Veteran actress Kirin Kiki died early Saturday morning at the age of 75 at her home in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward. Kiki had cancer, but the official cause of her death was not immediately known.
Kiki, whose real name is Keiko Uchida, was born in Tokyo in 1943 and was the wife of rock singer Yuya Uchida and mother-in-law of popular actor Masahiro Motoki. A winner of two Japan Academy best actress awards, she was diagnosed with cancer in 2004.
Known for her work both in cinema and on television, she had recently won international acclaim for what would be her final film — Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Shoplifters” (“Manbiki Kazoku”), which won the coveted Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
On Aug. 30, Motoki told reporters that Kiki had broken her leg after falling at a friend’s house. After undergoing an operation, she later faced life-threatening conditions caused by weak bronchial tubes and cancer, Motoki said, according to media reports.
“I’m far from healthy,” Kiki was quoted as saying in a story that ran in The Japan Times on June 28.
“My cancer has spread throughout my entire body and there’s nothing the doctors can do,” Kiki added. “There’s no point in comparing myself now to my old healthy self and feeling miserable. . . . Rather than fighting reality, I choose to accept what’s in front of me and go with the flow.”