Leading Ladies of Japanese Cinema: An Introduction

I find that when I talk about Japanese actors and actresses with my family and friends, they don’t recognize the actors’ names. I thought I would remedy that by creating a list here of ten of the most prominent actors from classic Japanese cinema, including five titles of each of those actors’ most notable films. One of the actresses in this post, Haruko Sugimura, was more often a supporting player than a leading lady, but all of these ten women played a large part in making some of the most enduring Japanese classics of the 1930s through the 1960s. There are, of course, many more names to mention than the ones I am listing here, but this is just an introduction so that perhaps you might become familiar with some of Japan’s most famous and respected actresses. (The adjoining post on male actors will be written up soon.)

Haruko Sugimura (1909-1997) – Late Spring (1949, dir. Yasujirô Ozu); Tokyo Story (1953, dir. Yasujirô Ozu); Late Chrysanthemums (1954, dir. Mikio Naruse); Good Morning (1959, dir. Yasujirô Ozu); Floating Weeds (1959, dir. Yasujirô Ozu)

Kinuyo Tanaka (1909 or 1910-1977) – Dragnet Girl (1933, dir. Yasujirô Ozu); A Hen in the Wind (1948, dir. Yasujirô Ozu); The Life of Oharu (1952, dir. Kenji Mizoguchi); Ugetsu (1953, dir. Kenji Mizoguchi); Sansho the Bailiff (1954, dir. Kenji Mizoguchi)

Isuzu Yamada (1917-2012) – Osaka Elegy (1936, dir. Kenji Mizoguchi); Sisters of the Gion (1936, dir. Kenji Mizoguchi); Throne of Blood (1957, dir. Akira Kurosawa); Tokyo Twilight (1957, dir. Yasujirô Ozu); Yojimbo (1961, dir. Akira Kurosawa)

Setsuko Hara (b. 1920) – No Regrets for Our Youth (1946, dir. Akira Kurosawa); Late Spring (1949, dir. Yasujirô Ozu); Early Summer (1951, dir. Yasujirô Ozu); Tokyo Story (1953, dir. Yasujirô Ozu); Sound of the Mountain (1954, dir. Mikio Naruse)

Machiko Kyô (b. 1924) – Rashomon (1950, dir. Akira Kurosawa); Ugetsu (1953, dir. Kenji Mizoguchi); Gate of Hell (1953, dir. Teinosuke Kinugasa); Street of Shame (1956, dir. Kenji Mizoguchi); Floating Weeds (1959, dir. Yasujirô Ozu)

Hideko Takamine (1924-2010) – Twenty-Four Eyes (1954, dir. Keisuke Kinoshita); Floating Clouds (1955, dir. Mikio Naruse); When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (1960, dir. Mikio Naruse); Immortal Love (1961, dir. Keisuke Kinoshita); The Human Condition III: A Soldier’s Prayer (1961, dir. Masaki Kobayashi)

Kyôko Kishida (1930-2006)The Human Condition III: A Soldier’s Prayer (1961, dir. Masaki Kobayashi); An Autumn Afternoon (1962, dir. Yasujirô Ozu); Woman in the Dunes (1964, dir. Hiroshi Teshigahara); Manji (1964, dir. Yasuzô Masumura); The Face of Another (1966, dir. Hiroshi Teshigahara)

Yoshiko Kuga (b. 1931) – The Idiot (1951, dir. Akira Kurosawa); The Woman in the Rumor (1954, dir. Kenji Mizoguchi); Taira Clan Saga (1955, dir. Kenji Mizoguchi); Equinox Flower (1958, dir. Yasujirô Ozu); Good Morning (1959, dir. Yasujirô Ozu)

Kyôko Kagawa (b. 1931)Tokyo Story (1953, dir. Yasujirô Ozu); Sansho the Bailiff (1954, dir. Kenji Mizoguchi); The Crucified Lovers (1954, dir. Kenji Mizoguchi); The Bad Sleep Well (1960, dir. Akira Kurosawa); High and Low (1963, dir. Akira Kurosawa)

Ayako Wakao (b. 1933) – Street of Shame (1956, dir. Kenji Mizoguchi); Floating Weeds (1959, dir. Yasujirô Ozu); A Wife Confesses (1961, dir. Yasuzô Masumura); Manji (1964, dir. Yasuzô Masumura); Red Angel (1966, dir. Yasuzô Masumura)

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2 thoughts on “Leading Ladies of Japanese Cinema: An Introduction

  1. Pingback: Leading Men of Japanese Cinema: An Introduction | The Iron Cupcake

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