At 67 years old, Koji Yakusho has this physical status:
Yakusho was born in Isahaya, Nagasaki, and was the youngest of five brothers. He began working at the Chiyoda municipal ward office, or kuyakusho in Tokyo, from which he later took his stage name after graduating from Nagasaki Prefectural High School of Technology in 1974. He attended a production of Maxim Gorky's The Lower Depths in 1976 and was inspired, first to watch, and then later to perform in as many plays as possible.
He auditioned for the Mumeijuku (Study for Unknown Performers) acting studio in Tatsuya Nakadai in 1978, and he was one of four selected out of 800 applicants. Saeko Kawatsu, the actress who married in 1982, met him while at the school. They were born in 1985.
He appeared in Oda Nobunaga's year-long NHK drama Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1983 and was brought to fame. Miyamoto Musashi's television version appeared from 1984 to 1985. Kuji Shinnosuke (or "Sengoku"), one of the main characters in the jidaige ga Kiru's jidaige. In Juzo Itami's 1986 Tampopo, he was a central figure.
He was given a special award for his work in cinema by the Japanese Minister of Education, Science, Sports, and Culture in 1988, and he continued to appear in films and in a number of television shows into the 1990s.
Yakusho had many major successes between 1996 and 1997. At the 1997 Cannes Film Festival, the Eel, directed by Shohei Imamura, took the lead role. Lawrence Van Gelder of the New York Times described his appearance as "unerring." The second highest disaster at the Japanese box office, A Lost Paradise, about a double-suicide.
Shall We Dance?There was such a big success in Japan that it sparked a national dance revival. Since the film's arrival, ballroom groups and dance schools have grown in the United States, and people who never confessed to taking lessons have told them with pride. "We wanted to play this overworked, ill Japanese businessman," director Masayuki Suo said of his lead, who up to that point was best known for playing good-looking samurai.
The film was also one of Japan's highest-grossing films outside of the country. It earned $9.5 million in the United States and sparked a remake starring Jennifer Lopez and Richard Gere, with Gere playing Yakusho.
For Bounce Ko Gals, a film that dealt specifically with high school promulsion and general praise, Yakusho went on to win the Hochi Film Award for Best Actor. In Cure, License to Live, Seance, Charisma, Pulse, Retribution, and Tokyo Sonata, he collaborated with horror writer Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Yakusho gained more acclaim from international audiences, as seen in such films as Memoirs of a Geisha and Babel. He starred in Alejandro González Irrritu's second film, as the father of Rinko Kikuchi's deaf-mute.
He debuted as Toad's Oil's director and writer in 2009. He appeared in both ensemble casts in Takashi Miike's samurai films, 13 Assassins, and Hara-Kiri: The death of a Samurai. The latter was in 3D and the first 3D film to be in competition at the Cannes Film Festival.
Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was portrayed in the 2011 war drama film Rengai Chestai Ch. Kantai Shirei Chkan. According to reports, Yakusho was the only actor seriously considered for the role; if he had not accepted it, the film would have been cancelled.
He was in The Blood of Wolves in 2018.