My brother has been dead for almost three years now,” he said. It seems like a long time, but the days passed so quickly. Our family has taken over the management of the company and real estate he left behind, but his homes in Azabu (Minato Ward) and Mitaka remain untouched. My brother’s death was too much for me, and it was all I could do just to come to terms with it, both physically and emotionally.
Tomoyuki, 75, is the older brother of Ken Shimura (real name: Yasunori Shimura, 70), who passed away on March 29, 2008.
It will soon be the third anniversary of Shimura’s death. Since it was in the early stages of the new corona epidemic, no large-scale farewell party was held. Without the opportunity to say goodbye, many people are still mourning the loss of the nationally known comedian.
At the house where Tomoyuki Shimura was born, there is a Buddhist altar with his tablets on it, surrounded by pencil drawings of him given by his fans. Tomoyuki says, “I was very happy to be able to see the paintings.
Even now, many fans of Yassan (Shimura’s nickname) come to visit him at his home, and many offerings have been placed on his grave. We also receive many letters from fans all over Japan. We now have three cardboard boxes full of letters. Some even send us local specialties.”
Needless to say, Mr. Shimura was loved by many people, and FRIDAY has witnessed his encounters with beautiful women on numerous occasions. The two shots above were taken in Azabu Juban (Minato Ward) in April 2006. They stopped by a famous bakery just before it closed, and were happily chatting while choosing bread together. After leaving the store, they went into a girls’ bar nearby that Shimura frequents.
Mr. Shimura frequented a girls’ bar in Azabu Juban three or four times a week at the most. He would go out to dinner with the girls at the bar, and he also became friends with other customers who came to the bar. Shortly after Mr. Shimura’s death, the walls of the store were covered with a large number of notes from the store’s girls and regular customers” (Shimura’s acquaintance).
One person who frequently shared sake with Shimura in his later years was Daigo, 41, of the comedy duo Chidori. At one time, they drank together “eight times a week. In the July 10, 2008 issue of this magazine, we reported that Daigo had inherited Shimura’s favorite car, a Cadillac Escalade. At the time, Daigo admitted to this magazine, “It is true that I bought my master’s car. A source at an entertainment agency familiar with the situation said, “It is true that he bought his master’s car.
The original plan was for the purchase price to be about 5 million yen, but in the end the total came to about 7.5 million yen, including expenses. Moreover, Daigo does not have a driver’s license. Even so, I hear that he paid in a lump sum in cash, saying, ‘If it’s my master’s car, then it’s my master’s car.
Many of Shimura’s friends have yet to come to terms with his death, says actress Maiko Kawakami, 56, who has been his friend for 30 years.
To be honest, I still don’t feel that my master has passed away. The last time I saw him was in November of the year before he passed away, when he came to my general store in Yanaka (Taito Ward). Then the Corona epidemic started, and even though I couldn’t see my master anymore, I knew I would see him again someday. I never thought that would be the last time I would see him. I would think that once the corona subsided, I would be able to see my mentor again.”
Local friends feel the same way. Hidemitsu Tsunoda, a classmate of Shimura’s from elementary and junior high school, tells us.
At the end of the year, he would come back to Higashimurayama and we would drink until morning at my house, which was our custom every year. I can’t express in words the magnitude of the loss of that tradition. Only recently have I finally been able to laugh at Shimura’s tricks on TV. Until then, I could not even watch his videos.”
This past March, in preparation for the third anniversary of his death, Tomoyuki inscribed the name “Ken Shimura” on the epitaph next to the grave where Shimura is laid to rest. Tomoyuki tells us.
Tomoyuki said, “Higashimurayama City gave me the title of honorary citizen, and above all, I really wanted to leave behind not only my real name but also the name ‘Shimura Ken. His mother, who was very fond of Yassan, also rests in the grave with him. If Yassan had married and started a family, he might not have been buried with his mother. I am glad that they were so close and can be together in the afterlife.
On Yassan’s birthday the other day, February 20, a cake shop in Higashimurayama City delivered a cake. Even though we did not order it, they graciously brought us a cake to celebrate my brother’s birthday. I think it is because he has cherished not only his close family members but also his fans so much that he is still loved as Ken Shimura.
Mr. Shimura still lives on in the hearts of many who loved him.
From the April 1-8, 2022 issue of FRIDAY
PHOTO： Keisuke Nishi (1st) Akifumi Yoshida (3rd)