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Toshiro Mifune

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Toshiro Mifune
Mifune in 1954
Born(1920-04-01)April 1, 1920
Seitō, Shandong, China
DiedDecember 24, 1997(1997-12-24) (aged 77)
Resting placeKawasaki, Kanagawa, Japan
  • Actor
  • film producer
  • film director
Years active1947–1995
Sachiko Yoshimine
(m. 1950; died 1995)
PartnerMika Kitagawa
Military career
Allegiance Empire of Japan
Service/branch Imperial Japanese Army Air Service
Years of service1940–1945
Rank Sergeant
UnitAerial Photography
Battles/warsWorld War II
Japanese name
Kanji三船 敏郎
Hiraganaみふね としろう
Katakanaミフネ トシロウ

Toshiro Mifune (三船 敏郎, Mifune Toshirō, April 1, 1920 – December 24, 1997) was a Japanese actor and producer. A winner of numerous awards and accolades over a lengthy career,[1][2] Mifune is best known for starring in Akira Kurosawa's critically acclaimed jidaigeki films such as Rashomon (1950), Seven Samurai (1954), Throne of Blood (1957), The Hidden Fortress (1958) and Yojimbo (1961). He also portrayed Miyamoto Musashi in Hiroshi Inagaki's Samurai Trilogy (1954–1956), Lord Toranaga in the NBC television miniseries Shōgun, and Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto in three different films.[3] He is widely considered one of the greatest actors of all time.[4][5]

Early life[edit]

Mifune in 1939

Toshiro Mifune was born on April 1, 1920, in Seitō, Japanese-occupied Shandong (present-day Qingdao, China), the eldest son of Tokuzo and Sen Mifune.[6] His father Tokuzo was a trade merchant and photographer who ran a photography business in Qingdao and Yingkou, and was originally the son of a medical doctor from Kawauchi, Akita Prefecture.[7] His mother Sen was the daughter of a hatamoto, a high-ranking samurai official.[6] Toshiro's parents, who were working as Methodist missionaries, were some of the Japanese citizens encouraged to live in Shandong by the Japanese government during its occupation before the Republic of China took over the city in 1922.[8][9] Mifune grew up with his parents and two younger siblings in Dalian, Fengtian from the age of 4 to 19.[10]

In his youth, Mifune worked at his father's photo studio. After spending the first 19 years of his life in China, as a Japanese citizen, he was drafted into the Imperial Japanese Army Aviation division, where he served in the Aerial Photography unit during World War II.[11]


Early work[edit]

In 1947, a large number of Toho actors, after a prolonged strike, had left to form their own company, Shin Toho. Toho then organized a "new faces" contest to find new talent.

Nenji Oyama, a friend of Mifune's who worked for the Photography Department of Toho Productions, sent Mifune's resume to the New Faces audition as the Photography Department was full, telling Mifune he could later transfer to the Photography Department if he wished.[12] He was accepted, along with 48 others (out of roughly 4,000 applicants), and allowed to take a screen test for Kajirō Yamamoto. Instructed to mime anger, he drew from his wartime experiences. Yamamoto took a liking to Mifune, recommending him to director Senkichi Taniguchi. This led to Mifune's first feature role, in Shin Baka Jidai.

Mifune first encountered director Akira Kurosawa when Toho Studios, the largest film production company in Japan, was conducting a massive talent search, during which hundreds of aspiring actors auditioned before a team of judges. Kurosawa was originally going to skip the event, but showed up when Hideko Takamine told him of one actor who seemed especially promising. Kurosawa later wrote that he entered the audition to see "a young man reeling around the room in a violent frenzy ... it was as frightening as watching a wounded beast trying to break loose. I was transfixed." When Mifune, exhausted, finished his scene, he sat down and gave the judges an ominous stare. He lost the competition but Kurosawa was impressed. "I am a person rarely impressed by actors," he later said. "But in the case of Mifune I was completely overwhelmed."[13] Mifune immersed himself into the six-month training and diligently applied himself to studying acting, although at first he still hoped to be transferred to the camera department.[14]


Mifune in Seven Samurai (1954)

His imposing bearing, acting range, facility with foreign languages and lengthy partnership with acclaimed director Akira Kurosawa made him the most famous Japanese actor of his time, and easily the best known to Western audiences. He often portrayed samurai or rōnin who were usually coarse and gruff (Kurosawa once explained that the only weakness he could find with Mifune and his acting ability was his "rough" voice), inverting the popular stereotype of the genteel, clean-cut samurai. In such films as Seven Samurai and Yojimbo, he played characters who were often comically lacking in manners, but replete with practical wisdom and experience, understated nobility, and, in the case of Yojimbo, unmatched fighting prowess. Sanjuro in particular contrasts this earthy warrior spirit with the useless, sheltered propriety of the court samurai. Kurosawa valued Mifune highly for his effortless portrayal of unvarnished emotion, once commenting that he could convey in only three feet of film an emotion for which the average Japanese actor would require ten feet.[15] He starred in all three films of Hiroshi Inagaki's Samurai Trilogy (1954-1956), for which the first film in Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto was awarded an Honorary Academy Award. Mifune and Inagaki worked together on twenty films, which outnumbered his collaborations with Kurosawa, with all but two falling into the jidaigeki genre, most notably with Rickshaw Man (1958), which won the Venice Film Festival Golden Lion.[16]

From left to right: Antonio Aguilar, Toshiro Mifune, and Flor Silvestre in Animas Trujano (1964)

He was also known for the effort he put into his performances. To prepare for Seven Samurai and Rashomon, Mifune reportedly studied footage of lions in the wild. For the Mexican film Ánimas Trujano, he studied tapes of Mexican actors speaking so that he could recite all of his lines in Spanish. Many Mexicans believed that Toshiro Mifune could have passed for a native of Oaxaca due to his critically acclaimed performance. When asked why he chose Mexico to do his next film, Mifune quoted, “Simply because, first of all, Mr. Ismael Rodríguez convinced me; secondly, because I was eager to work in beautiful Mexico, of great tradition; and thirdly, because the story and character of 'Animas Trujano' seemed very human to me”. The film was nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Oscar. Interestingly, Mifune gave a Japanese pistol as a gift to then-Mexican president Adolfo López Mateos when they met in Oaxaca.[17]

Mifune has been credited as originating the "roving warrior" archetype, which he perfected during his collaboration with Kurosawa. His martial arts instructor was Yoshio Sugino of the Tenshin Shōden Katori Shintō-ryū. Sugino created the fight choreography for films such as Seven Samurai and Yojimbo, and Kurosawa instructed his actors to emulate his movements and bearing.

