(February 1, 2007)
On his official website, (renewed on Jan.29), Koji Yakusho recollected his first meeting with director Inarritu:
(Pymmik's unofficial translation)
"While I was staying in Los Angeles for the filming of 'Memoirs of Geisha /SAYURI' (2004), I received a word
that director Inarritu wanted to meet me, so we met at a bar in a hotel in Santa Monica.
At that time he explained to me the rough synopsis of his new film. Its screenplay had not yet been completed
then, but to understand the charm of that film, his explanation was more than enough. He said, "Your role is
that of a father who has a deaf-mute daughter. He only appears only at the first and last scenes of the film,
but he must be a person who makes his presence felt.
Since I liked one of his films, 'Amores Perros', and was very impressed by his enthusiasm toward this new
film, as well as his personality and his outlook (not to mention his hairstyle, which gave people the impression
that he must have just got up), I told him at once that I would like to appear in his film.
This new film, Babel, will be at last released in Japan during 'Golden Week' (May). This is a film with the
underlying theme that in this seemingly hopeless world where one person cannot understand another, we can
still find a small ray of hope.
It is a great pleasure to me that the film, the staff, (especially Rodrigo who is an excellent photographer) and
the main cast ( including Ms Kikuchi in the Japan part) are all highly regarded."
(I have posted the same translation on my Babel site.)
(January 3, 2007)
The Koki Mitani page on the PARCO Theater website recently announced that the English version of
University of Laughs is due to be performed in the West End of London under the title of "The Last Laugh"
from March, 2007. The page also reports that prior to the West End performance, some performances are
due to be held for a short period at some cities near London.
From 13th to 17th February, The Last laugh is due to be performed at Milton Keynes Theatre
(December 3, 2006)
The cinema cafe.net has recently announced that the "Babel" release date in Japan will be in early May,
2007. I am most interested to see if the Japanese poster of this film contains the photo of Koji Yakusho or
This is what I wrote for my "Babel "page on November 14. I am repeating it here for those who may not
have seen it previously:
Today I received the large format photobook of "Babel" published by Taschen from Amazon. On page 239 of
the book, I found director Inarritu's very impressive comment on Koji Yakusho:
"Chieko's story is not about pathological sex but about the need for affection. When words are not
alternative, and one can't touch or be touched by them, the body is transformed into only tool of expression.
To be able to suggest and support Chieko's complex past with a couple of scenes, I needed a similarly
complex but profoundly human and emphathetic presence. In a world in which acting styles seem to run
towards shrieks of exaggeration, it was a pleasure to find myself with an actor whose spirit, reliability, and
elegance are indicative of an economy of movement that very few in the world succeed in mastering. Koji
Yakusho's disciplined and human warmth lent dignity to Chieko's story. The actor's micromovements, from
lifting an eyelid to holding up a hand, make all the difference."
On the last page of this book, I found the photo of the final scene where the father (whom Koji plays)
embraces his daughter, Chieko, (played by Rinko Kikuchi) in the twilight on the balcony of a skyscraper
building in Tokyo. I felt utterly moved to see Koji's sad but dignified look and his way of holding her; for in
his look, I sensed his various emotions, such as affection, gentleness, concern, and pain all at the same time.
Koji's eye expressions are always effective and unforgettable.
The Twitch film site reports that the official website of "Sakebi/Retribution" by Kiyoshi Kurosawa has been
set up. The film tag is "Fear of the forgotten past".
TheTokyo FILMeX site put the video clip of the part of Koji Yakusho's greeting and the Q & A session with
Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Here are more photos of Koji.
On Nov.19 (Sun), Koji Yakusho greeted the audience from the stage with Kiyoshi Kurosawa
at the Japanese premiere of "Sakebi/Retribution" at the 2006 Tokyo FILMex. Here is the report by Jason
Gray. You can see the nice photo of Koji and K.Kurosawa on that site.
The official website of Koji's latest film, "Argentine Babaa/Hag" has been set up. You can see a short clip of
the film. The scene where Koji and Kyoka Suzuki dance the tango on the rooftop is superb!
Two sheets of special souvenir stamps about Japanese Movies went on sale on October 10.
Koji Yakusho's "Lost Paradise/Shitsurakuen" is selected as one of the 20 movies since prewar days.
