Today I received a lovely gift from my friend Lonny in Tokyo: Eight samurai film star trading cards from the 1950s (see above, click for enlargement). Being the obsessive nerd that I am, I've been trying to identify them, going by their facial features and what I can decipher of the kanji that make up their names. So far, numbering them 1 - 8 from left to right, I've determined that #1 is Utaemon Ichikawa, #4 is Chiezo Kataoka, #5 is Tsumasaburo Bando and #7 is Denjiro Okochi. (#8 doesn't show a name and he's wearing a disguise, but his name is on the back.)
Here's where you come in: If you're also an obsessive samurai film nerd, or perhaps just fluent in Japanese, maybe you can help me identify the remaining four guys (#2, #3, #6 and #8). I'll continue to research these guys as well, and together, we can crack this mystery! Just leave a comment, contact me via twitter (@pat_galloway), or send email to samurai[at]cyberpat.com.
Also of interest, on the back of the cards you'll notice (again, click to enlarge), in addition to the name of the actor, a little hand forming the sign for either rock, paper or scissors, thus making these gaming cards (whoever wins gets the other guy's card, I would imagine). Don't get any ideas, though -- I'm not gambling these babies away! (Note: In the image above, the actor names are now reversed because the cards are all of a piece. So #8 is now #1, #7 is now #2, etc.)
UPDATE: My twitter pal jimmymcwicked identifies #3 as Kazuo Hasegawa and #6 as Susumu Fujita. Thanks, jimmymcwicked!
UPDATE: This just in -- #8 is Kanjuro Arashi. Thanks again to the amazing jimmymcwicked.
UPDATE: Alright, #2 is confirmed: Ryunosuke Tsukigata. Props to jimmymcwicked for this one as well. He'd called it initially, but I pointed out the kanji didn't match his name as listed on Wikipedia and elsewhere. However, Aizu Shingo from Tokyo emailed me that the name on the card is indeed an alternate spelling of the actor's name. So there you have it. Thanks guys!