Mifune in Hell in the Pacific (1968)

Clint Eastwood was among the first of many actors to adopt this wandering ronin with no name persona for foreign films, which he used to great effect in his Western roles, especially in Spaghetti Westerns directed by Sergio Leone where he played the Man with No Name, a character similar to Mifune's seemingly-nameless ronin in Yojimbo.

Mifune may also be credited with originating the yakuza archetype, with his performance as a mobster in Kurosawa's Drunken Angel (1948), the first yakuza film.[citation needed] Most of the sixteen Kurosawa–Mifune films are considered cinema classics. These include Drunken Angel, Stray Dog, Rashomon, Seven Samurai, The Hidden Fortress, High and Low, Throne of Blood (an adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth), Yojimbo, and Sanjuro.

Mifune and Kurosawa finally parted ways after Red Beard. Several factors contributed to the rift that ended this career-spanning collaboration. Mifune had a passion for film in his own right and had long wanted to set up a production company, working towards going freelance. Kurosawa and Taniguchi advised against it out of concern they would not be able to cast Mifune as freely.[18] Most of Mifune's contemporaries acted in several different movies in this period. Since Red Beard required Mifune to grow a natural beard — one he had to keep for the entirety of the film's two years of shooting — he was unable to act in any other films during the production. This put Mifune and his financially strapped production company deeply into debt, creating friction between him and Kurosawa. Although Red Beard played to packed houses in Japan and Europe, which helped Mifune recoup some of his losses, the ensuing years held varying outcomes for both Mifune and Kurosawa. After the film's release, the careers of each man took different arcs: Mifune continued to enjoy success with a range of samurai and war-themed films (Rebellion, Samurai Assassin, The Emperor and a General, among others). In contrast, Kurosawa's output of films dwindled and drew mixed responses. During this time, Kurosawa attempted suicide. In 1980, Mifune experienced popularity with mainstream American audiences through his role as Lord Toranaga in the television miniseries Shogun. Yet Kurosawa did not rejoice in his estranged friend's success, and publicly made derisive remarks about Shogun.[19] In contrast, Mifune spoke respectfully of Kurosawa and loyally attended the premiere of Kagemusha.[20]

Mifune turned down an opportunity from United Artists to play the Japanese spy chief Tiger Tanaka in the James Bond film You Only Live Twice (1967).[21] According to his daughter, he also turned down an offer from George Lucas to play either Darth Vader or Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars (1977).[22]

Mifune himself was always professional, memorizing all of his lines and not carrying scripts on set.[23] He was unusually humble for an international star, and was known for treating his co-stars and crew very generously, throwing lavish catered parties for them and paying for their families to go to onsen resorts.[24][25] When American actor Scott Glenn was asked about his experience of filming The Challenge (1982) alongside Mifune, Glenn recalled disappointment that the original script (about "a surrogate father and son finding each other from completely different cultures") lost its "character-driven scenes" and was reduced to "a martial arts movie" but stated, "...I remember Mifune came to me, and he said, “Look, this is what's happening. I'm disappointed, and I know you are, but this is what it is. So you can either have your heart broken every day, or you can use this experience as an opportunity to be spending time in the most interesting time in Japan and let me be your tour guide.” So it wound up with me learning an awful lot of stuff from Toshirô."[26]

In 1979, Mifune joined the ensemble cast of the Steven Spielberg war comedy 1941 as the commander of a lost Imperial Japanese Navy submarine searching for Hollywood shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack. Mifune received wide acclaim in the West after playing Toranaga in the 1980 TV miniseries Shogun. However, the series' blunt portrayal of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the greatly abridged version shown in Japan meant that it was not as well received in his homeland.[citation needed]

The relationship between Kurosawa and Mifune remained ambivalent. Kurosawa criticized Mifune's acting in Interview magazine and also said that "All the films that I made with Mifune, without him, they would not exist".[citation needed] He also presented Mifune with the Kawashita award which he himself had won two years prior. They frequently encountered each other professionally and met again in 1993 at the funeral of their friend Ishirō Honda, but never collaborated again.[27][28]

Personal life[edit]

Among Mifune's fellow performers, one of the 32 women chosen during the new faces contest was Sachiko Yoshimine. Eight years Mifune's junior, she came from a respected Tokyo family. They fell in love and Mifune soon proposed marriage.