Three of Koji Yakusho's latest films are to be shown at three international film festivals viz:
1. "The Uchoten Hotel" by Koki Mitani at the Montreal Film Festival
2. "Sakebi" by Kiyoshi Kurosawa at the Venice Film Festival
3. "Babel" by A. Inarritu at the Toronto Film Festival.
I had wished that Koji would be able to attend these festivals in person but his office announced yesterday
that due to the filming of "Argentine Hag" by Naoki Nagao, it would only be the Toronoto Film Festival that
he can attend.
I just found the photo site of "Retribution/Sakebi".
The official website of "Soredemo Boku wa Yattenai" by Masayuki Suo has been set up!
It is not completely ready yet, but you can have a glimpse of Koji as a lawyer, Masayoshi Arakawa.
On July 30, the Sport Nippon reported that Koji Yakusho and Kyoka Suzuki would star in a new film
entitled, "Aruzentin Babaa" (Argentine hag) based on a novel by Japanese novelist Banana Yoshimoto's
Koji Yakusho's new film with Kiyoshi kurosawa, entitled "Sakebi"(scream or shout or shriek) , which was
shot during January and February in 2006 has been selected as an "Out of competition Midnight" movie for
the Venice Film Festival. Here's a picture of one scene from the film. Koji seems to play the role of a police
Koji Yakusho's official website was renewed on July 4 and it says that Koji finished filming Masayuki Suo's
new film, "Soredemo Bokuwa Yattenai" in early July. It also says that Koji will join in making a new film
towards the end of this July!
Koji is now filming Masayuki Suo's new production, entitled, "Soredemo Boku wa Yattenai"
("All the same I have not done it"). This is director Suo's first film after "Shall we dansu?" in 1996.
Koji's acting in "Babel" seems to have impacted on the audience at Cannes. Here is one of
A photo of Koji and his wife, Saeko at the 59th Cannes Film Festival!
Alejandra Gonzales Inarritu won the Best Director award, and "Babel" won the Ecumenical Jury award at the
59th Cannes Film Festival.
(Koji Yakusho's "Eureka" directed by Shinji Aoyama won the Ecumenical Jury award in 2000.)
You can see some photos of Koji Yakusho and Bruce Willis at Cannes here.
As expected, the American RJ and Japanese RJ got together at Cannes on May 21!
The DVD of "The Uchoten Hotel" (the special edition and the standard edition) will be on sale from August
11, 2006. It has the English subtitles.
On April 24, 2006, the list of the Japanese cast who have dubbed the voices of the characters of the US
animation film, "Over the Hedge" was announced. And guess who has dubbed the Racoon RJ voiced by
Bruce Willis. The answer is Koji Yakusho!
Reportedly, Koji Yakusho agreed to do the job of dubbing, after accepting an eager request by DreamWorks,
the production company, who has decided on Koji Yakusho for the reasons that his age and quality of voice
were close to those of Bruce Willis, and because Koji is already internationally well-known.
Koji, who finished the dubbing session in mid-April, commented, saying, " I made a great effort to convey the
atmosphere of RJ created by Mr. Bruce Willis but actually, I found it rather difficult. I do love RJ's amiable
"Over the Hedge" will be screened during the 2006 Cannes Film Festival as one of the "Out of Competition"
movies. The April 24 issue of Sports Nippon newspaper reports that American RJ, Bruice Willis and Japanese
RJ, Koji Yakusho may get together in Cannes.
Following "Unagi/The Eel " (1997) by Shohei Imamura, "Eureka" (2000) by Shinji Aoyama, and "Akaihashi
no Shitano Nuruimizu/Warm Water under a Red Bridge" (2001) also by Shohei Imamura , "Babel" by
Inarritu has become Koji Yakusho's fourth film to be entered for the competition at the Cannes Film
Festival. Koji (who learnt of the good news through an e-mail from director Inarritu), commented, "Even at
the screenplay stage, I felt that 'Babel' would become one of the eternal masterpieces of the cinema. Starting
from its showing at Cannes, 'Babel' will be sure to impress lots of people throughout the world."
Incidentally, Koji himself will be visiting Cannes for the showing of "Babel" which is currently scheduled for
Tuesday May 23.
