Mitsugoro BANDO (the 8th) (坂東三津五郎 (8代目))
Mitsugoro BANDO the 8th (October 19, 1906 - January 16, 1975) was a kabuki actor. He was also a Japanese actor. He was the adopted son of Mitsugoro BANDO the 7th. His real name was Toshiro MORITA. Since his youth, he specialized in playing the role of an enemy and elderly characters.
In 1913, he debuted as Yasosuke BANDO the 3rd in 'Yakko Dako' (a kite with a picture of a man) at Ichimura-za Theater.
In June of 1928, he succeeded to the professional name of Minosuke BANDO the 6th, playing the role of Ushiwakamaru in "Kurama Genji" (The Genji clan, or the Minamoto clan, in Kurama) at Meiji-za Theater.
He founded the Shingekijo (new theater) Theater Company in 1932.
In 1962, he succeeded to the professional name of Mitsugoro BANDO the 8th, in "Kisen" at the Kabuki-za Theater.
In 1973, he was recognized as an individual certified as an Important Intangible Cultural Asset (Living National Treasure).
He died on January 16, 1975, while he was touring during the new year's performance at the Minami-za Theater in Kyoto. He died suddenly due to poisoning from his favorite food, tiger puffer fish liver. He was 68 years old.
He founded the Shingekijo Theater Company in 1932, being influenced not only by kabuki, but also by Kaoru OSANAI, who was one of the founders of the modern theater. He then returned to Tokyo, after spending time at Toho Co.,Ltd. and Kansai Kabuki.
According to his grandson, Mitsugoro BANDO (the 10th), Mitsugoro the 8th was known as a knowledgeable man who loved to read. He was so studious that he went to the National Diet Library every day in order to so some research for his roles.
In addition, Mitsugoro the 8th was also well-known as a gastronome. He loved baguettes from Donq (a bakery selling French-style bread founded in Kobe in 1905). When his grandson, Mitsugoro the 10th, was a young boy, he followed his grandfather and they ate Sapporo-style ramen noodles together. Afterwards, Mitsugoro the 8th, surprised, said 'I never knew that such a delicious food like this existed in the world' (from "Ningen Kokuho" - Living National Treasures weekly magazine, The Asahi Shinbun Company).
His attitude toward acting was so stern and resolute that while he was at Toho Theater Company he pushed Yunosuke ITO to the brink of committing suicide.
However, regarding this matter and he said, 'in the end, it benefits him, and I treat him with strictness out of love.'
He later became more gentle when ITO became successful.
Puffer fish poisoning
The sudden death of Mitsugoro the 8th was a major incident, and since then, 'puffer fish poisoning' was always associated with the name 'Mitugoro' as an example. This incident caused a heated debate, over whether Mitsugoro was at fault for being fully aware of the danger yet consuming 4 servings of highly poisonous liver, or if the chef was at fault for making a mistake in cleaning the fish even though he was supposedly a licensed puffer fish chef. In this incident, as with others, the fact that the chef unwillingly served the food to Mitsugoro, who kept asking for one dish after another, became an issue. Back then, it was rare for the chef, who caused puffer fish poisoning, to be found guilty in a criminal trial. However, in this case, since the 'unwilling' chef was still considered 'at fault,' the chef was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter due to professional negligence as well as of being in violation of a Kyoto Prefectural Ordinance. The chef was sentenced to imprisonment with parole. The sentencing shocked society because both sides were held responsible.
His daughter's husband is Mitsugoro BANDO (the 9th). Mitsugoro BANDO (the 10th) and actress Kimiko IKEGAMI are his grandchildren, and Shikisa KISHIZAWA the 11th is his nephew.