura was transferred to a hospital where ECMO was available.[11] He had been scheduled to star in the film It's a Flickering Life [ja], but his participation was cancelled on 26 March.[13] He was also slated to carry the Olympic torch through part of Tokyo prior to the 2020 Tokyo games.[5]

Shimura died on 29 March 2020 at the National Center for Global Health and Medicine [ja] in Shinjuku, Tokyo.[14][15][16] He was 70 years old.[17]



As featured artist[edit]

Title Year Peak chart positions Sales Album Certifications
"Aīn Taisō" (アイ〜ン体操) / "Aīn! Dance no Uta" (アイ〜ン!ダンスの唄)
(as Bakatono-sama with Mini-Moni Hime)
2002 3
  • JPN: 200,000+
Mini-Moni Song Daihyakka Ikkan
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that region.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 68歳誕生日. Shimura's Official Blog. 19 February 2018
  2. ^ a b Frishberg, Hannah (30 March 2020). "Ken Shimura, 'Japan's Robin Williams,' dies from coronavirus at 70". New York Post. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  3. ^ Ripley, Will; Wakatsuki, Yoko (30 March 2020). "Ken Shimura, famed Japanese comedian, died at 70 after contracting coronavirus". CNN.
  4. ^ "Ken Shimura dead of coronavirus; Japanese comic was 70 years old". USA Today. 30 March 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Japanese comedian Ken Shimura dies of coronavirus-related pneumonia". Kyodo News+. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  6. ^ Mijola, Camille (30 April 2020). "Ken Shimura: Comedian whose slapstick characters and sketches made him a household name in Japan". The Independent. Retrieved 23 May 2022.
  7. ^ Will Ripley; Yoko Wakatsuki. "Ken Shimura, famed Japanese comedian, dead at 70 after contracting coronavirus". CNN. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  8. ^ ""相葉どうぶつ園"が10月開園 日テレ系「天才!志村どうぶつ園」は9月終了". (in Japanese). 4 July 2020. Archived from the original on 3 July 2020. Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  9. ^ "『天才!志村どうぶつ園』16年の歴史に幕 10月から相葉雅紀MCの新番組". (in Japanese). 4 July 2020. Archived from the original on 3 July 2020. Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  10. ^ "志村けん、新型コロナ陽性で入院中と発表「回復に全力で努めております」 感染経路は不明". オリコンニュース. 25 March 2020. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  11. ^ a b c "重症化…志村けん 人工心肺装着 新型コロナ感染公表 芸能界に"濃厚接触者"がいる懸念". Sponichi Annex. 26 March 2020. Retrieved 26 March 2020.
  12. ^ "志村けんさん 新型コロナ 肺炎の症状…現在も入院中". FNN. 25 March 2020. Archived from the original on 24 March 2020. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  13. ^ "志村けん、初主演映画「キネマの神様」出演を辞退 コロナ感染で事務所「申し訳なく思っております」". Retrieved 26 March 2020.
  14. ^ "Japanese comedian Ken Shimura dies from coronavirus: NHK". Reuters. 29 March 2020.
  15. ^ 志村けんさん死去 新型コロナ感染で肺炎. The Nikkei. 30 March 2020
  16. ^ コロナ感染で予断を許さない志村けんの病状と「ナゾの感染ルート」. Friday Digital. 29 March 2020
  17. ^ Rich, Motoko (2 April 2020). "Ken Shimura, Comedian Whose Sketches Delighted Japan, Dies at 70". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  18. ^ "一般社団法人 日本レコード協会" (Enter "ミニモニ。" in the アーティスト parameter and then click 検索). Recording Industry Association of Japan (in Japanese). Retrieved 16 February 2020.

External links[edit]