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Monday, June 29, 2015

Japanese Actor: Hasegawa Kazuo

Thanks to a neat 1950s souvenir album find given to me by my friend Vince, let's take a short look at a Japanese actor Hasegawa Kazuo (長谷川 一夫 Hasegawa Kazuo).

That's him in the photo above - I know... he looks pretty damn convincing as a female!

Hasegawa was born on February 27, 1908 in Kyoto, specifically the Nagoya sake brewery in a place called Fushimi.

When he was just five-years-old, his father pushed him into acting to act in a kabuki play called Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami, in the role of Kan Shusai.

I suppose he was good because he was eventually invited to join the Japanese movie company Shochiku Company Limited (松竹株式会社 Shōchiku Kabushiki gaisha) that also put on kabuki performances. It is still going on (not so strongly) doing films in Kyoto.

His first film was widely promoted - the 1927 movie Chigo no Kenpo, and well-received - and was actually billed as Chojiro Hayashi.

How well-received... the studio pumped out THREE more films with Hasegawa (still billed as Chojiro Hayashi) as the lead (Ojo Sankichi, Rangun and Oni Azami), and including the first film, all were released within a 40-day period.

Over 11 years Hasegawa appeared in around 120 films... still with Shochiku Company, and still under the nom de plume of Chojiro Hayashi.

One of his last films for Shochiku was the 1935 film Yukinojo Henge, that helped the company earn its highest box office revenues ever at that time.

But all that changed.
Hasegawa Kazuo in 1937 - from Wikipedia.
Leaving Shochiku for Toho Company Ltd. - a move that cost Shochiku plenty of revenue, it is alleged that someone within the company hired a man to attack the actor with a knife - slashing him in the face.

Surviving, the actor renounced his name of Chojiro Hayashi, and reverted to Hasegawa Kazuo.
Kazuo Hasegawa autograph.
He continued to act in films until around 1963 - finishing with 290 movies, but did continue to work on the stage.

Some of those films include:
In 1957, Hasegawa was awarded the Kikuchi Kan Prize (菊池寛賞 Kikuchi Kan Shō), which honors achievement in all aspects of Japanese literary culture.
Kazuo Hasegawa autograph.
According to the souvenir album I was gifted, a Mr. Hugh Healy, a visitor from the U.S. - seconded to Japan with his wife and son for a two-year-period  - had tea with Hasegawa-san and received three hand-signed autographed photos of the famous actor - all of which are presented within this blog.

Hasegawa dies on April 6, 1984, and is interned at the Yanaka Cemetery in Tokyo.

Andrew Joseph


  1. Thank you for this article on this actor whom I appreciate a lot, although I know his filmography only for his period Daiei during the 50s. Bravo for your very interesting blog.