Difference between revisions of "Tomisaburo Wakayama"

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Tomisaburo Wakayama (September 1, 1929 – April 2, 1992), born Masaru Okumura,[1] was a Japanese actor, best known for playing Ogami Ittō, the scowling, 17th century ronin warrior in the six Lone Wolf and Cub samurai movies.

Wakayama was born on September 1, 1929, in Fukagawa, a district in Tokyo, Japan.[1][3] His father was Tohiji Katsu[2] (or Katsutoji Kineya),[4] a noted kabuki performer and nagauta singer,[1] and the family as a whole were kabuki performers. He and his younger brother, Shintaro Katsu, followed their father in the theater.[1] Wakayama tired of this; at the age of 13, he began to study judo, eventually achieving the rank of 4th dan black belt in the art.[1]

In 1952, as part of the Azuma Kabuki troupe, Wakayama toured the United States of America for nine months.[2] He gave up theater performance completely after his two-year term with the troupe was over.[1] Wakayama taught judo until Toho recruited him as a new martial arts star in their jidaigeki movies.[1] He prepared for these movies by practicing other disciplines, including kenpō, iaidō, kendo, and bōjutsu.[1] All this helped him for roles in the television series The Mute Samurai,[4] the 1975 television series Shokin Kasegi,[4] and his most famous role: Ogami Itto, the Lone Wolf.

Wakayama went on to star in many films, performing in a variety of roles. It has been estimated that he appeared in between 250 to 500 films.[4] His only roles in American movies were as a baseball coach in The Bad News Bears Go to Japan (1978) and as a yakuza boss in Ridley Scott's Black Rain (1989).[4][5]

Wakayama died of acute heart failure on April 2, 1992, in a hospital in Kyoto.[1][4]


  • 1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Leous, G. (c. 2003): Tomisaburo Wakayama
  • 2. ^ a b c d Stout, J. (1981): "Tomisaburo Wakayama: The Anti-Hero of Shogun Assassin." Martial Arts Movies (August), 1(2):26–33.
  • 3. ^ Boryokugai: Tomisaburo Wakayama (2010).
  • 4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Asiateca: Tomisaburo Wakayama (August 10, 2007).
  • 5. ^ a b Nash, J. R., & Ross, S. R. (1990): The motion picture guide: 1990 annual – The films of 1989. Evanston, IL: Cinebooks.

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