Toshiro Mifune

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Toshiro Mifune
Toshiro Mifune 1954 Scan10003 160913.jpg
Mifune in 1954
Born(1920-04-01)April 1, 1920
DiedDecember 24, 1997(1997-12-24) (aged 77)
Resting place Kawasaki, Kanagawa, Japan
Years active1947–1995
Sachiko Yoshimine
(m. 1950;died 1995)
PartnerMika Kitagawa
Military career
AllegianceMerchant flag of Japan (1870).svg  Empire of Japan
Service/branch War flag of the Imperial Japanese Army (1868-1945).svg Imperial Japanese Army Air Service
Years of service1940–1945
Rank Di Guo Lu Jun noJie Ji --Jin Zhang --Jun Cao .svg Sergeant
Unit Aerial Photography
Battles/wars World War II
Japanese name
Kanji 三船 敏郎
Hiragana みふね としろう
Katakana ミフネ トシロウ
Toshiro Mifune Signature.svg

Toshiro Mifune (三船 敏郎, Mifune Toshirō, April 1, 1920 – December 24, 1997) was a Japanese actor who appeared in over 150 feature films. He is best known for his 16-film collaboration (1948–1965) with Akira Kurosawa in such works as Rashomon , Seven Samurai , The Hidden Fortress , Throne of Blood , and Yojimbo . He also portrayed Miyamoto Musashi in Hiroshi Inagaki's Samurai Trilogy and one earlier Inagaki film, Lord Toranaga in the NBC television miniseries Shōgun , and Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto in three different films. [1]


Early life

Mifune in 1939 Mifune-Toshiro-3.jpg
Mifune in 1939

Toshiro Mifune was born on April 1, 1920 in Seitō, Japanese-occupied Shandong (present-day Qingdao, China), the eldest son of Tokuzo and Sen Mifune. [2] His father Tokuzo was a trade merchant and photographer who ran a photography business in Qingdao and Yingkou, and was originally the son of a medical doctor from Kawauchi, Akita Prefecture. [3] His mother Sen was the daughter of a hatamoto , a high-ranking samurai official. [2] Toshiro's parents, who were working as Methodist missionaries, were some of the Japanese citizens encouraged to live in Shandong by the Japanese government during its occupation before the Republic of China took over the city in 1922. [4] [5] Mifune grew up with his parents and two younger siblings in Dalian, Fengtian from the age of 4 to 19. [6]

In his youth, Mifune worked at his father's photo studio. After spending the first 19 years of his life in China, as a Japanese citizen, he was drafted into the Imperial Japanese Army Aviation division, where he served in the Aerial Photography unit during World War II. [7]

Early work

In 1947, a large number of Toho actors, after a prolonged strike, had left to form their own company, Shin Toho. Toho then organized a "new faces" contest to find new talent.

Nenji Oyama, a friend of Mifune's who worked for the Photography Department of Toho Productions, sent Mifune's resume to the New Faces audition as the Photography Department was full, telling Mifune he could later transfer to the Photography Department if he wished. [8] He was accepted, along with 48 others (out of roughly 4,000 applicants), and allowed to take a screen test for Kajirō Yamamoto. Instructed to mime anger, he drew from his wartime experiences. Yamamoto took a liking to Mifune, recommending him to director Senkichi Taniguchi. This led to Mifune's first feature role, in Shin Baka Jidai.

Mifune first encountered director Akira Kurosawa when Toho Studios, the largest film production company in Japan, was conducting a massive talent search, during which hundreds of aspiring actors auditioned before a team of judges. Kurosawa was originally going to skip the event, but showed up when Hideko Takamine told him of one actor who seemed especially promising. Kurosawa later wrote that he entered the audition to see "a young man reeling around the room in a violent frenzy ... it was as frightening as watching a wounded beast trying to break loose. I was transfixed." When Mifune, exhausted, finished his scene, he sat down and gave the judges an ominous stare. He lost the competition but Kurosawa was impressed. "I am a person rarely impressed by actors," he later said. "But in the case of Mifune I was completely overwhelmed." [9] Mifune immersed himself into the six-month training and diligently applied himself to studying acting, although at first he still hoped to be transferred to the camera department. [10]


Among Mifune's fellow performers, one of the 32 women chosen during the new faces contest was Sachiko Yoshimine. Eight years Mifune's junior, she came from a respected Tokyo family. They fell in love and Mifune soon proposed marriage.

