Takamine Hideko (1924—)

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Takamine Hideko (1924—)

Popular child actress, known as "the Japanese Shirley Temple," who in adulthood worked with Japan's most accomplished film directors, portraying a wide variety of roles. Name variations: Takama Yoshio. Pronunciation: Ta-ka-me-nay He-day-koe. Born Takama Yoshio in 1924 in Hakodate, Hokkaido, Japan; daughter of Hirayama Kinji (a restaurant owner); adopted by Hirayama Shige (her paternal aunt) and Ogino Ichiji (both of whom were benshi);married Matsuyama Zenzo (a film director and screenwriter), in March 1955; no children.

Selected filmography:

Tsuzurikata kyoshitsu (Composition Class, 1938); Nijushi no hitomi (Twenty-four Eyes, 1954); Na mo naku mazushiku utsukushiku (Nameless, Poor, Beautiful, 1961).

Selected writings:

(autobiography) Watashi no tosei nikki (1976).

Takamine Hideko was born in Hakodate, Hokkaido, Japan, in 1924. Her early years were spent in her parents' restaurant, where she remembers being entertained by the geisha. Following the death of her mother, Hideko was raised by her aunt, who was a benshi, a professional narrator for silent films before the introduction of sound. When Hideko was five, her uncle took her to audition for the film Mother, in which she played her first role. Notes James O'Brien: "A winsome girl, she quickly became a popular child actress, affectionately known in her own country as 'the Japanese Shirley Temple.' Unlike Shirley Temple and most other child stars, Takamine Hideko managed to avoid the pitfalls that always seem to await the popular child performer trying to sustain a career beyond the period of natural charm and into adolescence." As a teenager, Hideko was a popular "pin-up girl," her photograph frequently sent as a gift to Japanese soldiers overseas. Following the war, she maintained her popularity with appearances in critically acclaimed films. In the 1970s, Hideko began writing her two-volume autobiography, Watashi no tosei nikki, which won a prestigious award for nonfiction. In it, she describes the ways in which serendipity, determination, and hard work enabled her to be a successful film actress.


O'Brien, James. "Takamine Hideko: The Actress," in Heroic With Grace: Legendary Women of Japan. Chieko Mulhern, ed. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1991, pp. 265–296.

Linda L. Johnson , Professor of History, Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota