Koji Yakusho

Kōji Hashimoto (橋本 広司, Hashimoto Kōji, born 1 January 1956), known professionally as Kōji Yakusho (役所 広司, Yakusho Kōji), is a Japanese actor.[1][2] He is well known for his starring roles in Shall We Dance? (1996), Cure (1997), Memoirs of a Geisha (2005), 13 Assassins (2010), The Third Murder (2017), The Blood of Wolves (2018) and Under the Open Sky (2020). He is also best known internationally for his role as Takuro Yamashita in Shōhei Imamura's The Eel, which won the Palme d'Or at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival and as Yasujiro Wataya in Alejandro González Iñárritu's Babel (2006) which was nominated for Best Picture at the 79th Academy Awards. Yakusho has won three Japan Academy Prize for his performances in Shall We Dance?, The Third Murder and The Blood of Wolves.[3]

Koji Yakusho
Yakusho Koji "The World of Harada Masato" at Opening Ceremony of the 28th Tokyo International Film Festival (22403788836) (cropped).jpg
Yakusho at the 26th Tokyo International Film Festival (2015)
Kōji Hashimoto

(1956-01-01) 1 January 1956 (age 66)
Years active1979–present
Height179 cm (5 ft 10+12 in)
Saeko Kawatsu
(m. 1982)


Yakusho was born in Isahaya, Nagasaki, the youngest of five brothers. After graduation from Nagasaki Prefectural High School of Technology in 1974, he worked at the Chiyoda municipal ward office, or kuyakusho, in Tokyo, from which he later took his stage name. In 1976, he saw a production of Maxim Gorky's The Lower Depths and was inspired, first to watch, and then later to take part in, as many plays as possible.[2]

In the spring of 1978 he auditioned for Tatsuya Nakadai's the Mumeijuku (Studio for Unknown Performers) acting studio, and was one of four chosen out of 800 applicants.[2] While at the school he met actress Saeko Kawatsu, whom he married in 1982. Their son was born in 1985.

In 1983, he landed the role of Oda Nobunaga in the year-long NHK drama Tokugawa Ieyasu and was catapulted to fame. He also appeared in a TV version of Miyamoto Musashi from 1984 to 1985. For several years, he played Kuji Shinnosuke (or "Sengoku"), one of the title characters in the jidaigeki Sambiki ga Kiru!. He played a major character in Juzo Itami's 1986 Tampopo.[2]

In 1988, he was given a special award for work in cinema by the Japanese Minister of Education, Science, Sports and Culture and continued to appear in films and in a number of TV shows through the '90s.[2]

In 1996 and 1997, Yakusho enjoyed several major successes. The Eel, directed by Shohei Imamura, in which he played the eel-loving lead, won the Palme d'Or at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival.[4] Lawrence Van Gelder in the New York Times called his performance "unerring."[5] A Lost Paradise, about a double-suicide, was second only to Princess Mononoke at the Japanese box office.

International breakthrough: Shall We Dance?Edit

Kōji Yakusho at the 31st Tokyo International Film Festival in 2018

Shall We Dance? was such a major hit in Japan that it inspired a domestic dance craze. Ballroom groups and dance schools multiplied in the country after the film's release, and people who previously would never admit to taking lessons announced that they did with pride.[6] Director Masayuki Suo said of his lead, who until that point was known mostly for playing good-looking samurai, "we thought he could play this overworked, tired Japanese businessman, and he did.... [H]e pulled everything off and took his dance training so seriously."[6]

The film also was one of Japan's highest-grossing movies outside the country.[2][6] It earned $9.5 million in the US and inspired a remake starring Jennifer Lopez and Richard Gere, with Gere playing Yakusho's role.[7]

Yakusho next won the Hochi Film Award for Best Actor for Bounce Ko Gals, a film which dealt with high school prostitution specifically, and money worship in general. He collaborated with horror director Kiyoshi Kurosawa in Cure,[2] License to Live,[8] Seance, Charisma,[2] Pulse,[9] Doppelganger,[10] Retribution,[11] and Tokyo Sonata.[12] Yakusho found further recognition with international audiences to some extent with roles in such films as Memoirs of a Geisha and Babel. In the latter, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, he played the father of the deaf-mute played by Rinko Kikuchi.[13]

Later workEdit

In 2009, he debuted as director and writer of Toad's Oil. In 2010 and 2011 he was part of both ensemble casts in Takashi Miike's samurai films, 13 Assassins and Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai. The latter was in 3D and the first 3D film to be in competition at the Cannes Film Festival.

