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Misa Uehara

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    sleiman

    Hi all.

    I stumbled upon this site looking for information on Misa Uehara, she of Hidden Fortress fame.

    She seems to be completely off the map. Even in Japanese I have not been able to find much.

    Is there anyone here with any information they would be willing to share?

    Thanks

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    Ugetsu

    I would love to know more too. I tried to find out a few years ago, but all I could establish is that she deliberately retired quite soon after Hidden Fortress (I would guess because of marriage) and died in 2003. Since she didn’t object when another actress took her name, I assume she had no interest in following up her acting career. The ‘new’ Misa Uehara makes it difficult to google anything about her in Japanese or English.

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    sleiman

    I was somewhat saddened to hear of her passing which made me more curious about her.

    I hope she enjoyed her time here.

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    Vili Maunula

    There indeed isn’t much information available on Uehara. She was selected for The Hidden Fortress after a search through Toho’s nationwide theatre chain, with employees instructed to keep an eye on suitable candidates visiting their cinemas. She enjoyed the Hidden Fortress shoot, went on to make a few other films in the next couple of years (reuniting with Mifune, Shimura and Minoru Chiaki in Saga of the Vagabonds) and then quit acting. Why she decided not to pursue her career further I don’t know, but Ugetsu’s guess sounds reasonable.

    There is a 1981 television interview where she appears with Kurosawa and Chiaki, reminiscing about The Hidden Fortress. A copy has been posted on YouTube. My Japanese isn’t on a level where I can say if the topic of her life post Hidden Fortress is discussed. Kurosawa talks about Star Wars.

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    sleiman

    Wow, thanks for that.

    I just watched it. References to her are only about the film itself and her thoughts about Kurosawa’s role. The subtitles towards the end simply state that she is currently the head of her household with two children, that is, the mother of her house..

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    Vili Maunula

    That’s interesting, thanks! Since I don’t really speak Japanese but understand some of it, I thought I’d ask you two things about this interview:

    1. Am I just imagining it, or are Uehara’s answers here extremely polite, even for typical Japanese female standards? Her sentence structures seem really complicated, to the point where I cannot really follow what she is saying. (Kurosawa, with his relative directness, is always much easier to understand.)

    2. This is perhaps a somewhat impudent remark, but is there something with her pronunciation here which is strange? I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it almost sounds like she has a speech defect of some kind. It could well also be the recording or the situation, and I kind of feel bad about asking this, but since we were wondering why she stopped acting, I have to ask about this.

    I hope you’ll stick around, sleiman, maybe even join our film club discussions. We could always use someone with Japanese knowledge!

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    sleiman

    She’s being pretty polite, that’s for sure, but I don’t think it is anything out of the ordinary considering her position within the conversation. I mean, at the time she was ‘just’ a housewife (as far as we know) and sitting next to her is the Big Daddy of Japanese cinema. In fact, you may have heard her say ‘Kurosawa-sensei’.

    Her speech is fine too, though I can see what you are referring to.

    It was great seeing a Misa Uehara different from the only version I’ve known of her. In Hidden Fortress, she has some sass but in the footage, she is a normal, everyday person. It removed her from my imagination and placed her within the bounds of reality which I am grateful for.

    As I mentioned, I hope she enjoyed here time here.

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    Vili Maunula

    Thanks sleiman, that’s great to know! I need to get back to my Japanese studies.

    It’s a weird feeling when someone that has almost become a mythical being in your imagination is suddenly made more real.

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    sleiman

    I enjoyd her performance in Hidden Fortress. I thought she provided a nice aloof foil for the other characters and that dynamic was interesting to watch.

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    Ugetsu

    Even though I have barely enough Japanese to just catch the occasional word or phrase, I still found that fascinating. She did seem very nervous, but thats hardly surprising given the company and that she had been out of the limelight for 2 decades.

    I have to admit that I wasn’t the greatest fan of her performance, but it wasn’t that bad either. She certainly had a very striking and charismatic face and appearance, although I suspect not as much natural talent as, for example, Keiko Awaji who was so very good in Stray Dog (just to take another example of an inexperienced young actress in an AK film). I wonder if she just decided herself that she wasn’t good enough to pursue a long term acting career and so moved on. A very admirable thing I think if that was the true situation.

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    sleiman

    I think you’re right about her appearance. It was very striking. And again, I think an excellent foil for the two bumblers as supporters. Those two were great!

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    ssj

    you guys are so polite! i’ll say it bluntly—i thought uehara was hot in the hidden fortress. and her noh-theater/vulcan eyebrows somehow made her hotter.

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    ssj

    found a historically accurate picture of yuki hime’s brother:

    sukaiwaka ruku.

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    Vili Maunula

    That dragon is clearly not comfortable with the situation.

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    Ugetsu

    Is it just me or is that dragon Groundsman Willie in disguise?

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