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Erik Visits an (Non) American Grave, Part 1,241

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This is the grave of Daisuke Katō.

Born in 1911 in Tokyo, Tokunosuke Katō grew up in a family of actors. He had two older siblings who also had significant acting careers. He was in a ton of stuff, the vast majority of which I don’t know. He had a very small role in the 1941 adaptation of The 47 Ronin that Kenji Mizoguchi directed. I think the first film of his I’ve seen is his role as the cop in Rashomon. He had a decent size role in Mizoguchi’s 1952 film The Life of Oharu, a total classic. He had a small role the same year in Kurosawa’s Ikiru as a yakuza.

So yeah, Katō was a character actor. But that character actor could appear in great movies that had large casts and that brings us to how we really know him today–his role in Kurosawa’s classic The Seven Samurai, which has a legitimate argument for the best film ever made (it’d be top 10 in any list I would ever make). He played one of the samurai–the one Takashi Shimura recruits because he was a loyal man that had worked with him forever. What that meant is that Katō was really the third biggest role in the film, behind Shimura and Mifune. He was great in that role, the ultimate survivor who lives to fight another day, though he had no idea why or how he does manage to live. Great role. This is why I sought out his grave, just to pay my respects to anyone in that fine, fine film.

Katō continued to appear in other movies you’ve seen. He had a relatively small role in Inagaki’s 1954 film Mushashi Miyamoto, the first of his samurai trilogy and then appeared in the other two films as well. He’s in Ozu’s Early Spring, from 1956. He’s the head of the Brothel Owners Association in Mizoguchi’s 1956 classic about prostitution, Street of Shame. He had a small role in Yojimbo too and a somewhat larger one in Inagaki’s Chushingura. He appeared in Ozu’s last film from 1962, An Autumn Afternoon.

I think that’s the last film I’ve seen that featured Katō. But there are a lot and I might be forgetting some. He worked up through 1974 and had well over 100 films to his name. I love the character actor generally, whether the American or wherever else. Very much including the great Daisuke Katō.

Katō died in 1975 at the age of 64.

Daiskue Katō is buried in Shunjen Cemetery, Kawasaki-shi, Kanagawa, Japan.

Katō was not to my knowledge in any American movies, but if you would like this series to visit some classic American character actors, you can donate to cover the required expenses here. Charles Napier is in Arvin, California and Charles Durning is in Arlington. Previous posts in this series are archived here.

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