Director Senkichi Taniguchi, with the help of Akira Kurosawa, convinced the Yoshimine family to allow the marriage. The wedding took place in February 1950 at the Aoyama Gakuin Methodist Church. [11] [ unreliable source? ] Yoshimine was a Buddhist but since Mifune was a Christian, they were married in church as per Christian tradition. [12]

In November of the same year, their first son, Shirō was born. In 1955, they had a second son, Takeshi. Mifune's daughter Mika  [ ja ] was born to his mistress, actress Mika Kitagawa, in 1982. [13]

Period of prosperity

Mifune in Seven Samurai (1954) Toshiro Mifune in Seven Samurai (1954).jpg
Mifune in Seven Samurai (1954)

His imposing bearing, acting range, facility with foreign languages and lengthy partnership with acclaimed director Akira Kurosawa made him the most famous Japanese actor of his time, and easily the best known to Western audiences. He often portrayed samurai or rōnin who were usually coarse and gruff (Kurosawa once explained that the only weakness he could find with Mifune and his acting ability was his "rough" voice), inverting the popular stereotype of the genteel, clean-cut samurai. In such films as Seven Samurai and Yojimbo , he played characters who were often comically lacking in manners, but replete with practical wisdom and experience, understated nobility, and, in the case of Yojimbo, unmatched fighting prowess. Sanjuro in particular contrasts this earthy warrior spirit with the useless, sheltered propriety of the court samurai. Kurosawa valued Mifune highly for his effortless portrayal of unvarnished emotion, once commenting that he could convey in only three feet of film an emotion for which the average Japanese actor would require ten feet. [14]

From left to right: Antonio Aguilar, Toshiro Mifune, and Flor Silvestre in Animas Trujano (1964) Still cinematografico de Animas Trujano.jpg
From left to right: Antonio Aguilar, Toshiro Mifune, and Flor Silvestre in Animas Trujano (1964)

He was also known for the effort he put into his performances. To prepare for Seven Samurai and Rashomon , Mifune reportedly studied footage of lions in the wild. For the Mexican film Ánimas Trujano , he studied tapes of Mexican actors speaking so that he could recite all of his lines in Spanish. Many Mexicans believed that Toshiro Mifune could have passed for a native of Oaxaca due to his critically acclaimed performance. When asked why he chose Mexico to do his next film, Mifune quoted, “Simply because, first of all, Mr. Ismael Rodríguez convinced me; secondly, because I was eager to work in beautiful Mexico, of great tradition; and thirdly, because the story and character of 'Animas Trujano' seemed very human to me”. The film was nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Oscar. Interestingly, Mifune gave a Japanese pistol as a gift to then-Mexican president Adolfo López Mateos when they met in Oaxaca. [15]

Mifune has been credited as originating the "roving warrior" archetype, which he perfected during his collaboration with Kurosawa. His martial arts instructor was Yoshio Sugino of the Tenshin Shōden Katori Shintō-ryū. Sugino created the fight choreography for films such as Seven Samurai and Yojimbo , and Kurosawa instructed his actors to emulate his movements and bearing.

Mifune in Hell in the Pacific (1968) Toshiro Mifune wearing bandana.jpg
Mifune in Hell in the Pacific (1968)

Clint Eastwood was among the first of many actors to adopt this wandering ronin with no name persona for foreign films, which he used to great effect in his Western roles, especially in Spaghetti Westerns directed by Sergio Leone where he played the Man with No Name, a character similar to Mifune's seemingly-nameless ronin in Yojimbo.

