Mikijirō Hira

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Mikijirō Hira
Born(1933-11-21)21 November 1933
Hiroshima, Japan
Died23 October 2016(2016-10-23) (aged 82)
Years active1956–2016
Yoshiko Sakuma (m. 1970–1984)
ChildrenTakehiro Hira

Mikijirō Hira (平 幹二朗, Hira Mikijirō, 21 November 1933 – 23 October 2016) was a Japanese actor. Starting as a stage actor in the 1950s, he also worked in film and television and was active until the time of his death. From the 1970s he starred in several of Yukio Ninagawa's productions, including an acclaimed role as Macbeth. Described as "Japan's best Shakespearean actor",[1] Hira received several awards throughout his career, including an excellence award at the 2011 National Arts Festival [ja] hosted by the Japanese government's Agency for Cultural Affairs.[2]


Early life[edit]

Hira was born in Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan.[3] After graduating from Joge High School [ja] in Jōge, Hiroshima Prefecture,[4] he studied at the training school of the Haiyuza Theatre Company and officially joined the company in 1956.[3] One of his early roles was in a production of Goethe's Faust.[4]

Acting career[edit]

Hira's television debut in the 1963 series Three Outlaw Samurai, in which he played a nihilistic masterless samurai, saw his popularity rise.[4] In 1968 he played Hamlet in a Shiki Theatre Company, a role which received very high reviews.[3]

Performance style[edit]

Hira's stage performances were heralded throughout his career. In 2009, Tokyo University professor emeritus of English literature Yushi Odashima [ja] described Hira as Japan's best Shakesperean actor, noting the incandescence he brought to his roles as mythical characters.[1] The range in his performance as King Lear, from solemnness to madness, was praised by Kindai University professor and theatre critic Kojin Nishido [ja].[1] An obituary by the Chunichi Shimbun identified Hira's special ability to deliver profound performances and his high-toned delivery of lines.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Hira married actress Yoshiko Sakuma [ja] in 1970 and they had a son, Takehiro, who was born in 1974 and is also an actor. The pair divorced in 1984.[3] In 1998 Hira received a Medal of Honour from the Japanese government and in 2005 he was appointed to the Order of the Rising Sun, 4th Class.[3]


On October 23, 2016, he died at his home in Setagaya, Tokyo at the age of 82.[3] At the time of his death he had a role in Fuji Television's Monday night drama Cain and Abel, which was taken over by Akira Terao.[5] Hira's final performance, in the second episode of Cain and Abel, was filmed on 29 September and aired on 24 October, shortly after his death.[6] Hira also had a role in NHK's production of Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit. Filming of the second season finished earlier in 2016 and is scheduled to be screened in January 2017. In the third season, to be screened in November 2017, Hira's character will be played by Takeshi Kaga.[7]



Year Title Role Director Notes
1964 Adventures of Zatoichi Gounosuke Kimiyoshi Yasuda
1964 Three Outlaw Samurai Einosuke Kikyo Hideo Gosha
1965 Sword of the Beast Gen'nosuke Hideo Gosha
1966 The Face of Another Psychiatrist Hiroshi Teshigahara
1968 The Great Adventure of Horus, Prince of the Sun Grunwald the Demon of Ice Isao Takahata Voice
1982 Willful Murder Superintendent General Okuno Kei Kumai
1982 To Trap a Kidnapper Detective Kenmochi Shunya Itō
1985 Early Spring Story Takenaka Shinichiro Sawai
1988 Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis Yasumasa Hirai Akio Jissoji
1994 Rampo Marquis Ōgawara Rintarō Mayuzumi
1997 Sharan Q no enka no hanamichi Daisuke Naruto Yōjirō Takita
2001 Pistol Opera Gorō Hanada Seijun Suzuki
2005 Azumi 2: Death or Love Sanada Masayuki Shusuke Kaneko
2005 Princess Raccoon Azuchi Momoyama Seijun Suzuki
2008 Aibō the Movie Kimihiko Mikuriya Seiji Izumi
2009 Goemon Sen no Rikyū Kazuaki Kiriya
2010 13 Assassins Doi Toshitsura Takashi Miike
2011 Ninja Kids!!! Headmaster Ōkawa Takashi Miike
2012 The Tibetan Dog Tenzing (Adult) Masayuki Kojima Voice
2013 The Eternal Zero Hasegawa Takashi Yamazaki


Year Title Role Network Notes Ref.
1963–1969 Three Outlaw Samurai Einosuke Kikyo Fuji
1970 Mominoki wa Nokotta Kai Harada NHK Taiga drama
1973 Kunitori Monogatari Saitō Dōsan NHK Taiga drama
1979 Fumō Chitai Tadashi Iki TBS
1988 Takeda Shingen Takeda Nobutora NHK Taiga drama
1992 Nobunaga Zuiten NHK Taiga drama
2001 Hōjō Tokimune Hōjō Shigetoki NHK Taiga drama
2005 Yoshitsune Emperor Go-Shirakawa NHK Taiga drama
2007 Mito Kōmon Tokugawa Mitsusada TBS
2008 Atsuhime Zusho Hirosato NHK Taiga drama
2014 Team Medical Dragon Shuzō Sakurai Fuji
2016 Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit (Season 1) Hibitonan NHK [7]
2016 Shizumanu Taiyō The Prime Minister Tonegawa WOWOW
2016 Cain and Abel (Episodes 1-2) Sōichirō Takada Fuji Final role [6]
2016 Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit (Season 2) Hibitonan NHK [7]


Dubbing roles[edit]

Awards and honours[edit]


2008: Asahi Performing Arts Awards - Artist Award (for his performances in King Lear and Yama no Kyojintachi)[8]



  1. ^ a b c "選考委員の講評" [Selection Committee Members' Reviews] (in Japanese). Asahi Shimbun. 30 January 2009. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  2. ^ "平成23年度(第66回) 文化庁芸術祭賞受賞一覧(参加公演)" [2011 (66th) Agency for Cultural Affairs National Arts Festival List of Awardees (Participating Performances)] (PDF) (in Japanese). Agency for Cultural Affairs. p. 11. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "平幹二朗さん死去 82歳 「蜷川マクベス」名演" [Mikijiro Hira, star of "Minagawa Macbeth" dead at 82] (in Japanese). Chunichi Shinbun. 24 October 2016. Archived from the original on 24 October 2016. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  4. ^ a b c "平幹二朗" [Mikijirō Hira] (in Japanese). Asahi Shimbun. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  5. ^ "平幹二朗さん代役に寺尾聰!「カインと-」主人公の祖父役で第4話から登場" [Mikijirō Hira's replacement is Akira Terao! Will appear as main character's grandfather from 4th episode of "Cain and"]. Sankei Sports (in Japanese). 31 October 2016. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  6. ^ a b "平幹二朗さん最後の出演シーンで視聴率上昇「カインとアベル」第2話の平均視聴率8・6%" [Mikijirō Hira's final scene increases ratings: Second episode of "Cain and Abel" averages 8.6%]. Hochi Shimbun (in Japanese). 25 October 2016. Archived from the original on 31 October 2016. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  7. ^ a b c "平幹二朗さん代役に鹿賀丈史「想い受け継ぎ、魂込めて」 NHK「精霊の守り人」" [Takeshi Kaga to replace Mikijirō Hira in NHK's "Moribito"]. Daily Sports (in Japanese). 31 October 2016. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  8. ^ "Asahi Performing Arts Awards 2008" (in Japanese). Asahi Shimbun. 30 January 2009. Retrieved 22 December 2016.

External links[edit]