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Masako Natsume

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Full Name  Masako Odate
Name  Masako Natsume
Cause of death  leukemia
Role  Model
Resting place  Hofu, Yamaguchi
Parents  Sue Odate, Kazu Odate
Occupation  Actress

Masako Natsume wearing kimono.

Born  December 17, 1957 (1957-12-17) Roppongi, Tokyo, Japan
Awards  Best Actress, 8th Hochi Film Award (1983)
Died  September 11, 1985, Tokyo, Japan
Spouse  Shizuka Ijuin (m. 1984–1985)
Siblings  Toshiaki Odate, Kazuo Odate
Movies and TV shows  Onimasa, Monkey, MacArthur's Children, Antarctica, 203 kochi
Similar People  Hiroko Shino, Yoshiko Tanaka, Haru, Masaaki Sakai, Miku Natsume

Masako Natsume (夏目 雅子, Natsume Masako, December 17, 1957 - September 11, 1985) was a Japanese actress from Tokyo. Widely popular in Japan she gained worldwide recognition for her portrayal of Tripitaka in the TV series Monkey which is now considered a cult classic.


Masako Natsume wearing a swimsuit at the beach.

海童 masako natsume

【夏目雅子】あの瞳をもう一度!Masako Natume photo【画像集】


A poster featuring Masako Natsume in her portrayal of Tripitaka in the TV series Monkey.

Masako was born Masako Odate in Roppongi, Tokyo, the only daughter of Sue and Kazu Odate. Raised in Naka-ku, Yokohama, while in junior college in 1976 she auditioned for the lead in Nihon TV's Ai Ga Miemasu Ka?. Chosen from 4,000 applicants, she dropped out of school to pursue an acting career, playing the part under her real name Masako Odate. Masako's mother initially objected to her choice of career and requested that she not use the Odate family name if she gained further work. In 1977, she changed her name to Natsume.

Masako Natsume wearing a black and red hood.

In 1977, she was chosen to represent Kanebo Cosmetics, achieving great popularity after appearing topless as the "Kooky Face" girl in an ad for sunscreen. This popularity led to her recording a song later that year called "Oh! Cookie Face". Many bit parts and a few leads in movies followed but she continued in television.

A poster featuring Masako Natsume in her portrayal of Tripitaka in the TV series Monkey.

In 1978-79, she played the male part of Tripitaka (Sanzō-hōshi, Japanese translation of Sanzang-fashi) in the 1970s Japanese TV program Saiyūki, which proved popular in many English-speaking countries in the 1980s, when dubbed by the BBC and titled Monkey. Masako won the part as she had matched contemporary descriptions of Sanzō-hōshi's appearance more closely than male actors who auditioned.

Masako made her stage debut with the Tokyo-Takarazuka Theater Company in 1980 in the play "Kikaishi Naporeon No Taishoku".

Masako Natsume wearing a headdress.

Specialising as well-bred but shy heroines in her movies, she was regularly criticized by the public and media for her poor acting. However, this changed in 1982 after appearing as an ambitious and immoral woman in the TV drama "Shousha" and as the daughter of a Yakuza leader in the movie "Onimasa". One of her lines from this movie "Don't you shit with me!" became a very popular catchphrase in Japan.

Masako Natsume with a towel on her head.

She won the award for best actress at the 8th Hochi Film Award for The Catch and Time and Tide.


Masako Natsume wearing a coat.

She died from acute leukemia at the age of 27 in 1985 and is buried in Hōfu, Yamaguchi under the name Masako Nishiyama.


In 1997, Canon produced a television commercial for a copy machine, featuring her photocopied images, which offered 100 free compilations of the images in a book. Canon received 230,000 applications. Masako Natsume picture books and calendars are still popular in Japan today.

In 2007, TBS broadcast a documentary on Masako's life titled "Himawari - Masako Natsume 27 - sai no Shougai to Haha no Ai" based on the book "Futari no Masako" written by her mother, Sue Odate. The documentary stars Yagi Yūki as Natsume in her childhood and Nakama Yukie as a grown Natsume.


  • Kaze no Hayato (1979)
  • The Shousha (1980) - Maki Matsuyama
  • Downtown monogatari (1981)
  • Nonomurabyouin monogatari (1981) - Noriko Kitami
  • Onna Taikōki (1981) - Oichi
  • Dokkiri Tenma-sensei 2 (1983)
  • Tokugawa Ieyasu (1983) - Yodo-dono
  • Television in a starring role

  • Ai Ga Meimasu Ka (Can you see love?)
  • Akum no Temariuta (Devil)
  • Ougon no Hibi (Platinum Age)
  • Y no Higeki (Tragedy of Y)
    This television drama was the first Japanese drama based on an Ellery Queen novel.
  • Saiyuki (Monkey)
  • Nijiko no Boukan (Adventures of Nijiko)
  • Films

  • Ore no Sora (My Sky) 1977
  • Truck Yaro: Otoko Ippiki Momojiro {translation required} 1977
  • Nihyakusan Kochi (Port Arthur) 1980
    A Russo-Japanese War Drama about the Siege of Port Arthur. Masako plays the role of an Imperial Japanese Army officer's girlfriend who stays in Japan.
  • Masho no Natsu (The Summer of Evil Spirits) 1981
  • Onimasa Kiryuin Hanako no Shogai (The life of Hanako Kiryuin) 1982 Renamed Onimasa for foreign distribution.
    It was Japan's submission to the 55th Academy Awards for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film but was not accepted as a nominee.
  • Dai Nihon Teikoku ( The Great Japanese Empire) 1982
    A WW2 drama where Masako plays two roles. A terminally ill Japanese student striving to become a painter and a Filipino woman.
  • Future War 198X 1982
    An animated film with Masako providing the voice for a pilot in the United States Airforce.
  • Jidai-ya no Nyobo (A wife of Jidai-ya) 1983 Renamed Time and Tide for foreign distribution.
    Jidai-ya is the name of a shop. Masako plays two roles. The wife of the shops owner who walks out on him and the customer he falls in love with because she looks like his wife.
  • Shosetsu Yoshida Gakkou (Yoshida School) 1983 - Kazuko Asō
  • Nankyoku Monogatari (South Pole Story) 1983
    Released in the United States under the title "Antarctica". This movie is the second most successful film in Japan after Steven Spielbergs E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
  • Gyoei no Mure (A Group of Fish) 1983. Renamed The Catch for foreign distribution.
  • Setouchi Shonen Yakyu Dan (Setouchi Boys Baseball Team) 1984. Renamed MacArthur's Children for foreign distribution.
    Released posthumously.
  • References

    Masako Natsume Wikipedia