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Kirin Kiki, the Eternal Grandmother of Japanese Cinema

Kirin Kiki, the Eternal Grandmother of Japanese Cinema

This is an excerpt, taken from a recent touching and lovely article observing the life and career of one of Japans most celebrated actresses.

Words: Clémence Leleu

With her mischievous look, slow, precise gestures, and frail build, dressed as Madame Takeda, the tea ceremony instructor, the line between the character and Kirin Kiki appears to be a fine one. Every Day a Good Day, directed by Tatsushi Omori, was the final film made by the actress who passed away in September 2018, just before it was released. 

Kirin Kiki, whose real name was Keiko Uchida (she changed her name in 1977), made her mark on Japanese cinema, taking on the most magnificent roles of older characters that Japan’s seventh art had to offer, from the 2000s onwards. She regularly played the matriarch, a highly respected figure in Japanese society and the pillar of the family.

Kirin Kiki’s artistic career began far from film and television sets. Born in 1943 into a family of musicians, she made her stage debut in the 1960s, as part of a Japanese theatrical troupe involved in avant-garde theatre, shingeki. The young woman did not wish to restrict herself to the stage, however, and ventured into different areas, gaining a foothold in television, where she went on to appear in two very popular series in the 1970s, notably Terauchi Kantaro Ikka, in which she played an elderly woman, when in fact she had not long turned thirty. 

Read the rest of the article over at Pen Magazine



Pen Magazine International is a Tokyo-based lifestyle media. Who deliver stories of Japan-inspired creativity, bringing together and showcasing the very best in arts, culture, design, food and travel. Its a place where you find creative stories for creative minds.


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