The 76th Cannes International Film Festival was held in France on January 27 (January 28, Japan time), and Koji Yakusho (67), who starred in “Perfect Days” (directed by Wim Wenders), won the Best Actor Award. This is the first time in 19 years that a Japanese actor has won this award since Yuya Yagira (33) won in 2004. The story depicts the daily life of the main character, Hirayama, who works as a janitor in a public restroom in Shibuya, Tokyo. In an interview with the Japanese media after receiving the award, he said, “I finally caught up with Yagira,
I think I’ve finally caught up with Yagira-kun (laughs). Yagira has become a really great actor. As I say to everyone, I feel once again that I must live up to the honor of this award.
He said. In an interview with NHK, he said, “I think [Wim Wenders] is probably the best actor in the world,
I thought through the filming of the movie that he is a man who understands Japanese people, culture, and customs so well that he probably was Japanese in his previous life.
He was generous with his praise. In 1980, he made his television debut in the NHK morning drama “Nacchan no Shashin Kan” (Nacchan’s Photo Studio). While many actors have been mainly active on TV, he has been an actor for more than 40 years, sticking to films. In Japan, he won all the Best Actor awards for his role in the 1996 film “Shall We Dance? He has reigned as one of Japan’s top actors in both name and reality, winning the Best Actor Award at the Japan Academy Prize for seven consecutive years since that year. But this is the first time he has won the Best Actor award in one of the world’s three major film awards, which is a bit surprising.
After graduating from a prefectural high school in Nagasaki, he moved to Tokyo to work at the Chiyoda Ward Office in Tokyo. A friend took him to see a play, and he was so struck by it that he knocked on the door of Mumeijuku, a school led by Tatsuya Nakadai. His stage name comes from his career at the ward office.
There, he met Saeko Kawazu, four years his senior, who was also a student at Mumeijuku, and they married in 1982, four years after Yakusho entered the school, due to the rule that love was prohibited during the three-year training period of Mumeijuku.
Yakusho had been an obscure actor who could not make a living until then, but one week after his marriage, he was cast as Nobunaga Oda in the NHK historical drama “Tokugawa Ieyasu,” which was to be his breakout role. At the time, Yakusho said, “It was like I got the role as a wedding present,” but his ability and presence were outstanding, and it was only a matter of time before the public noticed. It was probably Mrs. Saeko who first noticed his talent.
Yakusho became very popular, and he was also sought out for commercials. In 1983, he and his wife appeared in a commercial for curry. Saeko established a private agency to back up Yakusho’s acting career. She became the president of the firm and retired from acting.
Saeko-san decides on all of Yakusho’s films, roles, schedule management, and commercial appearances. He looks like a handsome guy, but his personality is gentle and he obediently listens to everything Mrs. Yakusho says.
In fact, Yakusho’s eldest son is Ichiro Hashimoto (37), an actor who is also active as a play-by-play man, but this too is not well known. Yakusho is known for never opening up about his family on official occasions, but at the award ceremony for the “Fountain Pen Best Coordination Award 2009,” which he received in ’09, he made a rare mention of Saeko. At the ceremony, the recipients were required to read a message on the theme of “Thank you.” Yakusho prefaced his message by saying that he had never made it a point to express his gratitude to his wife in public, and then shyly read the message: “I’m an old-fashioned type, but today I’m a brave man.
I know I’m an old-fashioned kind of guy, but I’ve got the courage today to say… thank you. I wouldn’t be where I am today without you.
The only thing that Yakusho, a man who is both a loving wife and a “wife-beater,” has stuck to is his passion for Japanese cinema.
When he was young, he once had a desire to go to Hollywood and succeed, but as he got older and appeared in more and more films, he became more and more determined to make Japanese cinema more vibrant. I thought it was very typical of the humble Mr. Yakusho to think that his participation in Japanese films would inspire young actors and help nurture them,” said a person involved in film production.
In an interview with the Japanese media after receiving the award at the Cannes Film Festival, he was asked if he would be getting more work overseas. Yakusho was asked, “If I can play a Japanese person, what kind of work will I do?
Yakusho answered, “As long as I can play the role of a Japanese, I would like to participate in any film in any country where my expression is useful.
Yakusho replied, “If I can play the role of a Japanese, I would like to participate in films from any country where my expression would be useful,
Yakusho stated, “Basically, I think the fastest way is for people around the world to enjoy films made in my country.
He also stated, “Basically, I think the fastest way is for people around the world to enjoy our films. Yakusho is said to be focusing on directing in the future. The day when he will be known as “the world’s Yakusho” is just around the corner.
PHOTO.： Yuri Adachi (1st-3rd) Kodansha Photo Archives (4th-6th)