Article: 10 Japanese Actors Who Went From Rags To Riches

They say you could be from any background, but it is what you do with the life that has been given to you that could genuinely make you extraordinary. Follow this article to know about some Japanese actors who came from nothing but became prominent figures in the Japanese entertainment industry.

1. Kitano Takeshi

Kitano Takeshi is a Japanese MC, actor, author, comedian, and filmmaker. He initially worked as an elevator boy in the Asakusa district in 1972 before becoming an apprentice under Fukami Senzaburo. Takeshi gained momentum in his career as part of the comedy duo “Two Beat”, before going solo. He went on to become one of the three biggest and most celebrated comedians in Japan. Takeshi is the youngest AMONG two older brothers and an older sister. His mother worked in a local factory, and his father was a house painter.


2. Yamazaki Kento

Yamazaki Kento is a Japanese actor who debuted in the 2011 film “Control Tower”. Ever since his debut, Kento has only seen a rise in his fame and popularity, leading him to become one of Japan’s most celebrated young actors in his generation. Kento grew up in a middle-class family with his older brother, mother, and father. From a very young age, Kento had understood the struggles of his parents, who worked a day in and out to provide him and his brother with a decent life.


3. Watanabe Ken

Watanabe Ken first gained interest in acting at the age of 24. He moved from Uonuma to Tokyo in 1978 to pursue his dream. Ken first drew attention when Ninagawa Yukio, a famous Japanese director cast Ken as a lead in one of his plays, while Ken was still a student. Ken’s first TV appearance was in 1982. “DokuganRyu Masamune”, a popular Japanese TV drama series, was the breakthrough link in Ken’s career. He was cast as a lead and played the role of a samurai leader hero. After battling with leukemia, Ken made a comeback in “The Last Samurai”, co-starring Tom Cruise. This impelled Ken further into the Hollywood industry. Ken was born in Uonuma to two teachers. His mother was a general education teacher and, his father was a calligraphy teacher.


4. Miike Takashi

Originally, Miike only dreamt about motorbikes and not filmmaking. He attended the Yokohoma Vocational School of Broadcast and Film, solely because it did not have an entrance exam. Miike spent time under the guidance of Imamura Shohei, a Japanese filmmaker. After releasing over a dozen productions, Miike made his on-screen debut in 1995 with “Shinjuku Triad Society”. Miike was born in a working-class family. His father worked as a welder while his mother was a seamstress.


5. Tokuyama Hidenori

Tokuyama Hidenori is a Japanese singer and actor famous for his role in Sou Yaguruma. Koyanagi has acted in several dramas and movies since his childhood and is a popular figure in the Japanese entertainment industry. Koyanagi was born in Suginami-ku. He is a middle child between an older sister and a younger brother. His parents ran a ramen restaurant.


6. Aiba Masaki

Aiba Masaki is a Japanese actor and a member of the boy band Arashi as a vocalist. He is also a television personality and a radio host. Masaki was the first cast as the main lead in 2009, in the drama “My Girl”. He played the role of a young man who one day found out that his deceased ex-girlfriend had given birth to a daughter and decided to raise her. Masaki was born as the older of two sons. Both brothers were raised by their grandparents since his parents were busy managing their new restaurant.


7. Narimiya Hiroshige

Narimiya Hiroshige, alias, Narimiya Hiroki, is a Japanese actor. Hiroshige debuted in 2000, in a play titled “Horobikaketa Jinrui, Sono Ai no Honshitsu to wa”, and bagged his role after auditioning and getting selected out of 3000 applicants. Hiroshige was born in Tokyo. He and his younger brother were raised by his grandmother after his parent's divorce and his mother’s death. Hiroshige had dropped out of school to work and provide for his brother and grandmother. He took on many part-time jobs to be able to pay his brother’s high-school and college fees.


8. Matsuda Yusaku

Born in Shimonoseki, Matsuda Yusaku was a Japanese actor. Although he was born in 1949, some errors in filing led to his birth year being changed to 1950. Yusaku first appeared in a Japanese TV detective drama called “Taiyo no Hoero!”. Matsuda Yusaku was born to a Japanese father and a Zainichi Korean mother. His father was a probation officer.


9. Kato Go

Kato Go was an actor famous for his roles in the historical drama “Ooka Echizen”. He featured in the drama as a popular Edo period Samurai judge. Go made his debut as the main character in the 1962 movie “The Human Condition”. As a child, Kato Go studied literature and theatre. He was the son of a primary school principal.


10. Nakadai Tatsuya

Motohisa Nakadai, professionally known as Nakadai Tatsuya, is a Japanese actor famous for a vast range of roles and multiple collaborations with some of the top Japanese film directors. He starred and co-starred in five of Kurosawa Akira, and in multiple films by Teshigahara Hiroshi.

Nakadai was born in a very poor family and couldn’t even afford a university education. This was the primary reason why Nadakai chose to become an actor.