Mifune may also be credited with originating the Yakuza archetype, with his performance as a mobster in Kurosawa's Drunken Angel (1948), the first Yakuza film.[ citation needed ] Most of the sixteen Kurosawa–Mifune films are considered cinema classics. These include Drunken Angel, Stray Dog , Rashomon, Seven Samurai, The Hidden Fortress, High and Low , Throne of Blood (an adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth ), Yojimbo, and Sanjuro.

Mifune and Kurosawa finally parted ways after Red Beard . Several factors contributed to the rift that ended this career-spanning collaboration. Mifune had a passion for film in his own right and had long wanted to set up a production company, working towards going freelance. Kurosawa and Taniguchi advised against it out of concern they would not be able to cast Mifune as freely. [16] Most of Mifune's contemporaries acted in several different movies in this period. Since Red Beard required Mifune to grow a natural beard — one he had to keep for the entirety of the film's two years of shooting — he was unable to act in any other films during the production. This put Mifune and his financially strapped production company deeply into debt, creating friction between him and Kurosawa. Although Red Beard played to packed houses in Japan and Europe, which helped Mifune recoup some of his losses, the ensuing years held varying outcomes for both Mifune and Kurosawa. After the film's release, the careers of each man took different arcs: Mifune continued to enjoy success with a range of samurai and war-themed films (Rebellion, Samurai Assassin, The Emperor and a General, among others). In contrast, Kurosawa's output of films dwindled and drew mixed responses. During this time, Kurosawa attempted suicide. In 1980, Mifune experienced popularity with mainstream American audiences through his role as Lord Toranaga in the television miniseries Shogun . Yet Kurosawa did not rejoice in his estranged friend's success, and publicly made derisive remarks about Shogun. [17] In contrast, Mifune spoke respectfully of Kurosawa and loyally attended the premiere of Kagemusha. [18]

Mifune turned down an opportunity from United Artists to play the Japanese spy chief Tiger Tanaka in the James Bond film You Only Live Twice (1967). [19] According to his daughter, he also turned down an offer from George Lucas to play either Darth Vader or Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars (1977). [20]

Mifune himself was always professional, memorizing all of his lines and not carrying scripts on set. [21] He was unusually humble for an international star, and was known for treating his costars and crew very generously, throwing lavish catered parties for them and paying for their families to go to onsen resorts. [22] [23]

Later life and death

In 1979, Mifune joined the ensemble cast of the Steven Spielberg war comedy 1941 as the commander of a lost Imperial Japanese Navy submarine searching for Hollywood shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack. Mifune received wide acclaim in the West after playing Toranaga in the 1980 TV miniseries Shogun . However, the series' blunt portrayal of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the greatly abridged version shown in Japan meant that it was not as well-received in his homeland.[ citation needed ]

The relationship between Kurosawa and Mifune remained ambivalent. Kurosawa criticized Mifune's acting in Interview magazine and also said that "All the films that I made with Mifune, without him, they would not exist".[ citation needed ] He also presented Mifune with the Kawashita award which he himself had won two years prior. They frequently encountered each other professionally and met again in 1993 at the funeral of their friend Ishirō Honda, but never collaborated again. [24] [25]

The Mifune family tomb in Kawasaki, Kanagawa San Chuan Min Lang noMu Shen Nai Chuan Xian Chuan Qi Shi Chun Qiu Yuan .JPG
The Mifune family tomb in Kawasaki, Kanagawa

In 1992, Mifune began suffering from a serious unknown health problem. It has been variously suggested that he destroyed his health with overwork, suffered a heart attack, or experienced a stroke. He retreated from public life and remained largely confined to his home, cared for by his estranged wife Sachiko. When she died from pancreatic cancer in 1995, Mifune's physical and mental state declined rapidly.[ citation needed ]

On December 24, 1997, he died in Mitaka, Tokyo, of multiple organ failure at the age of 77.


