Masako Natsume

Masako Natsume

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Masako Natsume

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(family name: Nishiyama) was a Japanese model and actress from Tokyo. Widely popular in Japan she gained worldwide recognition for her portrayal as Tripitaka in the TV series Monkey which is now considered a cult classic.


Masako was born Masako Odate in Roppongi, Tokyo and 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. Masako played the part under her real name Masako Odate.

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.

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".

Specialising as well bred but shy heroines in her movies she was regularly...
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