In the 2011 war drama film Rengō Kantai Shirei Chōkan: Yamamoto Isoroku, Yakusho portrayed Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. Yakusho was reportedly the only actor considered for the role; had he not accepted it, the film would have been canceled.[14]

In 2018 he was in The Blood of Wolves.



Year Title Role Director Notes Ref.
1979 Hunter in the Dark Kuwano Hideo Gosha
The Last Game Kihachi Okamoto
1980 Twelve Months Young soldier (voice) Kimio Yabuki
1981 Willful Murder Journalist Kei Kumai
1982 Onimasa Kondō Hideo Gosha
Eternal Monument Otaka Tadashi Imai
The Legend of Sayo Hatsutaro Tetsutaro Murano
1985 Tampopo Man in White Suit Juzo Itami
1987 The Great Department Store Robbery Cello player Azuma Morisaki
1988 Another Way: D-Kikan Joho Naoto Sekiya Kōsaku Yamashita Lead role
1990 Under Aurora Genzo Tamiya Toshio Gotō Lead role
1993 Gurenbana Kenzo Nakada Mamoru Watanabe
Drug Connection Ryosuke Kano Shōkaku Baba Lead role
1994 Osaka Gokudo Senso: Shinoidare Ippei Yoshikawa Tatsuoki Hosono
1995 Kamikaze Taxi Kantake Masato Harada Lead role
1996 Shall We Dance? Shohei Sugiyama Masayuki Suo Lead role
Sleeping Man Kamimura Kōhei Oguri
Shabu Gokudo Makabe Tatsuoki Hosono Lead role
1997 Lost Paradise Shoichiro Kuki Yoshimitsu Morita Lead role
The Eel Takuro Yamashita Shohei Imamura Lead role
Bounce Ko Gals Oshima Masato Harada Lead role
Cure Kenichi Takabe Kiyoshi Kurosawa Lead role
1998 Bonds Takaaki Ise/Tetsuro Haga Kichitaro Negishi
Tadon to chikuwa Kida Jun Ichikawa Lead role
1999 License to Live Fujimori Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Charisma Goro Yabuike Kiyoshi Kurosawa Lead role
Spellbound Hiroshi Kitano Masato Harada Lead role
2000 Swing Man Movie star Tetsu Maeda
Dora-heita Koheita "Dora-heita" Mochizuki Kon Ichikawa Lead role
Eureka Makoto Sawai Shinji Aoyama Lead role
2001 Pulse Ship captain Kiyoshi Kurosawa Cameo
Warm Water Under a Red Bridge Yosuke Sasano Shōhei Imamura Lead role
2002 The Choice of Hercules Atsuyuki Sassa Masato Harada Lead role
2003 Doppelganger Michio Hayasaki Kiyoshi Kurosawa Lead role
Fireflies: River of Light Mr. Takiguchi Hiroshi Sugawara
2004 The Hunter and the Hunted Detective Jin Sekikawa Izuru Narushima Lead role
Tokyo: Level One The Governor of Tokyo Gen Yamakawa Lead role
Lakeside Murder Case Shunsuke Namiki Shinji Aoyama Lead role
University of Laughs Mutsuo Sakisaka Mamoru Hoshi Lead role
2005 Lorelei: The Witch of the Pacific Ocean Masami Shin'ichi Shinji Higuchi Lead role
Memoirs of a Geisha Nobu Rob Marshall American film
2006 The Uchōten Hotel Heikichi Shindo Kōki Mitani Lead role
Babel Yasujiro Wataya Alejandro González Iñárritu Foreign film
Retribution Noboru Yoshioka Kiyoshi Kurosawa Lead role
2007 I Just Didn't Do It Masayoshi Arakawa Masayuki Suo
Argentine Baba Satoru Wakui Naoki Nagao Lead role
Silk Hara Jubei François Girard Foreign film
Walking My Life Yukihiro Fujiyama Satoshi Isaka Lead role
2008 Paco and the Magical Book Onuki Tetsuya Nakashima Lead role
Tokyo Sonata The Robber Kiyoshi Kurosawa
2009 Mt. Tsurugidake Morisaku Furuta Daisaku Kimura
Gelatin Silver Love Client Kazumi Kurigami
Toad's Oil Takuro Yazawa Himself Lead role, also director and writer
2010 13 Assassins Shinzaemon Shimada Takashi Miike Lead role
The Last Ronin Magozaemon Senoo Shigemichi Sugita Lead role
2011 Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai Kageyu Saito Takashi Miike
Isoroku Isoroku Yamamoto Izuru Narushima Lead role
Chronicle of My Mother Kōsaku Masato Harada Lead role
The Woodsman and the Rain Katsuhiko Shūichi Okita Lead role
2012 A Terminal Trust Shinzo Egi Masayuki Suo
2013 The Kiyosu Conference Shibata Katsuie Kōki Mitani Lead role
2014 The World of Kanako Akikazu Fujishima Tetsuya Nakashima Lead role
A Samurai Chronicle Shūkoku Toda Takashi Koizumi Lead role
2015 The Emperor in August Korechika Anami Masato Harada Lead role
The Boy and the Beast Kumatetsu (voice) Mamoru Hosoda Lead role
Mifune: The Last Samurai Himself Steven Okazaki Documentary film
2017 Sekigahara Tokugawa Ieyasu Masato Harada
Oh Lucy! Komori Atsuko Hirayanagi American-Japanese film
The Third Murder Misumi Hirokazu Kore-eda
2018 The Blood of Wolves Shōgo Ōgami Kazuya Shiraishi Lead role
Mirai Grandpa (voice) Mamoru Hosoda
2019 Wings Over Everest Jiang Yuesheng Fay Yu Lead role; Chinese film
Whistleblower Kase Katsuo Fukuzawa Cameo
2021 Under the Open Sky Masao Mikami Miwa Nishikawa Lead role [15]
The Supporting Actors: The Movie Himself Daigo Matsui [16]
Belle Suzu's father (voice) Mamoru Hosoda [17]
2022 The Pass: Last Days of the Samurai Kawai Tsugunosuke Takashi Koizumi Lead role [18]
2023 Untitled Wim Wenders Project Wim Wenders Lead role [19]
Família Seiji Izuru Narushima Lead role [20]
Ginga Tetsudō no Chichi Masajirō Miyazawa Izuru Narushima Lead role [21]