Mifune won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor twice, in 1961 and 1965. Mifune was awarded the Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon in 1986 [26] and the Order of the Sacred Treasure by the Japanese government in 1993. [27] In 1973 he was a member of the jury at the 8th Moscow International Film Festival. [28] In 1977 he was a member of the jury at the 10th Moscow International Film Festival. [29]

On November 14, 2016, Mifune received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work in the motion pictures industry, located at 6912 Hollywood Boulevard. [30] [31]

Personal quotations

Of Akira Kurosawa, Toshiro Mifune said, "I have never as an actor done anything that I am proud of other than with him". [32]

Mifune had a kind of talent I had never encountered before in the Japanese film world. It was, above all, the speed with which he expressed himself that was astounding. The ordinary Japanese actor might need ten feet of film to get across an impression; Mifune needed only three. The speed of his movements was such that he said in a single action what took ordinary actors three separate movements to express. He put forth everything directly and boldly, and his sense of timing was the keenest I had ever seen in a Japanese actor. And yet with all his quickness, he also had surprisingly fine sensibilities.

Akira Kurosawa, Something Like an Autobiography [33]

"Since I came into the industry very inexperienced, I don't have any theory of acting. I just had to play my roles my way." [34]

"Generally speaking, most East–West stories have been a series of cliches. I, for one, have no desire to retell Madame Butterfly ." [35]

"An actor is not a puppet with strings pulled by the director. He is a human being with seeds of all emotions, desires, and needs within himself. I attempt to find the very center of this humanity and explore and experiment." [35]


In 2015, Steven Okazaki released Mifune: The Last Samurai , a documentary chronicling Mifune's life and career. [36] [37] Due to variations in translation from the Japanese and other factors, there are multiple titles to many of Mifune's films (see IMDB link). The titles shown here are the most common ones used in the United States, with the original Japanese title listed below it in parentheses. Mifune's filmography mainly consists of Japanese productions, unless noted otherwise (see Notes column).


1947 Snow Trail
Senkichi Taniguchi
These Foolish Times
(新馬鹿時代 前篇)
Kajirō Yamamoto
Genzaburō Ōno
These Foolish Times Part 2
(新馬鹿時代 後篇)
Kajirō Yamamoto
Genzaburō Ōno
1948 Drunken Angel
Akira Kurosawa
1949 The Quiet Duel
Akira Kurosawa
Kyōji Fujisaki
Jakoman and Tetsu
Senkichi Taniguchi
Stray Dog
Akira Kurosawa
Detective Murakami
1950Conduct Report on Professor Ishinaka
Mikio Naruse
Teisaku Nagasawa
Akira Kurosawa
Ichirō Aoe
Engagement Ring
Keisuke Kinoshita
Takeshi Ema
Akira Kurosawa
Escape from Prison
Kajirō Yamamoto
1951Beyond Love and Hate
Senkichi Taniguchi
Gorō Sakata
Kajirō Yamamoto
Prosecutor Daisuke Toki
The Idiot
Akira Kurosawa
Denkichi Akama
Hiroshi Inagaki
Meeting of the Ghost Après-Guerre
Kiyoshi Saeki
Kenji Kawakami
Special appearance
Conclusion of Kojiro Sasaki:
Duel at Ganryu Island

