by Chris MaGee
It is hard to imagine someone contributing to the world of Japanese film and theatre for an entire century but that is exactly what Teruko Nagaoka. It is very sad news that pioneering female theatrical producer and actress best known to Western audiences for her roles in the films of Yasujiro Ozu passed away from natural causes in Tokyo yesterday. She was 102.
Nagaoka was born Teruko Shinohara in 1908 in Morioka, Iwate Prefecture. At the age of 20 she would drop out of Tokyo's Bunka Gakuin College and travel to Paris where she would study drama. In 1930 she returned to Japan and founded a small theatrical company that would mount Japanese productions of modern French plays. This theatrical experience would lead Nagaoka to the famed Bungakuza shingeki theatre company, which she would join in 1937. Nagaok's talents weren't limited to the stage though. She would appear in Mikio Naruse's "Repast" (1951) and "The Thunder of the Mountain" (1954), and Yasujiro Ozu's "Tokyo Story" (1953) and "Good Morning" (1959). More recently Japanese audiences would recognize knew Nagaoka's voice from Eiichi Yamamoto's animated drama "Oshin".
Our deepest condolences to Nagaoka-san's family and friends, and our thanks go to Mainichi News for the details of her her life.