Source: Sankei Sports Newspaper, April 21, 2006
"Babel" by Alejandro Gonzalez INARRITU was selected as one of the 19 competition movies for the 59th
Cannes Film Festival.
Zhang Ziyi, who played Sayuri in "Memoirs of a Geisha" has been appointed as a member of the juries for
Here is the list of the members of the competition jury.
WONG Kar Wai, President Chinese director
Monica BELLUCCI - Italian actress
Helena BONHAM CARTER - English actress
Lucrecia MARTEL -Argentinean director
ZHANG Ziyi - Chinese actress
Samuel L. JACKSON - American actor
Patrice LECONTE - French director
Tim ROTH - English actor
Elia SULEIMAN - Palestinian director
(April 9 )
Three kinds of DVDs of "Memoirs of a Geisha (SAYURI) will be on sale from July 5, 06.
On a site of a French interview with Michael Pitt, there are some photos from "Silk" where you can see Koji
Yakusho as Hara Jubei, Michael Pitt as Herve Joncour, and Sei Ashina as a Japanese villlage girl. I was
totally enthralled by Koji as Hara Jubei.
Since February 27 Koji Yakusho has been joining in filming of "SILK", both at an open set of an Edo period
hamlet, specially construted in Iriyamabe, and at the Baba house museum in Matsumoto city. In addition,
while he was staying in Nagano prefecture, he was interviewed for a local radio program on March 13.
On March 5, after the first showing of "The Uchoten Hotel" at SUKARAZA Theater in Ginza, Tokyo,
director Koki Mitani, together with Koji Yakusho, Takako Matsu, Keiko Toda and Katsuhisa Namase
appeared on the stage to greet the audience. Their purpose was to celebrate the fact that this movie had
gained over 5 billion yen box-office income by the end of February. The total audience was reported to be
4.11 million persons and the actual box-office income had already reached 5.5 billion yen by the end of the
first week of March.
Koji Yakusho's speech at SUKARAZA Theater made the audience laugh. He said that he was extremely
happy to find that "The Uchoten Hotel" had exceeded last year's no.1 box-office income achieved by the
Japanese anime movie titled, "The Pocket Monster"( 4.4 billion yen) , adding that he was confident now
about his continuing to work as an actor !
For the details and the photos of this event, please click here.
( March 4)
On March 3, Koji Yakusho's official website announces that Koji is now joining the filming of "SILK", and
that on March 5, he will greet the audience from the stage at the Hibiya Sukaraza movie theater, after the
first showing session of "Uchoten Hotel" , together with Koki Mitani, Takako Matsu, Keiko Toda, and
Katsuhisa Namase. Their purpose is to celebrate that this movie has gained five billion yen box-office income
and that the total number of the audience has exceeded 3.5 million as of last weekend. That was the report
from the official website of "The Uchoten Hotel."
The City of Sakata in Yamagata prefecture is now recruiting 56 extras for the filming of SILK".
Date: March 21 (Tues)
Place: In the vicinity of the Sankyo Dock area in Sakata city
Extras needed :
* Boatmen: 9
*Town's folks: 10 males (10 to 60 years old)
12 females ( 10 to 60 years old)
* Dock workers: 25 men (20 to 50 years old)
Application deadline: February 28
Info & application: Sakata Tourist & Souvenir Sales Association
According to the Ropeofsilicon.com site, the "Babel" release date seems to be October 6, 2006. (Limited
Koji Yakusho's "Lakeside Murder Case", directed by Shinji Aoyama was supposed to be shown on FUJI TV
from 9:00 p.m. on February 3. This was quite a timely choice, since February is usually a month for school
entrance examinations in Japan.
But instead of this movie, "Mina no Ie (Everyman's house)" directed by Koki Mitani was shown! This was a
timely choice in another sense: Koki Mitani's "Uchoten Hotel"(starring Koji Yakusho) , which started from
January 14, has become a big hit, so Fuji TV must have decided to show Mr Mitani's former two movies,
"Mina no Ie" and "Rajio no Jikan ( to be shown on February 4)
Koji Yakusho fans, however, were not so disappointed; "Lakeside Murder Case" is due to be shown on
another day and "Uchoten Hotel" 's big hit is a great joy!