(完結 佐々木小次郎 巌流島決闘)
Hiroshi Inagaki
Musashi Miyamoto
The Life of a Horsetrader
Keigo Kimura
Yonetarō Katayama
Who Knows a Woman's Heart
Kajirō Yamamoto
1952 Vendetta for a Samurai
(荒木又右衛門 決闘鍵屋の辻)
Kazuo Mori
Mataemon Araki
Senkichi Taniguchi
The Life of Oharu
Kenji Mizoguchi
Golden Girl
Yasuki Chiba
Supporting role
Sword for Hire
Hiroshi Inagaki
Hayatenosuke Sasa
Tokyo Sweetheart
Yasuki Chiba
Swift Current
Senkichi Taniguchi
Shunsuke Kosugi
The Man Who Came to Port
Ishirō Honda
Gorō Niinuma
1953My Wonderful Yellow Car
Senkichi Taniguchi
The Last Embrace
Masahiro Makino
(伸吉 / 早川)
Sunflower Girl
Yasuki Chiba
Ippei Hitachi
Originally released overseas as Love in a Teacup [38]
Eagle of the Pacific
Ishirō Honda
1st Lieutenant Jōichi Tomonaga
1954 Seven Samurai
Akira Kurosawa
The Sound of Waves
Senkichi Taniguchi
Skipper of the Utashima-maru
Samurai I : Musashi Miyamoto
Hiroshi Inagaki
Musashi Miyamoto (Takezō Shinmen)
(宮本武蔵 (新免武蔵))
The Black Fury
Toshio Sugie
Eiichi Tsuda
1955The Merciless Boss: A Man Among Men
(顔役無用 男性No.1)
Kajirō Yamamoto
"Buick" Maki
All Is Well
Toshio Sugie
Daikichi Risshun
All Is Well Part 2
Toshio Sugie
Daikichi Risshun
No Time for Tears
Seiji Maruyama
Mitsuo Yano
Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple
(続宮本武蔵 一乗寺の決斗)
Hiroshi Inagaki
Musashi Miyamoto
I Live in Fear
Akira Kurosawa
Kiichi Nakajima
1956 Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island
(宮本武蔵 完結篇 決闘巌流島)
Hiroshi Inagaki
Musashi Miyamoto
Rainy Night Duel
Senkichi Taniguchi
Masahiko Koseki
The Underworld
Kajirō Yamamoto
Chief Inspector Kumada
Settlement of Love
Shin Saburi
Shuntarō Ōhira
A Wife's Heart
Mikio Naruse
Kenkichi Takemura
Nobuo Aoyagi
Rebels on the High Seas
Hiroshi Inagaki
Tokuzō Matsuo
1957 Throne of Blood
Akira Kurosawa
Taketoki Washizu
A Man in the Storm
Senkichi Taniguchi
Saburō Watari
Be Happy, These Two Lovers
Ishirō Honda
Toshio Maruyama
Yagyu Secret Scrolls Part 1
Hiroshi Inagaki
Tasaburō Kasumi
A Dangerous Hero
Hideo Suzuki
Athlete Kawada
The Lower Depths
Akira Kurosawa
Sutekichi (the thief)
(捨吉 (泥棒))
Yasuki Chiba
Yoshio Tsuruishi
1958 Yagyu Secret Scrolls Part 2
(柳生武芸帳 双龍秘剣)
Hiroshi Inagaki
Tasaburō Ōtsuki
Holiday in Tokyo
Kajirō Yamamoto
Tenkai's nephew Jirō
Muhomatsu, The Rikshaw Man
Hiroshi Inagaki
Matsugorō Tomishima
Yaji and Kita on the Road
Yasuki Chiba
Toshinoshin Taya
All About Marriage
Kihachi Okamoto
Acting teacher
Theater of Life
(人生劇場 青春篇)
Toshio Sugie
The Hidden Fortress
Akira Kurosawa
General Rokurota Makabe
1959Boss of the Underworld
Kihachi Okamoto
Daisuke Kashimura
Samurai Saga
Hiroshi Inagaki
Heihachirō Komaki