Director Senkichi Taniguchi, with the help of Akira Kurosawa, convinced the Yoshimine family to allow the marriage. The wedding took place in February 1950 at the Aoyama Gakuin Methodist Church.[29][unreliable source?] Yoshimine was a Buddhist but since Mifune was a Christian, they were married in church as per Christian tradition.[30]

In November of the same year, their first son, Shirō was born. In 1955, they had a second son, Takeshi. Mifune's daughter Mika [ja] was born to his mistress, actress Mika Kitagawa, in 1982. [31]

The Mifune family tomb in Kawasaki, Kanagawa

In 1992, Mifune began suffering from a serious unknown health problem. It has been variously suggested that he destroyed his health with overwork, suffered a heart attack, or experienced a stroke. He retreated from public life and remained largely confined to his home, cared for by his estranged wife Sachiko. When she died from pancreatic cancer in 1995, Mifune's physical and mental state declined rapidly.[citation needed]


On December 24, 1997, he died in Mitaka, Tokyo, of multiple organ failure at the age of 77.[32]


Mifune won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor twice, in 1961 and 1965.[citation needed] He was awarded the Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon in 1986[33] and the Order of the Sacred Treasure in 1993.[34] In 1973, he was a member of the jury at the 8th Moscow International Film Festival.[35] In 1977, he was a member of the jury at the 10th Moscow International Film Festival.[36]

On November 14, 2016, Mifune received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work in the motion picture industry.[37][38]

Personal quotations[edit]

Of Akira Kurosawa, Toshiro Mifune said, "I have never as an actor done anything that I am proud of other than with him".[39]

Mifune had a kind of talent I had never encountered before in the Japanese film world. It was, above all, the speed with which he expressed himself that was astounding. The ordinary Japanese actor might need ten feet of film to get across an impression; Mifune needed only three. The speed of his movements was such that he said in a single action what took ordinary actors three separate movements to express. He put forth everything directly and boldly, and his sense of timing was the keenest I had ever seen in a Japanese actor. And yet with all his quickness, he also had surprisingly fine sensibilities.

"Since I came into the industry very inexperienced, I don't have any theory of acting. I just had to play my roles my way."[41]

"Generally speaking, most East–West stories have been a series of cliches. I, for one, have no desire to retell Madame Butterfly."[42]

"An actor is not a puppet with strings pulled by the director. He is a human being with seeds of all emotions, desires, and needs within himself. I attempt to find the very center of this humanity and explore and experiment."[42]


Of Toshiro Mifune, in his 1991 book Cult Movie Stars, Danny Peary wrote,

Vastly talented, charismatic, and imposing (because of his strong voice and physique), the star of most of Akira Kurosawa's classics became the first Japanese actor since Sessue Hayakawa to have international fame. But where Hayakawa became a sex symbol because he was romantic, exotic, and suavely charming (even when playing lecherous villains), Mifune's sex appeal – and appeal to male viewers – was due to his sheer unrefined and uninhibited masculinity. He was attractive even when he was unshaven and unwashed, drunk, wide-eyed, and openly scratching himself all over his sweaty body, as if he were a flea-infested dog. He did indeed have animal magnetism – in fact, he based his wild, growling, scratching, superhyper Samarui recruit in The Seven Samurai on a lion. It shouldn't be forgotten that Mifune was terrific in Kurosawa's contemporary social dramas, as detectives or doctors, wearing suits and ties, but he will always be remembered for his violent and fearless, funny, morally ambivalent samurai heroes for Kurosawa, as well as in Hiroshi Inagaki's classic epic, The Samurai Trilogy.[43]

Peary also wrote,

Amazingly physical, [Mifune] was a supreme action hero whose bloody, ritualistic, and, ironically, sometimes comical sword-fight sequences in Yojimbo and Sanjuro are classics, as well-choreographed as the greatest movie dances. His nameless sword-for-hire anticipated Clint Eastwood’s ‘Man With No Name’ gunfighter. With his intelligence, eyes seemingly in back of his head, and experience evident in every thrust or slice, he has no trouble – and no pity – dispatching twenty opponents at a time (Bruce Lee must have been watching!). It is a testament to his skills as an actor that watching the incredible swordplay does not thrill us any more than watching his face during the battle or just the way he moves, without a trace of panic, across the screen – for no one walks or races with more authority, arrogance, or grace than Mifune's barefoot warriors. For a 20-year period, there was no greater actor – dynamic or action – than Toshiro Mifune. Just look at his credits.[43]

In an article published in 2020 by The Criterion Collection in commemoration of Mifune's centenary of birth, Moeko Fujii wrote,

For most of the past century, when people thought of a Japanese man, they saw Toshiro Mifune. A samurai, in the world's eyes, has Mifune's fast wrists, his scruff, his sidelong squint... He may have played warriors, but they weren't typical heroes: they threw tantrums and fits, accidentally slipped off mangy horses, yawned, scratched, chortled, and lazed. But when he extended his right arm, quick and low with a blade, he somehow summoned the tone of epics.

There's a tendency to make Mifune sound mythical. The leading man of Kurosawa-gumi, the Emperor's coterie, he would cement his superstar status in over 150 films in his lifetime, acting for other famed directors — Hiroshi Inagaki, Kajiro Yamamoto, Kihachi Okamoto — in roles ranging from a caped lover to a Mexican bandit.

Mifune's life on-screen centers solely around men. Women, when they do appear, feel arbitrary, mythical, temporary: it's clear that no one is really invested in the thrums of heterosexual desire... Toshiro Mifune cemented his reputation as an icon of masculinity right alongside Hollywood narratives of neutered Asian manhood. In 1961, Mifune provoked worldwide longing by swaggering around in Yojimbo, the same year that Mickey Rooney played the bucktoothed Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Looks-wise, he's the opposite of his predecessor, the silent film star Sessue Hayakawa — often christened the “first Hollywood sex symbol” — with his long, slim fingers and Yves Saint Laurent polish. But Mifune represents a development beyond Hayakawa's Japanese-man-on-screen, who, despite his huge white female fanbase, was always limited to roles of the “Oriental” villain, the menace, the impossible romantic lead: in 1957, Joe Franklin would tell Hayakawa in his talk show, “There were two things we were sure of in the silent movie era; the Indians never got the best of it, and Sessue Hayakawa never got the girl.”

