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Matagoro Nakamura

Japan's oldest kabuki actor

February 24, 2009|Times Staff and Wire Reports

Matagoro Nakamura, 94, believed to be Japan's oldest kabuki actor, died Saturday of natural causes at his home in Tokyo, according to the Japan Times newspaper.

Known for his ability to perform a wide range of supporting roles in the centuries-old traditional art, Nakamura's last main appearance on stage was in April 2006, according to the Mainichi newspaper.

The son of a kabuki actor, Nakamura was born Yukio Nakamura in 1913. He debuted in Japan's classical theatrical art at age 8 and earned great acclaim for his graceful acting style that allowed him to look natural in a variety of roles ranging from a young woman to an elderly man.

Since the 1970s, the Tokyo native had devoted himself to nurturing young kabuki actors and lecturing on the traditional art overseas.

He was named a living national treasure in 1997.

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