Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Yoko Minamida, 1933-2009

by Chris MaGee

It's a sad day in the world of Japanese cinema with the passing of one of its most beloved stars. Yoko Minamida, best known for her roles in the 1956 screen adaptation of Shintaro Ishihara's novel "Taiyo no kisetsu (Season of the Sun)" and Nobuhiko Obayashi's "House" died Wednesday of a brain hemorrhage after a long battle with Alzheimer's Disease. She was 76.

Born Yoko Kato in 1933 the Tokyo native began her acting career at Daei Studios in 1951 at the age of 18. Although she initially gaining critical acclaim with her role in Koji Shima's 1953 film "Jyudai no seiten" it wasn't until her role in Takumi Furukawa's "Taiyo no kisetsu" as Eiko, a young upper class girl who falls for a lower class boxer, played by the then 20-year-old Hiroyuki Nagato, that she became a full fledged star. Minamida went on to act in numerous Nikkatsu films throughout the 50's and 60's for such directors as Shohei Imamura ("Stolen Desire" and "Pigs and Battleships"), Seijun Suzuki (Tokyo Knights" and "The Man with a Shotgun"), and Sadao Nakajima ("Otoko no shobu") often appearing opposite Nagato. In 1976 the longtime co-stars married.

Minamida retired from acting after her role in Nobuhiko Obayashi's 2006 film "Song of Goodbye" and it was only publicly revealed by Nagato in April that his wife had been struggling with Alzheimer's. Since then Minamida had been in and out of hospital and on October 17th she was admitted with bleeding on the brain and sadly did not recover.

Our deepest condolences go out to Nagato-san and Minamida's family, friends and colleagues for their loss. Thanks to the for the details on this.

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