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The Intarwebz failz me.
So I'm reading the Japanese actress Sadako Sawamura's memoir of growing up in Taisho and early Showa Tokyo, My Asakusa. It's a collection of loosely-interwoven vignettes, and the Japanese narrative habit of leaving out connective tissue is very much in evidence. In one of the first few sections, Sawamura talks about her background: she comes from a family of Kabuki actors, and had an older brother good enough to be given the Sawamura name (i.e., the famous Sawamura line of actors "adopted" him as part of their acting tradition). Eventually, when sister Teiko grew up and became a stage and film actress in her own right, she too took the name Sawamura, with the more formal first name Sadako.

But there was also a younger brother, whom Sawamura almost always calls by his childhood name within the family, Tokunosuke. Tokunosuke was a success as a child actor in Kabuki, but as he grew up he developed into a chubby, round-faced, dark-complexioned young man who didn't fit the Kabuki aesthetic--so, like his sister, Tokunosuke turned to film.

Bear with me: the TMI is coming to an end, honest.

In passing, and as if it's such a well-known factoid that it doesn't require explanation, Sadako Sawamura mentions that little brother Tokunosuke took the professional name Daisuke Kato.

That's the point at which my mental sonar started pinging frantically. Daisuke Kato, as in Daisuke Kato? Shichiroji in Seven Samurai? Kichiemon in Chushingura? Sekine in When a Woman Ascends the Stairs? This Daisuke Kato?

Because I have a deeply trivial mind, this fascinates me--not least because, while I was trying to track down the relationship online, I discovered that Sawamura and Kato acted in a lot of movies together. But, of all the things the English translation of My Asakusa footnotes, Sawamura's family members aren't among them. GAH. And the Internet is made entirely of fail where this subject is concerned (at least in English; my Japanese reading skills are so nearly nonexistent that there's no point in even trying to do that search). I think little brother Tokunosuke has to be the Daisuke Kato, and that's supported by the fact that IMDB cites Kato's birthplace as Asakusa. The dates are right; Kato was born in 1910, and Sadako Sawamura was born in 1908. So I think I'm right, but I don't like thinking I'm right when the information to prove it ought to be findable.

So much for the Intarwebz as the Source of All Information. (Yes, yes, I know: the Internet's inadequacies as a research tool aren't news to me. But this is information about the movies, kids! The Internet is supposed to know EVERYTHING about the movies!)


By the way, I'm pretty much convinced, after reading the translator's introduction, that Sawamura's life was one of the sources for the wonderful anime film Millennium Actress. And possibly for part of the life of Kurosawa's heroine in No Regrets for Our Youth, though that's a weaker connection.

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I bet if you could find a Japanese film historian on-line, they would probably be able to find the answers for you or direct you to the right place.

That sounds like a very interesting book, one I will have to see about reading.

Hey, I had an idea. Do you have a good online resource in Japanese that you want run down to try to solve this? You could, of course, ask your conversation buddy, but I have Maasaki here ... and either he or his wife Miki would look into it for you. Or I could just copy this out, send it to Maasaki and see what he comes up with. Yes?

Alright ... I'm going to sit down and watch Seven Samurai again. You've got me itching.

I really enjoyed this bit of information about Japanese film and actors. It was fascinating. Don't have any other words to offer though because it's late and I'm a tad sleepy . . . but thank you for the insights!! :)

Whoa. That book sounds really fascinating, though the connection you've got here is definitely a big part of the intrigue.

And you just convinced me that it is in fact time to watch Seven Samurai for the month. (I will admit that's partly because of the Mifune♥)

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