Mifune never wants the girl in the first place. So the men around him can't help but watch him a little open-mouthed, as he walks his slice of world, amused by and nonchalant about the stupor he leaves in his wake. “Who is he?,” someone asks, and no one ever has a good answer. You can't help but want to walk alongside him, to figure it out.[44]


Mifune appeared in roughly 170 feature films.[45] In 2015, Steven Okazaki released Mifune: The Last Samurai, a documentary chronicling Mifune's life and career.[46][47] Due to variations in translation from the Japanese and other factors, there are multiple titles to many of Mifune's films (see IMDb link). The titles shown here are the most common ones used in the United States, with the original Japanese title listed below it in parentheses. Mifune's filmography mainly consists of Japanese productions, unless noted otherwise (see Notes column).


Year Title Role Director Notes
1947 Snow Trail
Senkichi Taniguchi
(谷口 千吉)
These Foolish Times
(新馬鹿時代 前篇)
Genzaburō Ōno
Kajirō Yamamoto
(山本 嘉次郎)
These Foolish Times Part 2
(新馬鹿時代 後篇)
Genzaburō Ōno
Kajirō Yamamoto
(山本 嘉次郎)
1948 Drunken Angel
Akira Kurosawa
1949 The Quiet Duel
Kyōji Fujisaki
Akira Kurosawa
Jakoman and Tetsu
Senkichi Taniguchi
(谷口 千吉)
Stray Dog
Detective Murakami
Akira Kurosawa
1950 Conduct Report on Professor Ishinaka
Teisaku Nagasawa
Mikio Naruse
(成瀬 巳喜男)
Ichirō Aoe
Akira Kurosawa
Engagement Ring
Takeshi Ema
Keisuke Kinoshita
(木下 惠介)
Akira Kurosawa
Escape from Prison
Kajirō Yamamoto
(山本 嘉次郎)
1951 Beyond Love and Hate
Gorō Sakata
Senkichi Taniguchi
(谷口 千吉)
Prosecutor Daisuke Toki
Kajirō Yamamoto
(山本 嘉次郎)
The Idiot
Denkichi Akama
Akira Kurosawa
Hiroshi Inagaki
(稲垣 浩)
Meeting of the Ghost Après-Guerre
Kenji Kawakami
Kiyoshi Saeki
Special appearance
Conclusion of Kojiro Sasaki:
Duel at Ganryu Island