The Saga of the Vagabonds
Toshio Sugie
Rokurō Kai
Desperado Outpost
Kihachi Okamoto
Battalion Commander Kodama
The Three Treasures
Hiroshi Inagaki
Prince Takeru Yamato/Prince Susano'o
1960The Last Gunfight
Kihachi Okamoto
Detective Saburō Fujioka
The Gambling Samurai
Senkichi Taniguchi
Chūji Kunisada
Storm Over the Pacific
(ハワイ·ミッドウェイ大海空戦 太平洋の嵐)
Shūe Matsubayashi
Tamon Yamaguchi
Man Against Man
Senkichi Taniguchi
The Bad Sleep Well
Akira Kurosawa
Kōichi Nishi
Salaryman Chushingura Part 1
Toshio Sugie
Kazuo Momoi
1961 The Story of Osaka Castle
Hiroshi Inagaki
Mohei [39]
Salaryman Chushingura Part 2
Toshio Sugie
Kazuo Momoi
Akira Kurosawa
Sanjūrō Kuwabata
The Youth and his Amulet
Hiroshi Inagaki
Fudō Myō-ō
Ánimas Trujano Ismael Rodríguez Ánimas TrujanoMexican production
1962 Sanjuro
Akira Kurosawa
Sanjūrō Tsubaki
Hiroshi Inagaki
Three Gentlemen Return from Hong Kong
Toshio Sugie
Cho Chishō (Zhang Zhizhang)
(張知章 (カメオ出演))
Chushingura: Story of Flower, Story of Snow
(忠臣蔵 花の巻·雪の巻)
Hiroshi Inagaki
Genba Tawaraboshi
1963 Attack Squadron!
Shūe Matsubayashi
Lt. Colonel Senda
High and Low
Akira Kurosawa
Kingo Gondō
Legacy of the 500,000
Toshirō Mifune
Takeichi Matsuo
(松尾武市 兼 製作 兼 監督)
Also Director, Producer
The Lost World of Sinbad
Senkichi Taniguchi
Sukezaemon Naya (Sukezaemon Luzon)
(菜屋助左衛門 (呂宋助左衛門))
1964 Whirlwind
(士魂魔道 大龍巻)
Hiroshi Inagaki
Morishige Akashi
1965 Samurai Assassin
Kihachi Okamoto
Tsuruchiyo Niiro
Red Beard
Akira Kurosawa
Dr. Kyojō Niide (Red Beard)
(新出去定医師 (赤ひげ))
Sanshiro Sugata
Seiichirō Uchikawa
Shōgorō Yano
The Retreat from Kiska
(太平洋奇跡の作戦 キスカ)
Seiji Maruyama
Major General Omura
Fort Graveyard
Kihachi Okamoto
Sergeant Kosugi
1966Rise Against the Sword
Hiroshi Inagaki
Shinobu no Gōemon
The Sword of Doom
Kihachi Okamoto
Toranosuke Shimada [40]
The Adventure of Kigan Castle
Senkichi Taniguchi
The Mad Atlantic
Jun Fukuda
Heihachirō Murakami
Grand Prix John Frankenheimer Izō Yamura
U.S. production
1967 Samurai Rebellion
(上意討ち 拝領妻始末)
Masaki Kobayashi
Isaburō Sasahara
Japan's Longest Day
Kihachi Okamoto
Korechika Anami
1968 The Sands of Kurobe
Kei Kumai
Satoshi Kitagawa
Admiral Yamamoto
(連合艦隊司令長官 山本五十六)
Seiji Maruyama
Isoroku Yamamoto
The Day the Sun Rose
Tetsuya Yamanouchi
Hell in the Pacific John Boorman Captain Tsuruhiko Kuroda
U.S. production
1969 Samurai Banners
Hiroshi Inagaki
Kansuke Yamamoto
Safari 5000
Koreyoshi Kurahara
Yūichirō Takase
The Battle of the Japan Sea
Seiji Maruyama
Heihachirō Tōgō
Red Lion
Kihachi Okamoto
Akage no Gonzō
(赤毛の権三 兼 製作)
Tadashi Sawashima
Isami Kondō
(近藤勇 兼 製作)
1970 Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo
Kihachi Okamoto
Daisaku Sasa
Daisuke Itō
Shōjirō Gotō
Incident at Blood Pass
Hiroshi Inagaki
Tōzaburō Shinogi and Producer
(鎬刀三郎 兼 製作)
The Walking Major
Keith Eric Burt Tadao Kinugasa
The Militarists
(激動の昭和史 軍閥)
Hiromichi Horikawa
Isoroku Yamamoto
1971 Red Sun Terence Young Jūbei Kuroda
French. Italian, and Spanish co-production
1975 Paper Tiger Ken Annakin Ambassador Kagoyama
U.K. production
The New Spartans Jack Starrett WW2 vetU.K., West German co-production
1976 Midway Jack Smight Isoroku Yamamoto
U.S. production
1977 Proof of the Man
Junya Satō
Yōhei Kōri
Special appearance
Japanese Godfather: Ambition
(日本の首領 野望篇)
Sadao Nakajima
Kōsuke Ōishi
1978 Shogun's Samurai
Kinji Fukasaku
Yoshinao Tokugawa
Sadao Nakajima
Captain Takeo Murata
Kei Kumai
Hideyoshi Toyotomi
The Fall of Ako Castle
Kinji Fukasaku
Chikara Tsuchiya
Japanese Godfather: Conclusion
(日本の首領 完結篇)
Sadao Nakajima
Kōsuke Ōishi
Lord Incognito
Tetsuya Yamanouchi
Sakuzaemon Okumura
1979 Winter Kills William Richert Keith (secretary)
(キース (秘書))
U.S. production
The Adventures of Kosuke Kindaichi
Nobuhiko Ōbayashi
Kōsuke Kindaichi XI
Onmitsu Doshin: The Edo Secret Police
Akinori Matsuo
Sadanobu Matsudaira
1941 Steven Spielberg Commander Akiro Mitamura
U.S. production
1980 The Battle of Port Arthur
Toshio Masuda
Emperor Meiji
Jerry London Toranaga Yoshii
U.S., Japanese co-production
1981 Inchon! Terence YoungSaitō-san
U.S. production
The Bushido Blade Tom Kotani
Commander Fukusai Hayashi
U.S., U.K., Japanese co-production
1982 The Challenge John FrankenheimerToru Yoshida
U.S. production
Sadao Nakajima
Masao Tadokoro
1983Battle Anthem
(日本海大海戦 海ゆかば)
Toshio Masuda
Heihachirō Tōgō
Theater of Life
Kinji Fukasaku (深作欣二)
Junya Satō (佐藤純彌)
Sadao Nakajima (中島貞夫)
Hyōtarō Aonari
Special appearance
1984 The Miracle of Joe Petrel
Toshiya Fujita
1985Legend of the Holy Woman
Tōru Murakawa
Kōzō Kanzaki
Special appearance
1986Song of the Genkai Sea
Masanobu Deme
Kyūbei Matsufuji
1987 Shatterer Tonino Valerii Murai
Italian, Japanese co-production
Tora-san Goes North
(男はつらいよ 知床慕情)
Yōji Yamada
Junkichi Ueno
Princess from the Moon
Kon Ichikawa
1989 Death of a Tea Master
(千利休 本覺坊遺文)
Kei Kumai
Sen no Rikyū
The Demon Comes in Spring
Akira Kobayashi
Kukkune no jî
CF Girl
Izō Hashimoto
Shūichirō Hase
1991Strawberry Road
Koreyoshi Kurahara
Journey of Honor
Gordon Hessler Ieyasu Tokugawa
U.S., U.K., Japanese co-production
1992 Shadow of the Wolf
Jacques Dorfmann,
Pierre Magny
KroomakCanadian, French co-production
1994 Picture Bride Kayo Hatta The Benshi
U.S. production
1995 Deep River
Kei Kumai
Final film role

