Legendary Japanese actor Ken Takakura

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Takakura was born Goichi Oda in Fukuoka Prefecture and his exacting portrayals of streetwise, macho gangsters, came from his own observations of mafia turf wars when he was a youngster growing up in the area in post-war Japan, when yakuza-led black market trade and racketeering started to surface.

Japanese actor Ken Takakura

Japanese actor Ken Takakura[File photo]

Takakura first won critical acclaim for his roles as a stern- faced, swagger-filled gangster and, thereafter, his portrayals of a diverse range of characters including heroic samurai and hard- nosed police detectives. He gained attention and praise from overseas audiences for his role as a no-nonsense police officer in Osaka in Ridley Scott's 1989 film "Black Rain," starring alongside Michael Douglas.

Takakura, regarded as something of a national treasure here, was also praised for his role in Chinese director Zhang Yimou's hit drama "Riding Alone For Thousands of Miles."

Now, Takakura has become less-known among Chinese teens and those in their early 20s. However, many of them are enthusiastic about other forms of Japanese culture, such as cartoons, cosplay, music and fashion, regardless of turbulent China-Japan ties.

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