Veteran actor Funakoshi dies at 84


Funakoshi suffered a stroke and died in hospital in Shizuoka Prefecture, south of Tokyo, on Saturday.

His earliest works include 1953's "Konjiki Yasha," which aired in the U.S. as "Golden Demon," and 1956's "Nihonbash," which was exported as "Bridge of Japan."

But he rose to prominence in 1959 for his depiction of the character Tamura in Kon Ichikawa's "Nobi," or "Fires on the Plain." Funakoshi played a luckless private in the Imperial Japanese Army stationed in the Philippines near the end of World War II.

"Funakoshi was one of the few Japanese actors who could really pull off the part of an aristocrat," said Kaori Shoji, film correspondent for the Japan Times. "He built his career on playing the role of a debonair gentleman.

"He carried himself in a very un-Japanese way," she said. "He chose lots of roles in which he appeared almost the British gentleman."

Funakoshi was married to Yumiko Hasegawa, a former actress. Their eldest son, Eiichiro, is a popular television actor in Japan.