Veteran actress Awashima Chikage died this morning of pancreatic cancer at a Tokyo hospital. She was 87. With almost 100 movie roles to her credit, she was best known for her role in the 1955 movie “Meoto Zenzai” and was considered one of the great beauties of postwar Japanese cinema. Her most recent work was the 2010 movie “Haru’s Journey.”
Born Nakagawa Keiko in Tokyo in 1924 she was a graduate of the all-female Takarazuka theatrical troupe. After leaving she joined the Shochiku movie studio and made her big screen debut in 1950 in Shibuya Minoru’s comedy “Tenya Wanya.” With her light and breezy style she created a whole new category of actress in such such satirical comedies as “Jiyuu Gakko” and “Honjitsu Kyuushin.” In 1955 she teamed up with Morishige Hisaya, one of the biggest stars of the era, and played the role of a geisha in the Toyoda Shiro film “Meoto Zenzai.” The role was her stepping stone to major fame. She later reunited with Morishige in the so-called “Ekimae” movie series and finally in 2001 as the central elderly couple in “Last Dance” (right photo).