by Chris MaGee
Here's some very sad news. Actor Hiroyuki Nagato and actress Yoko Minamida rose to national acclaim starring opposite each other in Takumi Furukawa's 1956 film "Taiyo no kisetsu (Season of the Sun)" (above right), based on Shintarô Ishihara's Akutagawa Prize-winning novel that along with Ko Nakahira "Crazed Fruit" helped to kick start the "sun tribe" phenomena and a slew of Nikkatsu youth-oriented films. After working in a number of films at Nikkatsu the two were married in 1976 and went on to become one of Japan's most beloved couples.
Now Japan Zone is reporting that Minamida has been hospitalized and is suffering from advanced Alzheimers Disease. The 76-year-old actress retired several years ago after showing early signs of the disease and since then Nagato has cared for her at home. The couple's struggle came to light after TV Asahi shot a documentary (above left) on them that aired last November in Japan. A tearful Nagato spoke with reporters and spoke of his fear that his wife may not recover from this latest set back and end up in a vegetative state.
Our deepest sympathies got out to Nagato-san during this terribly difficult time.