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Beloved actor Kunie Tanaka dies at 88: the Asahi Shimbun

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Actor Kunie Tanaka, who became a household name playing a goofy but devoted father in a longtime drama series, died of natural causes on March 24. He was 88 years old.

Tanaka played Goro Kuroita in Kita no Kuni kara, which took place between 1981 and 2002. The television drama followed the life of a family in Furano, Hokkaido.

Prior to his breakout role, Tanaka served as a foil to some of the biggest movie stars of the 1960s and 1970s.

He appeared in Akira Kurosawas Sanjuro as a young samurai in a group who turned to Toshiro Mifune for help countering evil-intent clan elders. He also had a supporting role opposite Ken Takakura in Abashiri Bangaichi and appeared in a number of yakuza films with Bunta Sugawara.

But Tanaka is mostly remembered in Japan for his role as Goro Kuroita and the vital role he played in the development of child actors Tomoko Nakajima and Hidetaka Yoshioka as younger sister and brother into adulthood.

Nakajima said she was only grateful for the way Tanaka tried to stay in touch even after she reached adulthood.

Yoshioka said, The only thing I remember now is her smile.

The Furano sites used as the backdrop for the drama still draw fans from all over the country.

The TV drama was written by So Kuramoto, who said he decided to play Tanaka instead of other lead actors because he wanted someone who evokes pathos on screen.



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