The 1999 Danish film Mifune is named after the actor.


All programs originally aired in Japan except for Shōgun which aired in the U.S. on NBC in September 1980 before being subsequently broadcast in Japan on TV Asahi from March 30 to April 6, 1981.

1967.05.11He of the Sun
Himself1 episode
1968–1969Five Freelance Samurai
Jirō Yoshikage Funayama
6 episodes
[Ep. 1,2,14,15,17,26]
1971 Daichūshingura
Kuranosuke Ōishi
All 52 episodes
1972–1974 Ronin of the Wilderness
Kujūrō Tōge
All 104 episodes, over two seasons
1973Yojimbo of the Wilderness
Kujūrō Tōge
5 episodes
1975The Sword, the Wind, and the Lullaby
Jūzaburō Toride
All 27 episodes
1976The Secret Inspectors
Naizen-no-shō Tsukumo/Izu-no-kami Nobuakira Matsudaira (dual roles)
(九十九内膳正 / 松平伊豆守信明 (二役)
10 episodes
[Ep. 1,2,3,4,7,10,11,18,22,26]
1976Ronin in a Lawless Town
(人魚亭異聞 無法街の素浪人)
Mister Danna
All 23 episodes
1977.07.16 Ōedo Sōsamō
Yūgen Ōtaki
1 episode
1978Falcons of Edo
(江戸の鷹 御用部屋犯科帖)
Kanbei Uchiyama
All 38 episodes
1979.04.02 Edo o Kiru IV
Shūsaku Chiba
1 episode special appearance
[Ep. 8]
1979Prosecutor Saburo Kirishima
Chief Prosecutor Mori
1979 Akō Rōshi
Sakon Tachibana
1 episode
1979–1980Fangs of Edo
Gunbei Asahina
3 episodes
[Ep. 1, 17, 26]
1979Hideout in Room 7
Gōsuke Saegusa
1980 Shōgun Toranaga Yoshii All 5 parts
1980.12.27It's 8 O'Clock! Everybody Gather 'Round
Himself1 episode [lower-alpha 1]
Sakon Shima
All 3 parts
1981–1982Ten Duels of Young Shingo
Tamon Umei
Two of three parts [lower-alpha 2]
[Parts 1,2]
1981.07.09My Daughter! Fly on the Wings of Love and Tears
(娘よ! 愛と涙の翼で翔べ)
TV film
1981.09.29Tuesday Suspense Theater: The Spherical Wilderness
(火曜サスペンス劇場 球形の荒野)
Kenichirō Nogami
TV film
1981–1982Bungo Detective Story
Shūsaku Chiba
5 episodes
[Ep. 5,10,13,18,26]
1981–1983The Lowly Ronin
Lowly Ronin Shūtō Shunka
(素浪人 春夏秋冬)
TV film series, all 6 parts
1982.09.19The Happy Yellow Handkerchief
Kenzō Shima
1 episode
[Ep. 4]
1983The Brave Man Says Little
(勇者は語らず いま、日米自動車戦争は)
Ryūzō Kawana
All 4 episodes
1983.11.03The Women of Osaka Castle
Tokugawa Ieyasu
TV film
1983.11.10The Secret of Cruel Valley
(魔境 殺生谷の秘密)
Lowly RōninTV film
1984 The Burning Mountain River
Otoshichi Amō
1984.04.02Okita Soji: Swordsman of Fire
(燃えて、散る 炎の剣士 沖田総司)
Shūsai Kondō
TV film
1984.08.26Toshiba Sunday Theater #1442: Summer Encounter
(東芝日曜劇場 第1442回 夏の出逢い)
Takeya Ōnuki
TV film
1987.09.10Masterpiece Jidaigeki:
National Advisor Breakthrough! Hikozaemon Geki

(傑作時代劇 天下の御意見番罷り通る!彦左衛門外記)
Hikozaemon Ōkubo
1 episode
[Ep. 21]
1990.04.20Heaven and Earth: Dawn Episode
Nagao Tamekage
TV film


  1. Mifune's appearance on It's 8 O'Clock! Everybody Gather 'Round was to promote the upcoming New Year's broadcast of Sekigahara. Mifune appeared on stage in a comedic samurai sketch wearing his Sakon Shima armor from the mini-series. In addition, Mifune sang with the "Little Singers of Tokyo" in another segment
  2. Ten Duels of Young Shingo Part 3, which did not feature Mifune but which concludes the story, aired on July 30, 1982

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