Zatoichi is a fictional character, a blind masseur and blademaster, who is featured in one of Japan’s longest running series of films and a television series that are both set during the late Edo period (1830s and 1840s). The character was created by novelist Kan Shimozawa.
This originally character is a minor character developed for actor Shintaro Katsu by Daiei Studios (now Kadokawa Pictures) for the screen. There were 26 films made from 1962 to 1989. From 1974 to 1979, the television series was produced, also starring Shintaro Katsu and some of the other stars who appeared in the films. The TV episodes were produced by Katsu Productions. One hundred episodes, with episodes 99 and 100 being a two-part story finale, were aired before the Zatoichi television series was cancelled.
Blind Fury made in the US in 1990 by TriStar Pictures was a retake of Zatoichi Challenged (1967), film number 17 of the original series. Blind Fury was an action movie that starred Rutger Hauer.
The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi (2003) was directed by Takeshi Kitano, who also played lead Zatōichi in the film. The film was awarded the Venice Film Festival’s Silver Lion for Best Direction in 2003.
A stage version was also made and was directed by Takashi Miike, It starred Show Aikawa.
List of all the original films and the film’s directors:
- The Tale of Zatoichi (1962) Director Kenji Misumi
- The Tale of Zatoichi Continues (1962) Director Kazuo Mori
- New Tale of Zatoichi (1963) Director Tokuzo Tanaka
- Zatoichi The Fugitive (1963) Director Tokuzo Tanaka
- Zatoichi on the Road (1963) Director Kimiyoshi Yasuda
- Zatoichi and the Chest of Gold (1964) Director Kazuo Ikehiro
- Zatoichi’s Flashing Sword (1964) Director Kazuo Ikehiro
- Fight, Zatoichi, Fight (1964) Director Kenji Misumi
- Adventures of Zatoichi (1964) Director Kimiyoshi Yasuda
- Zatoichi’s Revenge (1965) Director Akira Inoue
- Zatoichi and the Doomed Man (1965) Director Kazuo Mori
- Zatoichi and the Chess Expert (1965) Director Kenji Misumi
- Zatoichi’s Vengeance (1966) Director Tokuzo Tanaka
- Zatoichi’s Pilgrimage (1966) Director Kazuo Ikehiro
- Zatoichi’s Cane Sword (1967) Director Kimiyoshi Yasuda
- Zatoichi the Outlaw (1967) Director Satsuo Yamamoto
- Zatoichi Challenged (1967) Director Kenji Misumi
- Zatoichi and the Fugitives (1968) Director Kimiyoshi Yasuda
- Samaritan Zatoichi (1968) Director Kenji Misumi
- Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo (1970) Director Kihachi Okamoto
- Zatoichi Goes to the Fire Festival (1970) Director Kenji Misumi
- Zatoichi Meets the One Armed Swordsman (1971) Director Kimiyoshi Yasuda
- Zatoichi at Large (1972) Director Kazuo Mori
- Zatoichi in Desperation (1972) Director Shintaro Katsu
- Zatoichi’s Conspiracy (1973) Director Kimiyoshi Yasuda
- Zatoichi: Darkness Is His Ally (1989) Director Shintaro Katsu