Year Title Role Network Notes Ref(s)
1980 Natchan no shashinkan Kayama NHK Asadora
Shishi no Jidai Murakami Taiji NHK Taiga drama
1981 Onna Taikōki Oda Nobutaka NHK Taiga drama
1983 Tokugawa Ieyasu Oda Nobunaga NHK Taiga drama
1984–1985 Miyamoto Musashi Miyamoto Musashi NHK Lead role
1986 Inochi Hamamura NHK Taiga drama
1987–1995 Sanbiki ga Kiru! Kuji Shin'nosuke TV Asahi
1990 Moeyo Ken Hijikata Toshizō TV Tokyo Lead role; miniseries
1991 Takeda Shingen Takeda Shingen TBS Lead role; TV movie
1994 Hana no Ran Ibuki Saburo Nobutsuna NHK Taiga drama
2000 Aikotoba wa Yūki Jintaro Akatsuki Fuji TV Lead role
Seance Sato Fuji TV Lead role; TV movie
2010 Wagaya no Rekishi Narrator Fuji TV Miniseries
2014 Oyaji no Senaka Sōsuke Aoki TBS Lead role; episode 2
2017 Ties: A Miraculous Colt Masayuki NHK Lead role; miniseries
Rikuoh Kōichi Miyazawa TBS Lead role
The Supporting Actors Himself TV Tokyo Episode 1
2018 The Supporting Actors 2 Himself TV Tokyo Episode 1
2019 Idaten Kanō Jigorō NHK Taiga drama
2021 Pension Metsa Tsuneki Wowow Episode 1 [22]
Matrilineal Family Yoshizō Yajima TV Asahi Special appearance; miniseries [23]
2023 The Days Netflix Lead role [24]

Dubbing rolesEdit


Awards and nominationsEdit

Award Year Category Nominated Work Result
Asian Film Awards 2011 Best Actor in a Leading Role 13 Assassins Nominated
2012 Chronicle of My Mother Nominated
2019 The Blood of Wolves Won
Excellence In Asian Cinema Award Won
2021 Best Actor in a Leading Role Under the Open Sky Nominated
Asia-Pacific Film Festival 1998 Best Actor in a Leading Role The Eel Won
Blue Ribbon Awards 1997 Best Actor in a Leading Role Shall We Dance?, Sleeping Man, Shabu gokudo Won
1998 The Eel, Lost Paradise,Cure Won
2016 The Emperor in August Nominated
2018 Best Actor in a Supporting Role The Third Murder, Sekigahara Nominated
2019 Best Actor in a Leading Role The Blood of Wolves Nominated
2022 Under the Open Sky Nominated
Chicago International Film Festival 2001 Best Actor Warm Water Under a Red Bridge Won
2020 Best Performance Under the Open Sky Won
Dubai International Film Festival (Muhr AsiaAfrica Feature) 2011 Best Actor The Woodsman and the Rain Won
Elan d'or Awards 1984 Newcomer of the Year Himself Won
Hochi Film Award 1996 Best Actor in a Leading Role Shall We Dance?, Sleeping Man, Shabu gokudo Won
1997 The Eel, Lost Paradise, Bounce ko GALS Won
2017 Best Actor in a Supporting Role The Third Murder, Sekigahara Won
2018 Best Actor in a Leading Role The Blood of Wolves Won
2021 Under the Open Sky Nominated
Japan Academy Prize 1997 Best Actor in a Leading Role Shall We Dance? Won
1998 The Eel Won
1999 Bonds Nominated
2000 Spellbound Nominated
2001 Dora-heita Nominated
2002 Warm Water Under a Red Bridge Nominated
2003 The Choice of Hercules Nominated
2005 University of Laughs Nominated
2007 The Uchōten Hotel Nominated
2008 Walking My Life Nominated
2009 Paco and the Magical Book Nominated
2011 13 Assassins Nominated
2012 The Last Ronin Nominated
2013 Chronicle of My Mother, Isoroku Nominated
2015 A Samurai Chronicle Nominated
2016 The Emperor in August Nominated
2018 Best Actor in a Supporting Role The Third Murder Won
Sekigahara Nominated
2019 Best Actor in a Leading Role The Blood of Wolves Won
2022 Under the Open Sky Nominated
Japanese Film Critics Awards 1996 Best Actor in a Leading Role Shall We Dance?, Sleeping Man, Shabu gokudo Won
Kinema Junpo Awards 1997 Best Actor in a Leading Role Shall We Dance?, Sleeping Man, Shabu gokudo Won
1998 The Eel, Cure Won
2022 Under the Open Sky Won
Kyoto International Art and Film Festival 2014 Toshiro Mifune Award Himself Won
Mainichi Film Awards 1996 Best Actor in a Leading Role Kamikaze Taxi Won
1997 Shall We Dance?, Sleeping Man, Shabu gokudo Won
2018 Best Actor in a Supporting Role The Third Murder Won
2019 Best Actor in a Leading Role The Blood of Wolves Nominated
2022 Under the Open Sky Nominated
Nikkan Sports Film Award 1996 Best Actor in a Leading Role Shall We Dance? Won
2017 Best Actor in a Supporting Role The Third Murder, Sekigahara Won
2018 Best Actor in a Leading Role The Blood of Wolves Nominated
Osaka Cinema Festival 2019 Best Actor The Blood of Wolves Won
Silver Screen Awards 2017 Cinema Legend Award Himself Won
Sitges Film Festival 2014 Best Actor The World of Kanako Won
Tokyo International Film Festival 1997 Best Actor Cure Won
Tokyo Sports Film Award 2018 Best Actor in a Supporting Role The Third Murder Nominated
2019 Best Actor in a Leading Role The Blood of Wolves Nominated
Yokohama Film Festival 1997 Best Actor in a Leading Role Shall We Dance?, Sleeping Man, Shabu gokudo Won
2005 University of Laughs, Yudan Taiteki, Tokyo Genpatsu Won
2019 The Blood of Wolves Won
Zenkoku Eiren Awards 1997 Best Actor Shall We Dance? Won
2013 Chronicle of My Mother' Won
2018 Best Supporting Actor The Third Murder Won
2022 Best Actor Under the Open Sky Won
Year Honor Ref.
2012 Medal with Purple Ribbon [26]


