Yumi Shirakawa (Akiko Yamazaki)
BiographyShinagawa, Tokyo, Japan
Yumi Shirakawa joined Toho when she was just 19, in 1956. By the end of the year, Toho had catapulted the beautiful actress into her first starring role, alongside Kenji Sahara in RODAN (Sora no Daikaiju Radon, 1956). Director Ishiro Honda took a shine to her and cast her in several of his subsequent movies, both science fiction (THE MYSTERIANS, THE H-MAN) and not (INAO-STORY OF AN IRON ARM, THE SCARLET MAN). Shirakawa's innately noble good looks tended to typecast her, and her early roles were either beleaguered victims or patrician ice princesses. Read more... TELEGRAPHED MAN (aka DENSO NINGEN, 1960). By 1961 however, Shirakawa had attracted the attention of such noted directors as Yasujiro Ozu, who put her into his AUTUMN FOR THE KOBAYAKAWA FAMILY (aka EARLY AUTUMN, 1961). The same year, Shirakawa contributed a nuanced performance as a brave schoolteacher facing the end of the world in SEKAI DAISENSO (aka THE LAST WAR). Although she was married in 1962 (to Hideaki Nitani), unlike many of her contemporaries in Japan, her career did not end with marriage. It continues, mainly in television performances, up through at least the late 1980s.