Now is the time to look back at the appeal of legendary actor Shintaro Katsu

There were many actors in the past in Japan who no longer exist today, but who possessed great charm and destructive power.

One of them is Shintaro Katsu, who I will introduce here.

Do you know of the famous movie “Zatoichi”? It is a drama about a blind masseuse who travels all over Japan to rid it of evil. You may know it as it has been broadcasted in foreign countries as well.

Let’s take a look at the legend of Shintaro Katsu.

He won’t wear pants anymore?
In 1990, Katsu was arrested at Honolulu Airport in Hawaii for possession of cocaine and marijuana. He had hidden the drugs in his pants, but it was his remarks at a press conference after that attracted attention:

 ”I won’t wear pants anymore to avoid similar incidents.”

Did he give up smoking?
In 1996, Katsu, who had been a smoker, was diagnosed with throat cancer. At a press conference, while smoking a cigarette, he said he had quit smoking to receive cancer treatment.

A dynamic way of drinking
He would take the entire film crew out for a drink, and he would pay for everything. If they decided to move on to a second place to drink, he would take all the people from the first place with him. There were times when there were more than 100 people, and Katsu paid for all of them.

It is said that the cost of drinks for one year exceeded 100 million yen. In today’s prices, that would be about 500 million yen.

Let them learn the real expression
Masaru and his students from the acting school he presided over head for a high-class restaurant. The highest-grade beef is brought in, and after taking a bite, Masaru suddenly cries out,

 ”When did this restaurant start serving this stuff!!!!”

The startled staff rushed out and the head chef came over to apologize. The goal was to have the students learn “the true expression of surprise on a person’s face.”

Masaru apologized to the chef and told him, “It’s okay, it’s okay,” and gave him a congratulatory gift bag containing a large sum of money.

There are many other incredible stories, such as paying for an actor he happened to meet who was drinking with a staff of about 30 people he knew, or being so impressed by a magician that he handed over a tip of 500,000 yen on the spot.

Dramas from the samurai period in which he was active are called jidaigeki (period dramas), but they were not produced very often from around the turn of the millennium, and times were tough.

Even so, Masaru did not stop living a life of great ambition. Ultimately, his company went bankrupt with a debt of 1.2 billion yen, and his remaining wife struggled to repay the debt.


For better or worse, he lived an exciting life.

Don’t you think it’s sad that such a legendary person is no longer in Japan today?


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