Akiko Wakabayashi

Akiko Wakabayashi

Original Name 若林 映子
Born December 13, 1939 (79)
Kitasen, Ota, Tokyo, Japan

Exotic, alluring actress who worked for Toho during the 60s. Wakabayashi aspired to be an actress since high school, when she began auditioning for Toho. She originally auditioned for the role of Princess Yuki in Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress (1958), but lost out to Misa Uehara, who was handpicked by Kurosawa on a whim. She was invited to join Toho anyway, and made her debut in Ishiro Honda’s Song for a Bride (1958), and her career quickly picked up steam from there.

Wakabayashi appeared in several sci-fi and fantasy films, most notably as the amnesiac princess in Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964) and the sole female in the diamond gang in Dogora, the Space Monster (1964).

Wakabayashi is best known in the West as Aki opposite Sean Connery’s James Bond in You Only Live Twice (1967). She was joined during production by actress Mie Hama, who played Kissy Suzuki. The actresses switched roles before filming because Wakabayashi’s English was better and the Aki character appeared in a longer portion of the film. She also portrayed the female spy lead in Taniguchi’s International Secret Police: Key of Keys (1965), which later became Woody Allen’s What’s Up, Tiger Lily?.

Wakabayashi remained with Toho until the studio began releasing actors from their contracts in the early 70s. While most actors made the switch to television, Wakabayashi retired from acting entirely. She’s lived in relative seclusion since then, although reports in 2014 announced that she would provide audio commentaries on Toho releases of her works.

Original Name 若林 映子
Born December 13, 1939 (79)
Kitasen, Ota, Tokyo, Japan

Exotic, alluring actress who worked for Toho during the 60s. Wakabayashi aspired to be an actress since high school, when she began auditioning for Toho. She originally auditioned for the role of Princess Yuki in Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress (1958), but lost out to Misa Uehara, who was handpicked by Kurosawa on a whim. She was invited to join Toho anyway, and made her debut in Ishiro Honda’s Song for a Bride (1958), and her career quickly picked up steam from there.

Wakabayashi appeared in several sci-fi and fantasy films, most notably as the amnesiac princess in Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964) and the sole female in the diamond gang in Dogora, the Space Monster (1964).

Wakabayashi is best known in the West as Aki opposite Sean Connery’s James Bond in You Only Live Twice (1967). She was joined during production by actress Mie Hama, who played Kissy Suzuki. The actresses switched roles before filming because Wakabayashi’s English was better and the Aki character appeared in a longer portion of the film. She also portrayed the female spy lead in Taniguchi’s International Secret Police: Key of Keys (1965), which later became Woody Allen’s What’s Up, Tiger Lily?.

Wakabayashi remained with Toho until the studio began releasing actors from their contracts in the early 70s. While most actors made the switch to television, Wakabayashi retired from acting entirely. She’s lived in relative seclusion since then, although reports in 2014 announced that she would provide audio commentaries on Toho releases of her works.