Asked to select five Koji Yakusho movies for biginners by the webmaster of the HOGA (Japanese movies)
Central site, I have selected, "Shall we dansu?", "The eel / Unagi", "Lost Paradise/Shitsurakuen", "CURE"
and "EUREKA". Please click here for the site.
Here is another confirmation of Koji Yakusho's appearing in "Silk".
Koji Yakusho's office hasn't announced anything about it yet, but Koji seems likely to appear in a film
adaptation of Alessandro Barrico's bestselling novel 'SILK' with Keira knightley and Michael Pitt. His role
seems to be that of a Japanese local baron, named Hara Kei: On January 6, the Yamagata Newspaper
reported that the filming of this "SILK" would be held from March 20 in Sakata City in Yamagata
prefecture, adding that Koji Yakusho and actress, Miki Nakatani are due to appear in this film, too.
Please check "Silk" on the IONCINEMA site.
According to Koji Yakusho's official website, which was renewed on December 26, 05, Koji is due to start
filming a new film directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa; it seems to be the 4th J Horror Theater film after "Rin-ne".
(January 1, 2006)
January 1 is Koji Yakusho's birthday. He was born in Isahaya, Nagasaki prefecture on January 1, 1956, so he
has just become 50 years old. Many happy returns of the day, dear Yakusho-san!
The Japan Times put the review on "Memoirs of a Geisha/SAYURI" today.
The official website of the "The Uchoten Hotel" was renewed today. It is breathtakingly beautiful! Of course
you see some photos of Koji Yakusho as handsome deputy manager of Hotel, Avanti. Please click here.
The press reported today that Ken Watanabe married an actress Kaho Minami (41) on December 3.
Reportedly they registered their marrige on December 3. Kaho Minami is also a devorcee. She is a very
attractive actress. Their message to the press sounds very impressive.
Here's the news site. (The Japan Times)
If you want to know the latest info. on Japanese movies, please visit this great website. You will be able to
know something about Koji Yakusho, too.
On November 25, one of the Japanese daily newspapers,"Sports Nippon" had an article about 'Babel' and
Koji Yakusho. Please read Pymmik's translation.
(November 14, 2005)
On 12th November I went to the 2005 Nakadai Theater Festival, held at the Mumei-juku acting studio at
Tatsuya Nakadai s house, in Setagaya-ku, in Tokyo.
During the festival session from November 4 to 13,two plays were performed :one 45- minute play by four
actors, and another 40- minute play by a single actress were performed. All the stage performers were former
Mumei-juku actors and the director, Mai Okamoto was also a former Mumei-juku actress.
How I enjoyed those plays! The venue was at the small-sized studio for rehearsals. The distance between the
stage and the audience was very close, only about one meter. All of the performers are now noted actors and
actresses, Kumiko Komiya, Azusa Watanabe, Susumu Kawamura, Naoko Ema and Kanan Nakahara; but
they came back to their old rehearsal studio to show their acting to Mumei-juku fans.
Tatsuya Nakadai s house stands on the top of a hill and the slope up to it has been nicknamed,Mumei-
zaka�or �The unknown performers' slope.�
At the bottom of the Nakadai Theater's red-brick elegant-looking building, there is a blue metal plaque with
words composed by Tatsuya Nakadai and his wife, the late Yasuko Miyazaki. The inscription is really moving!
Here is my translation:
Performers, young and unknown
run up this steep slope,
solely with one purpose in mind.
Here remain the recollections of younger days.
People call this slope, Mumei-zaka or
The unknown performers' slope
Mumei-juku started in 1975
Tatsuya Nakadai &
Ryu Tomoe (Pen name of Yasuko Miyazaki) .
Koji Yakusho was one of the unknown performers, years back and many times he must have climbed up the
slope solely with one purpose in mind, trying to become a versatile actor like his acting teacher, Tatsuya
(November 7, 2005)
Koji Yakusho fans have long wanted to see photos of Koji in his new film, "The Uchoten Hotel" , which is
due to be released nationwide from January 14, 2006.
Now we can see quite a fanny one of Koji as deputy manager of Hotel Avanti. What is he wearing on his head,
I wonder? He must be trying to fulfil his duties very hard,
Koji Yakusho News 6
(November 7, 2005 - December 3, 2007)