Actress Etsuko Ichihara Passes Away at 82
posted on by Egan Loo
Prolific screen actress and voice actress Etsuko Ichihara passed away just after 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 12 in a Tokyo hospital due to heart failure. She was 82. She had been battling autoimmune myelitis ever since she was diagnosed with the neurological disorder two years ago. A service will be held in Tokyo on January 18.
Ichihara was born in Chiba prefecture. She joined the Haiyuza Theatre Company in 1957, and showed her acclaimed acting skills primarily in stage productions and films. She left Haiyuza in 1971, but gained popularity by starring as the titular character in the live-action television series Kaseifu wa Mita! (The Housekeeper Saw!) from 1983 to 2008.
She then won the Japan Academy Prize for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Black Rain, a 1989 film adapting a novel about the fallout from the Hiroshima bombing. She played the titular warlord character's mother in NHK's live-action historical television series Hideyoshi in 1996, and also starred in other live-action television series such as Bengoshi Takamizawa Kyōko (Attorney Kyōko Takamizawa) from 1998 to 2014.
Starting in 1975, Ichihara narrated and voiced Manga Nihon Mukashi Banashi, the widely watched television anime series that recounts Japanese folk tales. As a result, her voice became a familiar presence in Japanese living rooms for over two decades. Her other roles include Cyborg 0010 (Helena) in Cyborg 009 and the Monster Wars, Hilda in Horus - Prince of the Sun, Bilblanc in Chibikko Remi to Meiken Kapi, the narrator in Ashita no Kibō -Kanashimi yo Arigatō: Takae Tsuneo Monogatari-, and Granny in Miyori in the Sacred Forest.
More recently, she played Hitoha Miyamizu, the grandmother of the heroine Mitsuha, in Makoto Shinkai's critically and financially successful anime film Your name.