Kaoru Yachigusa, Actress in Oscar-Winner 'Samurai, the Legend of Musashi,' Dies at 88

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Kaoru Yachigusa

She went on to work in television and films into her 80s.

Japanese actress Kaoru Yachigusa, who appeared opposite Toshiro Mifune in Oscar-winner Samurai, the Legend of Musashi, has died. She was 88.

Yachigusa died of pancreatic cancer Thursday at a hospital in Tokyo, her agency announced Monday.

Born in Osaka, Yachigusa began her career in the all-female Takarazuka Revue theater troupe and made her film debut in 1951. Her big break came in the 1954 film Samurai, The Legend of Musashi, starring Mifune as legendary swordsman Miyamoto Musashi. It was the first of a trilogy by director Hiroshi Inagaki and one of the first color films from the Toho studio. Samurai won the honorary foreign language film award at the Oscars in 1956.

The following year, Yachigusa married director and screenwriter Senkichi Taniguchi, and they were together until he died in 2007 at age 95. Taniguchi was a friend and frequent collaborator of Akira Kurosawa, and both of them directed Mifune.

Yachigusa went on to appear in television dramas and films for decades, working into her 80s and receiving decorations from the Japanese government in recognition of her career.

Koji Yakusho (Memoirs of a Geisha), when asked about Yachigusa on the red carpet at the opening of the Tokyo International Film Festival on Monday, called her, "a beautiful person, inside and out."