Takeshi Kitano Biography

(Japanese Comedian, Actor and Filmmaker)

Birthday: January 18, 1947 (Capricorn)

Born In: Adachi, Tokyo

Japanese comedian, filmmaker, and actor Takeshi Kitano initially aspired to be an engineer but soon dropped out and began his career as part of the popular comedy duo Two Beats, using the pseudonym Beat Takeshi. He later focused on his acting and directorial career, earning both fans and awards with films such as the Golden Lion-winning Hana-bi. Mostly known for his yakuza gangster-themed movies, he has also hosted numerous TV shows, such as Takeshi’s Castle. He later also branched into writing and penned several books, including a few novels and a memoir. He has also written columns for newspapers. After a deadly motorcycle accident, which left him partially paralyzed for days, he took to painting and showcased his art at various exhibitions. He has also been an instructor at the Tokyo University of the Arts. The father of two is now divorced from his former wife, Mikiko Kitano.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Beat Takeshi

Age: 76 Years, 76 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Mikiko Kitano (m. 1980–2019)

children: Atsushi Kitano, Shoko Kitano

Born Country: Japan

Actors Comedians

Height: 5'5" (165 cm), 5'5" Males

Notable Alumni: Meiji University

More Facts

education: Meiji University

Childhood & Early Life

Takeshi Kitano was born on January 18, 1947, into a working-class family in Adachi, Tokyo, Japan. While his father was a house painter, his mother was an educator who worked in a factory.

He had two brothers and a sister and was the youngest sibling. While he initially aspired to become an engineer and joined Meiji University, he dropped out of college in 1972, at age 19, to step into show business.

He soon moved to Asakusa to learn comedy. While at Asakusa, he also earned his living by working as an elevator operator at a strip club named Asakusa France-za.

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Career as a Comedian

Takeshi Kitano began his career as a comedian in the 1970s, as part of the comedy duo Two Beats, along with his friend Kaneko Kiyoshi. He soon adopted the pseudonym Beat Takeshi, while his friend came to be known as Beat Kiyoshi, and they would perform under the same names in nightclubs.

In 1976, the duo appeared on TV for the first time. They soon began performing as a national act. In the early 1980s, the duo was dissolved at its peak, as Kitano decided to go solo. Kitano also became popular as the host of the reality game show Takeshi’s Castle, which featured slapstick-style contests.

Career as an Actor, Director, Screenwriter & TV Host

In the late 1970s, Takeshi Kitano started his solo acting career. He appeared in the series Super Superman and in a number of movies. In 1983, he appeared alongside David Bowie, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and Tom Conti in his first English-language film, Nagisa Oshima’s Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence. He appeared as a World War II POW camp sergeant in the movie, and the character marked his entry into serious cinema from comedy.

His directorial debut, 1989’s Violent Cop, was followed by Boiling Point, which released in 1990. It was also his first film as a screenwriter. In 1991, Takeshi released A Scene at the Sea, which won him the Blue Ribbon Award for Best Film. He soon began a long-term collaboration with composer Joe Hisaishi.

His 1993 film Sonatine was about a melancholy yakuza gangster and was a huge success. Though it fared badly in Japan, it received rave reviews at the Cannes Film Festival that year.

In August the following year, he was severely injured in a motorcycle accident. The injuries led to partial paralysis on the right side of Kitano’s face. He recovered after months of physical therapy but retained a permanent scowl on his face due to the accident.

In 1995, he was seen in Johnny Mnemonic, the film adaption of William Gibson’s story. He made a glorious comeback with Hana-bi in 1997. This was another story of policemen and yakuza and blended both comic and tragic elements. It won a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival that year and was also selected as the best non-European film of 1997 by the European Film Academy.

Hana-bi won the Golden Lion at the 1997 Venice Film Festival. Kitano also appeared in the 1999 film Taboo and hosted the TV show Koko ga Hen da yo Nihonjin from 1998 to 2002.

In 2000, Kitano appeared in the Japanese hit Battle Royale. The same year, Kitano starred as an exiled yakuza in Brother. Although the movie was not an international hit, it raked in more profits than Hana-bi in Japan.

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He then had a string of unsuccessful roles but made a comeback with the 2003 film Zatoichi, which he directed and starred in, too. The movie was a blockbuster in Japan and won countless awards, such as the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival.

In 2005, he released his first surrealist autobiographical series, Takeshis. This was followed by Glory to the Filmmaker in 2007. His film Outrage was featured at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, and in 2012, its sequel, Outrage Beyond, was screened at the 69th Venice International Film Festival. Outrage Beyond earned the Best Director Award at the 7th Asian Film Awards.

Kitano made his comeback to American cinema with the live action adaption of the manga Ghost in the Shell. In 2017, he released the series Outrage Coda.

Career as an Author, Painter & Instructor

Takeshi Kitano has also been a newspaper columnist and has penned several novels; a collection of short stories, titled Shounen; and the 1988 memoir Asakusa Kid. The memoir was filmed in 2002. Many of his books were later translated into French.

Following his motorcycle accident in 1994, he took up painting. Many of his paintings were later featured in gallery exhibitions, books, and the covers of soundtracks. His paintings also found a place in the 1997 movie Hana-bi.

From 2005 to 2008, he worked as an instructor at the Graduate School of Visual Arts of the Tokyo University of the Arts.

Awards & Achievements

Apart from the Golden Lion that he won for his film Hana-bi, at the 54th Venice International Film Festival in 1997, Kitano has bagged several major awards and honors.

In 2008, he earned the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Moscow International Film Festival. In March 2010, Kitano was named a Commander of the Order of the Arts and Letters of France.

Personal Life

Takeshi Kitano married Mikiko Kitano in 1983. The couple had two children, Shoko Kitano and Atsushi Kitano.

Mikiko stayed out of the limelight for most of Takeshi Kitano’s career, except when rumors of Kitano having an affair surfaced. She also made headlines when she nursed Kitano back to normal after his motorcycle accident.

The couple’s 40-year-old marriage ended with a divorce in 2019. The couple’s daughter, Shoko Kitano has had a short-lived career as a singer and actor. She later studied in the US.

See the events in life of Takeshi Kitano in Chronological Order

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