(完結 佐々木小次郎 巌流島決闘)
Musashi Miyamoto
Hiroshi Inagaki
(稲垣 浩)
The Life of a Horsetrader
Yonetarō Katayama
Keigo Kimura
Who Knows a Woman's Heart
Kajirō Yamamoto
(山本 嘉次郎)
1952 Vendetta for a Samurai
(荒木又右衛門 決闘鍵屋の辻)
Mataemon Araki
Kazuo Mori
(森 一生)
Senkichi Taniguchi
(谷口 千吉)
The Life of Oharu
Kenji Mizoguchi
(溝口 健二)
Golden Girl
Yasuki Chiba
Supporting role
Sword for Hire
Hayatenosuke Sasa
Hiroshi Inagaki
(稲垣 浩)
Tokyo Sweetheart
Yasuki Chiba
Swift Current
Shunsuke Kosugi
Senkichi Taniguchi
(谷口 千吉)
The Man Who Came to Port
Gorō Niinuma
Ishirō Honda
(本多 猪四郎)
1953 My Wonderful Yellow Car
Senkichi Taniguchi
(谷口 千吉)
The Last Embrace
(伸吉 / 早川)
Masahiro Makino
(マキノ 雅弘)
Sunflower Girl
Ippei Hitachi
Yasuki Chiba
Originally released overseas as Love in a Teacup[48]
Eagle of the Pacific
1st Lieutenant Jōichi Tomonaga
Ishirō Honda
(本多 猪四郎)
1954 Seven Samurai
Akira Kurosawa
The Sound of Waves
Skipper of the Utashima-maru
Senkichi Taniguchi
(谷口 千吉)
Samurai I : Musashi Miyamoto
Musashi Miyamoto (Takezō Shinmen)
(宮本武蔵 (新免武蔵))
Hiroshi Inagaki
(稲垣 浩)
The Black Fury
Eiichi Tsuda
Toshio Sugie
1955 The Merciless Boss: A Man Among Men
(顔役無用 男性No.1)
"Buick" Maki
Kajirō Yamamoto
(山本 嘉次郎)
All Is Well
Daikichi Risshun
Toshio Sugie
All Is Well Part 2
Daikichi Risshun
Toshio Sugie
No Time for Tears
Mitsuo Yano
Seiji Maruyama
Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple
(続宮本武蔵 一乗寺の決斗)
Musashi Miyamoto
Hiroshi Inagaki
(稲垣 浩)
I Live in Fear
Kiichi Nakajima
Akira Kurosawa
1956 Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island
(宮本武蔵 完結篇 決闘巌流島)
Musashi Miyamoto
Hiroshi Inagaki
(稲垣 浩)
Rainy Night Duel
Masahiko Koseki
Senkichi Taniguchi
(谷口 千吉)
The Underworld
Chief Inspector Kumada
Kajirō Yamamoto
(山本 嘉次郎)
Settlement of Love
Shuntarō Ōhira
Shin Saburi
(佐分利 信)
A Wife's Heart
Kenkichi Takemura
Mikio Naruse
(成瀬 巳喜男)
Nobuo Aoyagi (青柳信雄)
Rebels on the High Seas
Tokuzō Matsuo
Hiroshi Inagaki
(稲垣 浩)
1957 Throne of Blood
Taketoki Washizu
Akira Kurosawa
A Man in the Storm
Saburō Watari
Senkichi Taniguchi
(谷口 千吉)
Be Happy, These Two Lovers
Toshio Maruyama
Ishirō Honda
(本多 猪四郎)
Yagyu Secret Scrolls Part 1
Tasaburō Kasumi
Hiroshi Inagaki
(稲垣 浩)
A Dangerous Hero
Athlete Kawada
Hideo Suzuki
The Lower Depths
Sutekichi (the thief)
(捨吉 (泥棒))
Akira Kurosawa
Yoshio Tsuruishi
Yasuki Chiba
1958 Yagyu Secret Scrolls Part 2
(柳生武芸帳 双龍秘剣)
Tasaburō Ōtsuki
Hiroshi Inagaki
(稲垣 浩)
Holiday in Tokyo
Tenkai's nephew Jirō
Kajirō Yamamoto
(山本 嘉次郎)
Muhomatsu, The Rikshaw Man
Matsugorō Tomishima
Hiroshi Inagaki
(稲垣 浩)
Yaji and Kita on the Road
Toshinoshin Taya
Yasuki Chiba
All About Marriage
Acting teacher
Kihachi Okamoto
(岡本 喜八)
Theater of Life
(人生劇場 青春篇)
Toshio Sugie
The Hidden Fortress
General Rokurota Makabe
Akira Kurosawa
1959 Boss of the Underworld
Daisuke Kashimura
Kihachi Okamoto
(岡本 喜八)
Samurai Saga
Heihachirō Komaki
Hiroshi Inagaki
(稲垣 浩)
The Saga of the Vagabonds
Rokurō Kai
Toshio Sugie
Desperado Outpost
Battalion Commander Kodama
Kihachi Okamoto
(岡本 喜八)
The Three Treasures
Prince Takeru Yamato/Prince Susano'o
Hiroshi Inagaki
(稲垣 浩)
1960 The Last Gunfight
Detective Saburō Fujioka
Kihachi Okamoto
(岡本 喜八)
The Gambling Samurai
Chūji Kunisada
Senkichi Taniguchi
(谷口 千吉)
Storm Over the Pacific
(ハワイ·ミッドウェイ大海空戦 太平洋の嵐)
Tamon Yamaguchi
Shūe Matsubayashi
(松林 宗恵)
Man Against Man
Senkichi Taniguchi
(谷口 千吉)
The Bad Sleep Well
Kōichi Nishi
Akira Kurosawa
Salaryman Chushingura Part 1
Kazuo Momoi
Toshio Sugie
1961 The Story of Osaka Castle
Hiroshi Inagaki
(稲垣 浩)
Salaryman Chushingura Part 2
Kazuo Momoi
Toshio Sugie
Sanjūrō Kuwabata
Akira Kurosawa
The Youth and his Amulet
Fudō Myō-ō
Hiroshi Inagaki
(稲垣 浩)
Ánimas Trujano Ánimas Trujano Ismael Rodríguez Mexican production
1962 Sanjuro
Sanjūrō Tsubaki
Akira Kurosawa
Hiroshi Inagaki
(稲垣 浩)
Three Gentlemen Return from Hong Kong
Cho Chishō (Zhang Zhizhang)
(張知章 (カメオ出演))
Toshio Sugie
Chushingura: Story of Flower, Story of Snow
(忠臣蔵 花の巻·雪の巻)
Genba Tawaraboshi
Hiroshi Inagaki
(稲垣 浩)
1963 Attack Squadron!
Lt. Colonel Senda
Shūe Matsubayashi
(松林 宗恵)
High and Low
Kingo Gondō
Akira Kurosawa
Legacy of the 500,000
Takeichi Matsuo
(松尾武市 兼 製作 兼 監督)
Toshiro Mifune
(三船 敏郎)
Also director and producer
The Lost World of Sinbad
Sukezaemon Naya (Sukezaemon Luzon)
(菜屋助左衛門 (呂宋助左衛門))
Senkichi Taniguchi
(谷口 千吉)
1964 Whirlwind
(士魂魔道 大龍巻)
Morishige Akashi
Hiroshi Inagaki
(稲垣 浩)
1965 Samurai Assassin
Tsuruchiyo Niiro
Kihachi Okamoto
(岡本 喜八)
Red Beard
Dr. Kyojō Niide (Red Beard)
(新出去定医師 (赤ひげ))
Akira Kurosawa
Sanshiro Sugata
Shōgorō Yano
Seiichirô Uchikawa
The Retreat from Kiska
(太平洋奇跡の作戦 キスカ)
Major General Omura
Seiji Maruyama
Fort Graveyard
Sergeant Kosugi
Kihachi Okamoto
(岡本 喜八)
also producer
1966 Rise Against the Sword
Shinobu no Gōemon
Hiroshi Inagaki
(稲垣 浩)
The Sword of Doom
Toranosuke Shimada[50]
Kihachi Okamoto
(岡本 喜八)
The Adventure of Kigan Castle
Senkichi Taniguchi
(谷口 千吉)
also producer
The Mad Atlantic
Heihachirō Murakami
Jun Fukuda
(福田 純)
also executive producer
Grand Prix Izō Yamura
John Frankenheimer U.S. production
1967 Samurai Rebellion
(上意討ち 拝領妻始末)
Isaburō Sasahara
Masaki Kobayashi
(岡本 喜八)
also producer
Japan's Longest Day
Korechika Anami
Kihachi Okamoto
(岡本 喜八)
1968 The Sands of Kurobe
Satoshi Kitagawa
Kei Kumai
(熊井 啓)
Admiral Yamamoto
(連合艦隊司令長官 山本五十六)
Isoroku Yamamoto
Seiji Maruyama
The Day the Sun Rose
Daisuke Itō
(伊藤 大輔) and Tetsuya Yamanouchi (山内鉄也)
Hell in the Pacific Captain Tsuruhiko Kuroda
John Boorman U.S. production
1969 Samurai Banners
Kansuke Yamamoto
Hiroshi Inagaki
(稲垣 浩)
also producer
Safari 5000
Yūichirō Takase
Koreyoshi Kurahara
The Battle of the Japan Sea
Heihachirō Tōgō
Seiji Maruyama
Red Lion
Akage no Gonzō
(赤毛の権三 兼 製作)
Kihachi Okamoto
(岡本 喜八)
also Producer
Isami Kondō
(近藤勇 兼 製作)
Tadashi Sawashima
(沢島 忠)
also Producer
1970 Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo
Daisaku Sasa
Kihachi Okamoto
(岡本 喜八)
Shōjirō Gotō
Daisuke Itō (伊藤 大輔)
Incident at Blood Pass
Tōzaburō Shinogi
(鎬刀三郎 兼 製作)
Hiroshi Inagaki
(稲垣 浩)
also Producer
The Walking Major
Tadao Kinugasa
Keith Larsen
The Militarists
(激動の昭和史 軍閥)
Isoroku Yamamoto
Hiromichi Horikawa (堀川 弘通)
1971 Red Sun Jūbei Kuroda
Terence Young French. Italian, and Spanish co-production
Morning for Two
none Takeshi Matsumori producer only
1975 Paper Tiger Ambassador Kagoyama
Ken Annakin U.K. production
The New Spartans WW2 vet Jack Starrett U.K., West German co-production; Incomplete
1976 Midway Isoroku Yamamoto
Jack Smight U.S. production
1977 Proof of the Man
Yōhei Kōri
Junya Satō
(佐藤 純彌)
Special appearance
Japanese Godfather: Ambition
(日本の首領 野望篇)
Kōsuke Ōishi
Sadao Nakajima
1978 Shogun's Samurai
Yoshinao Tokugawa
Kinji Fukasaku
(深作 欣二)
Captain Takeo Murata
Sadao Nakajima
also executive producer
Hideyoshi Toyotomi
Kei Kumai
(熊井 啓)
The Fall of Ako Castle
Chikara Tsuchiya
Kinji Fukasaku
(深作 欣二)
Japanese Godfather: Conclusion
(日本の首領 完結篇)
Kōsuke Ōishi
Sadao Nakajima
Lord Incognito
Sakuzaemon Okumura
Tetsuya Yamanouchi (山内鉄也)
1979 Winter Kills Keith (secretary)
(キース (秘書))
William Richert U.S. production
The Adventures of Kosuke Kindaichi
Kōsuke Kindaichi XI
Nobuhiko Obayashi
(大林 宣彦)
Onmitsu Doshin: The Edo Secret Police
Sadanobu Matsudaira
Akinori Matsuo
also producer
1941 Commander Akiro Mitamura
Steven Spielberg U.S. production
1980 The Battle of Port Arthur
Emperor Meiji
Toshio Masuda
(舛田 利雄)
Toranaga Yoshii[broken anchor]
Jerry London U.S., Japanese co-production; Film condensation of the miniseries
1981 Inchon! Saitō-san
Terence Young U.S. production
The Bushido Blade Commander Fukusai Hayashi
Tsugunobu Kotani
U.S., U.K., Japanese co-production
1982 The Challenge Toru Yoshida
John Frankenheimer U.S. production
Masao Tadokoro
Sadao Nakajima
1983 Battle Anthem
(日本海大海戦 海ゆかば)
Heihachirō Tōgō
Toshio Masuda
(舛田 利雄)
Theater of Life
Hyōtarō Aonari
Junya Satō
(佐藤 純彌)
Sadao Nakajima
and Kinji Fukasaku
(深作 欣二)
Special appearance
1984 The Miracle of Joe Petrel
Toshiya Fujita
(藤田 敏八)
1985 Legend of the Holy Woman
Kōzō Kanzaki
Tōru Murakawa
Special appearance
1986 Song of the Genkai Sea
Kyūbei Matsufuji
Masanobu Deme
1987 Shatterer Murai
Tonino Valerii Italian, Japanese co-production
Tora-san Goes North
(男はつらいよ 知床慕情)
Junkichi Ueno
Yoji Yamada
(山田 洋次)
Princess from the Moon
Kon Ichikawa
(市川 崑)
1989 Death of a Tea Master
(千利休 本覺坊遺文)
Sen no Rikyū
Kei Kumai
(熊井 啓)
The Demon Comes in Spring
Kukkune no jî
Akira Kobayashi
(小林 旭)
CF Girl
Shūichirō Hase
Izo Hashimoto
(橋本 以蔵)
1991 Strawberry Road
Koreyoshi Kurahara
Journey of Honor
Ieyasu Tokugawa
Gordon Hessler U.S., U.K., Japanese co-production
1992 Shadow of the Wolf
Kroomak Jacques Dorfmann and Pierre Magny Canadian, French co-production
1994 Picture Bride Kayo Hatta The Benshi
U.S. production
1995 Deep River
Kei Kumai
(熊井 啓)
Final film role

