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Yusaku Matsuda

Yūsaku Matsuda
Native name 松田 優作
Born (1949-09-21)September 21, 1949
Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi, Japan
Died November 6, 1989(1989-11-06) (aged 40)
Tokyo, Japan
Occupation Actor
Years active 1972–1989
Spouse(s) Michiko Kumamoto (1975–1981, divorced, 1 child)
Miyuki Kumagai (1983–1989, his death, 3 children)

Yūsaku Matsuda (松田 優作 Matsuda Yūsaku, September 21, 1949 – November 6, 1989) was a Japanese actor. In Japan he was best known for roles in action films and a variety of television series in the 1970s as well as a switch to a wider range of roles in the 1980s. His final film appearance was as the villain Sato in Ridley Scott's Black Rain.

He is considered one of Japan's most important film actors.[1]


  • Career 1
  • Personal life 2
  • Filmography 3
    • Film 3.1
    • Television 3.2
    • Video Games 3.3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


He began acting after graduating from high school, moving through several theatre companies before joining the Bungakuza theatre group at around the same time as Kaori Momoi. His career as a screen actor started in 1973 with a role as a junior police officer in a TV detective drama called Taiyō ni Hoero! He went on to appear in various television series and action films during the seventies. His most remembered role on television was in Tantei Monogatari, in which he starred as an unlikely private detective.[2] In films, he was known for such gun-toting roles as assassin Shōhei Narumi in the Yūgi (Game) series of films, and master criminal Asakura in Resurrection of the Golden Wolf.

In the 1980s, desiring to be seen as more than an action star, he moved from action films to a wider range of dramatic roles.[2] He made a dramatic weight loss to appear in the film The Beast to Die in 1980. The following year he appeared in another action film, Yokohama BJ Blues, which also featured his singing, and the surreal art film Kagerō-za. In 1983, he won the award for best actor at the 8th Hochi Film Award for Detective Story and The Family Game.[3] In 1985 he took the lead role in the award-winning Sorekara. In 1986, he directed A Homansu, after the scheduled director left due to disagreements. This was the only film he directed. During the eighties, he also appeared in many commercials, such as for Gatsby hair products or Triangle shochu. In addition to acting, from the late seventies to the eighties he toured as a singer, releasing several albums of music.[4]

In 1989, although already diagnosed with cancer, he starred as the villain, Sato, in Black Rain. Director Ridley Scott and co-stars Michael Douglas, Andy Garcia, and Kate Capshaw praised his professionalism and performance, despite his suffering. He died shortly afterwards, after making a final appearance in a special television drama with Florence Griffith-Joyner, in which he was supposed to run against her, but was unable to do so because of his illness.[5]

After his death, his image continued to be used in commercials, such as a 2000 campaign for Schick razors using his image from the Tantei Monogatari television series. Books, films, television specials, and other products, such as scale models of his most famous characters,[6] continue to appear long after his death. In 1998, a film called Yomigaeru Yūsaku: Tantei Monogatari Tokubetsu-hen was released, containing two episodes of the Tantei Monogatari television series and some additional material. In 2009, his second wife, Miyuki Matsuda, produced a tribute film, Soul Red, including clips from his films and interviews with actors such as Andy Garcia, as well as his two sons.

Personal life

Matsuda was born out of wedlock in Shimonoseki, to a Japanese father, a probation officer, whom he never met, and a Zainichi Korean mother, Kaneko Matsuda, originally Kim.[4] She was a Korean who had married a Japanese man who died during World War II. After his death, Kaneko became a prostitute to support Yūsaku's half-brothers. Kaneko deliberately wrongly recorded his birth year as 1950 on his birth records.[4]

He grew up and was educated in Shimonoseki, attending Kanda elementary school and Bunyo Junior High School, before entering Shimonoseki Secondary School. In 1967, while at high school, at the urging of his mother, he stayed with his aunt in the city of Seaside in America for one year. He attended Seaside High School. However, extremely unhappy in America, malnourished, unable to speak English, and feeling himself the victim of discrimination, he returned to Japan. Because he was afraid of facing his mother, he went to stay with his older brother in Tokyo.[4] He attended Hōnan High School (豊南高等学校) as a night student and graduated in 1969. After graduating, he entered a theatre company called "Rokugatsu Gekijō" (六月劇場), leaving in November 1969. In 1971 he joined a theatre group "Club Marui", then in 1972 he joined "Bungakuza". He met his future wife Michiko through Club Marui in May 1971. At the time he was working as a barman.[7]

He changed his citizenship from Korean to Japanese while he was starring in Taiyō ni Hoero!, with the help of Michiko, whose father was a member of the Liberal Democratic party who was head of the then-Prime Minister's support office.[4]

In 1975 he was involved in two fracas, first with two journalists, and then with a student who attacked him with a wooden kendo sword because the student thought he was assaulting a woman. The student ended up in a hospital, and Matsuda received a suspended sentence for assault. This caused a major disruption in his career, with film studios and television companies dropping him.[4]

He married Michiko Kumamoto in 1975 and had one daughter. They divorced in 1981 after six years of marriage. In 1983, he married Miyuki Kumagai, whom he had started a relationship with in 1979, when she was 17, when she appeared in the television series Tantei Monogatari.[4] They had three children. Two of the children, Ryuhei and Shota, became actors and daughter Yuki become singer.

