Japan Loses Two Veteran Directors

Izu no Odoriko, Ninjagari

The Japanese movie industry lost a pair of its veteran directors in the last week.

Nishikawa Katsumi died at a Tokyo hospital of pneumonia on the morning of April 6. He was 91. Nishikawa joined Shochiku’s studios in Ofuna in 1939 and spent 13 years working as an assistant director before landing his first directorial job. He moved to Nikkatsu in 1954 and in the following years he helped shape the career of a young Yoshinaga Sayuri (65) and Takahashi Hideki (66) in movies like 1963’s “Aoi Sanmyaku” and “Izu no Odoriko” (poster left) and the late Ishihara Yujiro (1934-87) in “Wakai Hito” (1962). In the 1970s, he directed the golden couple of Yamaguchi Momoe (51) and Miura Tomokazu (58), who would later marry, in movies such as “Shiosai” (1975) and “Shunkinsho” (1976). In 2001, his hometown in Tottori Prefecture built a memorial hall in his honor.

Director and screenwriter Yamanouchi Tetsuya died of heart failure at his home in Hiroshima Prefecture on March 3, it was revealed yesterday. He was 75. After graduating university in 1957, Yamanouchi joined the Toei studio, and made his directorial debut with “Ninjagari” (poster right) in 1964. He is best known for turning out “jidaigeki” or period dramas for the big and small screen, though he often spiced things up with elements of horror and science fiction. He worked on the popular “Mito Komon” and “Oh-oka Echizen” TV series.