The 1999 Danish film Mifune is named after the actor.


All programs originally aired in Japan except for Shōgun which aired in the U.S. on NBC in September 1980 before being subsequently broadcast in Japan on TV Asahi from March 30 to April 6, 1981.

Date(s) Title Role Notes
1967.05.11 He of the Sun
Himself 1 episode
1968–1969 Five Freelance Samurai
Jirō Yoshikage Funayama
6 episodes
[Ep. 1,2,14,15,17,26]
1971 Daichūshingura
Kuranosuke Ōishi
All 52 episodes
1972–1974 Ronin of the Wilderness
Kujūrō Tōge
All 104 episodes, over two seasons; also producer
1973 Yojimbo of the Wilderness
Kujūrō Tōge
5 episodes
1975 The Sword, the Wind, and the Lullaby
Jūzaburō Toride
All 27 episodes
1976 The Secret Inspectors
Naizen-no-shō Tsukumo/Izu-no-kami Nobuakira Matsudaira (dual roles)
(九十九内膳正 / 松平伊豆守信明 (二役)
10 episodes
[Ep. 1,2,3,4,7,10,11,18,22,26]
1976 Ronin in a Lawless Town
(人魚亭異聞 無法街の素浪人)
Mister Danna
All 23 episodes
1977.07.16 Ōedo Sōsamō
Yūgen Ōtaki
1 episode
1978 Falcons of Edo
(江戸の鷹 御用部屋犯科帖)
Kanbei Uchiyama
All 38 episodes
1979.04.02 Edo o Kiru IV
Shūsaku Chiba
1 episode special appearance
[Ep. 8]
1979 Prosecutor Saburo Kirishima
Chief Prosecutor Mori
1979 Akō Rōshi
Sakon Tachibana
1 episode
1979–1980 Fangs of Edo
Gunbei Asahina
3 episodes
[Ep. 1, 17, 26]
1979 Hideout in Room 7
Gōsuke Saegusa
1980 Shōgun Toranaga Yoshii[broken anchor] All 5 parts
1980.12.27 It's 8 O'Clock! Everybody Gather 'Round
Himself 1 episode[a]
1981 Sekigahara
Sakon Shima
All 3 parts
1981–1982 Ten Duels of Young Shingo
Tamon Umei
Two of three parts[b]
[Parts 1,2]
1981.07.09 My Daughter! Fly on the Wings of Love and Tears
(娘よ! 愛と涙の翼で翔べ)
TV film
1981.09.29 Tuesday Suspense Theater: The Spherical Wilderness
(火曜サスペンス劇場 球形の荒野)
Kenichirō Nogami
TV film
1981–1982 Bungo Detective Story
Shūsaku Chiba
5 episodes
[Ep. 5,10,13,18,26]
1981–1983 The Lowly Ronin
Lowly Ronin Shūtō Shunka
(素浪人 春夏秋冬)
TV film series, all 6 parts
1982.09.19 The Happy Yellow Handkerchief
Kenzō Shima
1 episode
[Ep. 4]
1983 The Brave Man Says Little
(勇者は語らず いま、日米自動車戦争は)
Ryūzō Kawana
All 4 episodes
1983.11.03 The Women of Osaka Castle
Tokugawa Ieyasu
TV film
1983.11.10 The Secret of Cruel Valley
(魔境 殺生谷の秘密)
Lowly Rōnin TV film
1984 The Burning Mountain River
Otoshichi Amō
1984.04.02 Okita Soji: Swordsman of Fire
(燃えて、散る 炎の剣士 沖田総司)
Shūsai Kondō
TV film
1984.08.26 Toshiba Sunday Theater #1442: Summer Encounter
(東芝日曜劇場 第1442回 夏の出逢い)
Takeya Ōnuki
TV film
1987.09.10 Masterpiece Jidaigeki:
National Advisor Breakthrough! Hikozaemon Geki

(傑作時代劇 天下の御意見番罷り通る!彦左衛門外記)
Hikozaemon Ōkubo
1 episode
[Ep. 21]
1990.04.20 Heaven and Earth: Dawn Episode
Nagao Tamekage
TV film

Awards and nominations[edit]

Mifune has won and been nominated for many awards during his acting career, including six Blue Ribbon Awards, three Mainichi Film Awards, three Japan Academy Film Prize nominations (winning two), and two Kinema Junpo Awards.


  1. ^ Mifune's appearance on It's 8 O'Clock! Everybody Gather 'Round was to promote the upcoming New Year's broadcast of Sekigahara. Mifune appeared on stage in a comedic samurai sketch wearing his Sakon Shima armor from the mini-series. In addition, Mifune sang with the "Little Singers of Tokyo" in another segment
  2. ^ Ten Duels of Young Shingo Part 3, which did not feature Mifune but which concludes the story, aired on July 30, 1982


