Friday, August 7, 2009

Actress Reiko Ohara, 1946-2009

by Chris MaGee

One of Japan's most popular movie and TV actresses has passed away. Reiko Ohara, who starred in such films as Nobuo Nakagawa's "Snake Woman's Curse", Kon Ichikawa's "Guillotine Island", and Kinji Fukasaku's "The Shogun's Samurai" was found dead in her suburban Tokyo home on Thursday. She was only 62. Tokyo authorities do not suspect foul play as Ohara had been battling Guillain-Barré syndrome, an autoimmune disease that effects the nervous system, for some time.

While North American audiences know Ohara from the above mentioned films Japanese audiences would know her best from her television work in such 90's taiga dramas as "Genji monogatari" and "Tokugawa Yoshinobu". She was also the spokeswoman for Suntory Whiskey and became famous for her pitch line "Sukoshi aishite, nagaku aishite" (Love me a little, Love me long). Director Yoji Yamada, who worked with Ohara on two of the films in his long-running Tora-san series gave a statement to Cinema saying that Ohara's "sparkling eyes and sweet voice were unique and entrancing to the staff [of the films]. It is very sad."

Our deepest condolences to Ohara's family and friends. Those unfamiliar with her might want to check out one of her famous Suntory commercials below. Thanks to Japan Zone for providing the details on this sad news story.

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