In 1988, Matsuda was diagnosed with bladder cancer, before shooting began for Black Rain. Matsuda refused chemotherapy, as he thought it would affect his ability to act in the film.[4] After his death, his first wife, who had experienced him ignoring an ear infection until it required surgery to prevent deafness, wrote that she suspected that he did not actually realize the seriousness of his illness.[4] During the filming, he was urinating blood. By the time shooting finished, in March 1989, his cancer had spread to his spine and lungs, making it inoperable. On October 7, 1989, Matsuda was hospitalized. A month after he was admitted, Matsuda died at 6:45 PM JST on November 6 at the age of 40, at a Tokyo hospital. He was buried in Nishitama cemetery (西多摩霊園) in Akiruno, Tokyo.[8]

The character Aokiji in the manga One Piece is based on Matsuda.



Year Film Role Notes
1973 Ōkami no Monshō Haguro
1974 Tomodachi Komatsu
Ryōma Ansatsu Yūta
Abayo Dachi Kō
1976 The Classroom of Terror
1977 Proof of the Man Detective Kōichirō Munesue
1978 Mottomo Kiken na Yūgi Shōhei Narumi
Satsujin Yūgi
1979 Midare Karakuri
Oretachi ni Haka wa Nai Katsuo Shima
The Resurrection of the Golden Wolf Tetsuya Asakura
Shokei Yūgi Shōhei Narumi
1980 Rape Hunter Nerawareta Onna
Bara no Hyōteki Hotel guest
The Beast to Die Kunihiko Date
1981 Yokohama BJ Blues BJ
Kagerō-za Shungo Matsuzaki
1983 The Family Game Katsu Yoshimoto
Detective Story Shūichi Tsujiyama
1985 Sorekara Daisuke Nagai
1986 A Homansu Kaze
1988 Wuthering Heights Onimaru
A Chaos of Flowers Takeo Arishima
1989 Black Rain Sato
1998 Yomigaeru Yūsaku: Tantei Monogatari Tokubetsu-hen Shunsaku Kudō
2009 Soul Red Documentary


Year Program Role Notes
1973 Taiyō ni Hoero! Jun Shibata, nicknamed "Jiipan"
1974 Akai Meiro Jun, Momoe's uncle
1975 Oretachi no Kunshō
1976 Daitokai (Guest)
Saraba Rōnin (Guest)
1977–1978 Daitokai Part II Isao Tokuyoshi
1978 Daitsuiseki (Guest, final episode)
1979–1980 Tantei Monogatari Shunsaku Kudō
1982 Haru ga Kita
Shi no Dangai
Shin-Jiken Dr Stop
Home Sweet Home (Guest)
1982–1983 Anchan (Guest)
1983 Nettai ya
1984 Shin-Yumechiyo Nikki
Onna Goroshi Abura no Jigoku
1986 Ou Otoko
1988 Sakurako wa Warau
1989 Kareinaru Tsuiseki With Florence Griffith-Joyner

Video Games

Year Film Role Notes
2002 Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny Jūbei Yagyū Matsuda's likeness was used for that of the lead character.


  1. ^  
  2. ^ a b Tom Mes (8 April 2004). "Yusaku Matsuda: Lost Rebel". Retrieved 11 February 2012. 
  3. ^ 報知映画賞ヒストリー (in Japanese). Cinema Hochi. Retrieved 2010-01-24. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Matsuda, Michiko (2008). Ekkyōsha-Matsuda Yūsaku [Border-transgressor Yusaku Matsuda] (in Japanese). Shinchosha.  
  5. ^ "Yusaku Matsuda, 39, Japanese Movie Actor". New York Times. 9 November 1989. Retrieved 10 November 2010. 
  6. ^ Master Joker, 松田優作フィギュアの館 
  7. ^ Matsuda, Mami (pen name of Michiko Matsuda) (31 October 1991). Eien no Chōhatsu: Matsuda Yūsaku to no Nijūichi Nen [Endless Provocation: My Twenty-One Years with Yūsaku Matsuda] (in Japanese). Rimu Shuppan.  
  8. ^ 世界恩人巡礼大写真館 (in Japanese). Retrieved 10 November 2010. 

External links

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