  1. ^ "Toshiro Mifune: The Honorary Samurai – Black Belt Magazine". Black Belt. Retrieved April 24, 2023.[dead link]
  2. ^ "The ultimate beginner's guide to Toshiro Mifune's best films". Far Out. April 1, 2021. Retrieved April 24, 2023.
  3. ^ Hunter, stephen (December 27, 1997). "Toshiro Mifune: a World-Class Talent Appreciation: Japanese star, who had a great actor's gift, made an indelible mark on international cinema". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on January 6, 2016.
  4. ^ "The ultimate beginner's guide to Toshiro Mifune's best films". Far Out. April 1, 2021. Retrieved April 24, 2023.
  5. ^ Travis, Ben; Butcher, Sophie; De Semlyen, Nick; Dyer, James; Nugent, John; Godfrey, Alex; O'Hara, Helen (December 20, 2022). "Empire's 50 Greatest Actors Of All Time List, Revealed". Empire. Archived from the original on December 29, 2022. Retrieved January 31, 2023.
  6. ^ a b Matsuda, Michiko; 松田美智子 (2014). Samurai : hyōden Mifune Toshirō. 文藝春秋. p. 16. ISBN 978-4-16-390005-6. OCLC 868005686.
  7. ^ Kobayashi, Atsushi; 小林淳 (2019). Mifune Toshirō no eigashi = Toshiro Mifune, 1920-1997 (Shohan ed.). アルファベータブックス. pp. 24–25. ISBN 978-4-86598-063-9. OCLC 1097178065.
  8. ^ "95 years ago today: Actor Toshiro Mifune born". Akira Kurosawa info. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  9. ^ "Toshiro Mifune presented in Arts section". News finder. Archived from the original on October 7, 2007. Retrieved April 29, 2022.
  10. ^ Wise, James E. Jr.; Baron, Scott. International Stars at War. p. 132.
  11. ^ Sharp, Jasper (2011). Historical Dictionary of Japanese Cinema. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press. pp. 162–65. ISBN 978-0-81085795-7. Retrieved July 19, 2015.
  12. ^ Galbraith IV, Stuart (2001). The Emperor and the Wolf: The Lives and Films of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune. USA: Faber and Faber. pp. 67–68. ISBN 0-571-19982-8.
  13. ^ Tatara, Paul. "Rashomon". Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the original on December 25, 2008. Retrieved April 29, 2022.
  14. ^ Galbraith IV, Stuart (2001). The Emperor and the Wolf: The Lives and Films of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune. USA: Faber and Faber. pp. 69–70. ISBN 0-571-19982-8.
  15. ^ Kurosawa, Akira. Something like an autobiography. Translated by Audie Bock. p. 161.
  16. ^ "The Second Father – Hiroshi Inagaki's Rickshaw Man".
  17. ^ "The Japanese actor who starred in a Mexican film". El Universal (in Spanish). May 8, 2018. Retrieved April 19, 2021.
  18. ^ Galbraith IV, Stuart (2001). The Emperor and the Wolf: The Lives and Films of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune. USA: Faber and Faber. p. 362. ISBN 0-571-19982-8.
  19. ^ "Akira Kurosawa Film director shocked by 'Shogun' – - Lawrence Journal-World Nov. 2, 1980 page 20". Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  20. ^ Galbraith IV, Stuart (2001). The Emperor and the Wolf: The Lives and Films of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune. USA: Faber and Faber. p. 556. ISBN 0-571-19982-8.
  21. ^ Field, Matthew (2015). Some kind of hero : 007 : the remarkable story of the James Bond films. Ajay Chowdhury. Stroud, Gloucestershire. ISBN 978-0-7509-6421-0. OCLC 930556527.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  22. ^ "Toshiro Mifune turned down Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader roles". The Guardian. 2015.
  23. ^ Boorman, John (2004). Adventures of a Suburban Boy. Farrar, Strous and Giroux. p. 216.
  24. ^ Galbraith IV, Stuart (2001). The Emperor and the Wolf: The Lives and Films of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune. USA: Faber and Faber. pp. 291–292, 539–540. ISBN 0-571-19982-8.
  25. ^ Nogami, Teruyo (2006). Waiting on the Weather: Making Movies with Akira Kurosawa. Berkeley, CA: Stone Bridge Press Inc. p. 246. ISBN 978-1-933330-09-9.
  26. ^ Harris, Will (2015). "Scott Glenn on serial killers, Alan Shepard, and almost ending up on Sons Of Anarchy". The A.V. Club.
  27. ^ Galbraith IV 2002, p. 637.
  28. ^ Ryfle & Godziszewski 2017, p. 293.
  29. ^ "Toshiro Mifune and Sachiko Yoshimine' wedding…". Oddstuff. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
  30. ^ "A great photo spread of Toshiro Mifune's wedding to Sachiko Yoshimine in 1950. Eiga Fan, March 1950". Flickr. June 13, 2011. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
  31. ^ "In 1974, while still legally married, Mifune enraged conservative purists by taking Mika Kitagawa, who later became his second wife, to a state dinner". UPI Archives. Retrieved January 2, 2022.
  32. ^ Lyman, Rick (December 25, 1997). "Toshiro Mifune, Actor, Dies at 77; The Primal Hero of Samurai Films". The New York Times. p. B6. Retrieved March 5, 2024.
  33. ^ "Toshiro Mifune – Biography". www.mifuneproductions.co.jp. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
  34. ^ L'Harmattan web site (in French), Order with gold ribbon
  35. ^ "8th Moscow International Film Festival (1973)". MIFF. Archived from the original on January 16, 2013. Retrieved December 25, 2012.
  36. ^ "10th Moscow International Film Festival (1977)". MIFF. Archived from the original on January 16, 2013. Retrieved January 7, 2013.
  37. ^ "Toshiro Mifune | Hollywood Walk of Fame". www.walkoffame.com. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
  38. ^ "Hollywood Walk of Fame honors late samurai star Toshiro Mifune | The Japan Times". The Japan Times. Archived from the original on November 27, 2016. Retrieved April 29, 2022.
  39. ^ Richie, Donald (1970). "Preface". The Films of Akira Kurosawa (2nd ed.). University of California Press. Retrieved January 9, 2020. the films of Akira Kurosawa… I am proud of other than with him.
  40. ^ Kurosawa, Akira (1983). Something Like an Autobiography. Audie E. Bock. Vintage Books. p. 161. ISBN 978-0-394-71439-4.
  41. ^ Galbraith IV, Stuart (2001). The Emperor and the Wolf: The Lives and Films of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune. USA: Faber and Faber. p. 70. ISBN 0-571-19982-8.
  42. ^ a b Gambol, Juliette (Winter 1967). ""Toshiro Mifune: An Interview"". Cinema Magazine: 27.
  43. ^ a b Peary, Danny (1991). Cult Movie Stars. Simon & Schuster. p. 372. ISBN 978-0671749248.
  44. ^ "Who's That Man? Mifune at 100". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved April 26, 2024.
  45. ^ "Mifune to Receive Star on Walk of Fame in 2016". Rafu Shimpo. June 25, 2015. Retrieved April 24, 2023.
  46. ^ "Trailer for Seven Samurai's Toshiro Mifune documentary released - Nerd Reactor". October 19, 2016. Archived from the original on September 28, 2022. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
  47. ^ "'Seven Samurai' is So Much More Than the Original 'Magnificent Seven'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
  48. ^ Galbraith, Stuart IV (May 16, 2008). The Toho Studios Story: A History and Complete Filmography. Scarecrow Press. p. 92. ISBN 978-0810860049.
  49. ^ Stuart Galbraith IV (May 16, 2008). The Toho Studios Story: A History and Complete Filmography. Scarecrow Press. p. 177. ISBN 978-1-4616-7374-3.
  50. ^ Stuart Galbraith IV (May 16, 2008). The Toho Studios Story: A History and Complete Filmography. Scarecrow Press. p. 227. ISBN 978-1-4616-7374-3.


External links[edit]