Sunday, October 3, 2010

Actress Junko Ikeuchi, 1933-2010

by Chris MaGee

Another sad loss in the world of Japanese film occurred this past week. Actress Junko Ikeuchi, best known for her role on the 1960's Fuji TV series "Nichinichi no Haishin" passed away on SEptember 26th in Tokyo after a battle with lung cancer. She was 76.

Ikeuchi was born in 1933 in Tokyo, real name Sumiko Nakazawa. It was while working at the Mitsukoshi Department Store alongside future Japanese sex symbol Michiko Maeda in 1954 that she was discovered. Both young women were signed to Shintoho Studios. Ikeuchi's screen debut was in Shiro Komori's ''Kotaishi no Hanayome (The Crown Prince's Bride)''. It was for this and other early screen appearances that Ikeuchi earned a Best Newcomer Award from the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan in 1956. Ikeuchi's career went into overdrive though when in 1960 Fuji TV cast in its small screen adapation of Noboru Nakamura's 1958 film "Nichinichi no Haishin". The drama series gained astounding ratings and made Junko Ikeuchi a household name across the country. Ikeuchi would follow up her success on "Nichinichi no Haishin" with over 70 feature film roles and multiple TV and stage appearances. In 2002 she was honoured with a Medal with Purple Ribbon for her contribution to Japanese arts and culture.

Our deepsest condolences go out to Ikeuchi-san's family, friends and colleagues, and our thanks go to Mainichi News for the details of her remarkable life and career.

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