  1. ^ "Yakusho Kōji", Nihon jinmei daijiten+Plus, Kōdansha, retrieved 13 February 2012
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Jonathan Crow (2013). "Koji Yakusho". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Baseline & All Movie Guide. Archived from the original on 2013-03-29. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
  3. ^ "第46回報知映画賞ノミネート決定". PR Times. Retrieved November 13, 2021.
  4. ^ "Festival de Cannes: The Eel". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-09-24.
  5. ^ "The Eel:Passion That Seethes Under the Surface". New York Times. 1998-08-21. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
  6. ^ a b c "Masayuki Suo's Whole Wide Whirl". San Francisco Chronicle. 1997-07-13.
  7. ^ "Shall We Dance?". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
  8. ^ Mes, Tom (15 August 2001). "Midnight Eye review: License to Live". Midnight Eye.
  9. ^ Kipp, Jeremiah (June 20, 2005). "Pulse". Slant Magazine.
  10. ^ Mes, Tom (15 April 2004). "Midnight Eye review: Doppelgänger". Midnight Eye.
  11. ^ Bourne, Christopher (January 27, 2012). "Review: Kiyoshi Kurosawa's "Retribution"". Meniscus.
  12. ^ Rafferty, Terrence (March 6, 2009). "This Time, the Horror's in the Normality". The New York Times.
  13. ^ "Review: Babel". LA Weekly. 2006-10-26. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
  14. ^ "Yakusho Koji portrays WWII naval commander Yamamoto Isoroku". TokyoGraph. May 14, 2011. Retrieved 28 March 2013.
  15. ^ "役所広司、西川美和監督と初タッグ! 仲野太賀、長澤まさみら共演「すばらしき世界」21年公開". eiga.com. Retrieved July 8, 2020.
  16. ^ "映画「バイプレイヤーズ」の新キャスト8名解禁!有村架純、天海祐希、役所広司ら". Natalie. Retrieved February 4, 2021.
  17. ^ "役所広司、3度目の細田守監督作品に参加 『竜とそばかすの姫』主人公の父親役". Oricon. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  18. ^ "峠 最後のサムライ". eiga.com. Retrieved February 21, 2021.
  19. ^ "ヴィム・ヴェンダース監督、役所広司主演で日本の公衆トイレを映画に". Crank-in!. Retrieved May 12, 2022.
  20. ^ "役所広司と吉沢亮が父子に「ファミリア」公開!松重豊、MIYAVI、佐藤浩市ら共演". Natalie. Retrieved August 22, 2022.
  21. ^ "役所広司主演『銀河鉄道の父』映画化 菅田将暉が坊主頭で宮沢賢治役 森七菜が妹に". Oricon. Retrieved September 19, 2022.
  22. ^ "役所広司&石橋静河&光石研ら、小林聡美と2人芝居「ペンションメッツァ」". Cinema Cafe. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  23. ^ "役所広司 テレ朝「女系家族」に特別出演 遺産相続争い発端の当主・矢島嘉蔵役". Sponichi. Retrieved December 2, 2021.
  24. ^ "役所広司、Netflixシリーズ初主演 福島第一原発事故の真実に迫る『THE DAYS』配信決定". Crank-in!. Retrieved September 15, 2022.
  25. ^ "バンド・オブ・ブラザース". Warner Bros. Retrieved December 31, 2021.
  26. ^ ""紫綬褒章"役所広司、女優陣の祝福に感無量". Oricon. Retrieved January 20, 2022.

External linksEdit