Takase Kiyoshi 高瀬清

1888 or 1890 (or 1894) – Born in Tokyo. Eldest son of a glass blower.

1900-1901 Left Japan at the age of 12 with the Ten Ichi troupe of jugglers. Toured England and America. Claims to have been left stranded and worked as a restaurant cashier until he joined another troupe of jugglers.

1904 Ten-ichi and Ten Katsu returned to Japan. Ten-ichi’s son and Kiyoshi Takase continued touring Europe and America until 1909 when Ten-ichi’s son returned to Japan and Takase continued on his own.

1911 April – census – staying at the Mortlake Hotel in London, aged 21, artist, single

1912 December – appearing as Takase with Japanese magic, with Maskelyne and Devant’s Mysteries, St George’s Hall, London.

1913 August – Takase Japanese juggler, Blackburn

1913 September – Takase Japanese magician – St Helens

1913 December – marries Fanny Mount Parr, a laundry hand, in Haslingden, Lancashire. Occupation given as “illusionist”

1914 May – Lillian Hana, daughter of Takase and Fanny, is born in Haslingden, Lancashire

1914 September – “Takase,” the gifted Japanese magician, whose many mystifying feats make an act such as is seldom seen in the variety halls. “Takase” is distinct attraction, and the reception accorded him at the Empire is perhaps rendered all the warmer from the fact that be belongs to the plucky little nation which is now our ally in the Far East. Motherwell Times

1914 December – Takase a Japanese magician featuring a performance which has all the baffling mysticism of the Orient. Hull


At Accrington to-day, George Kiyoshi Takase, a Japanese music-hall artiste, described as a magician, of Morant-street, Brixton, London, was summoned by his wife Fanny Takase, of Portland-street, Accrington, for desertion. Mr. F. Rowland represented complainant. and Mr. R. Kidd Whitaker defended.

Mr. Rowland said the parties were married on December 17th, 1913, at the registry office at Haslingden. Defendant was an illusionist earning about £20 a week. There was one child. At first, for about twelve months, the wife lived with her parents, and the defendant followed his engagements about the country. that time she was pressing him to find a home for her, and about January 15th, this year, she went to London and he found lodgings for her with him for about a fortnight and afterwards took a flat in Brixton. The first week he gave her 30s. for household expenses, the second week 12s., and so on for about six weeks, when he went away to an engagement at Tredegar in Wales.

He left her with only 10s. with which to keep herself and the baby. She had to pay 5s. to the milkman, and to pay for two bags of coal, so that she had only a shilling left to provide food for herself and child. Mrs. Takase therefore sent her husband a wire, stating that she was without money, and on the Tuesday she wrote that she had no money to live on. She received no reply till Saturday, and then the reply was to some friends of defendant’s, who sent up for her and gave her 8s. On the Sunday her husband returned and wanted an account of the 8s. and he afterwards bought in provisions for the following week. On the Tuesday following her husband told her he would not keep her any longer, and said she could earn her own living. She went to her former lodgings and wired to her mother, and her mother sent her a sovereign, which her husband, who had received the letter passed on to her. She went to Accrington and then back to London, and subsequently to Birkenhead, where her husband was engaged. Mr. Rowland said that when Mrs. Takase was at the flat she found some letters addressed to her husband, which he (Mr. Rowland) proposed to read.

Mr Whitaker asked that they should not be read at that stage. He thought the parties might be induced to come together. They were young people, both with good characters.

The parties retired with their advocates, but after an absence of some minutes returned with the notification to the Bench that an accommodation had not been reached.

Mr. Rowland read the letters mentioned earlier in the case.

Complainant gave evidence bearing out Mr. Rowland’s opening statement.

Cross examined by Mr. Whitaker, she said that before she was married she was a laundry employee, and earned £1 per week. They had had quarrels from time to time. She admitted she had no serious complaint to make beyond that her husband failed to make her a regular allowance per week for household expenses.

Mr. Whitaker: Supposing he said now that he was prepared to allow you something regularly every week the difficulty would be met?

Complainant: I don’t know what to do.

Mr. Rowland said unless the man was prepared to pledge himself to give a reasonable sum per week and until the man understood our customs and knew lie was to support his wife it was hopeless. His (Mr. Rowland’s) view was that the case would be best met by making an adequate allowance to the woman and letting them try and see whether the husband would make the payment for so long, and at the end of that time she would have an opportunity of going to him and putting an end to the order.

Mr. Whitaker said the question was what was a reasonable sum. Mr. Rowland had mentioned £2O per week as defendant’s salary. That was a distorted idea. His engagements were not regular, his salary was £9 a week, and out of that he had to pay two assistants and his travelling expenses.

Another retirement was made without a settlement being reached.

Mr. Whitaker resumed big cross-examination, and complainant said that when she went to her husband at Birkenhead he told her to go home to Accrington. He said he could not shame to walk out with her as she was not smart enough, so she took him at his word. She could do nothing right for him. Her husband had complained, as she asserted, without justification, of her being dirty, of having neglected the child and of having been extravagant. She never got any money to be extravagant with.

By Mr. Rowland She left her husband because he would not. allow her a wage. Since she left him at Birkenhead he had never communicated with her until that morning.

Defendant went into the box, and told the court that sometimes he got £12 and sometimes £9 a week, but out of that he had to pay agent’s fees, and £5 to two assistants. His next engagement was at Galashiels, then at Glasgow and Edinburgh, and from May to August he was unbooked. Engagements were better to get in winter. Since the war started artistes had worked on the co-operative principle, and sometimes he had received a composition of 9s. or 13s. in the pound. He explained that he had to buy food and do the cooking himself. He did not tell his wife to go back to Accrington, but expected she would have gone back to the flat in London. He had not communicated with his wife because he thought she ought to have gone to London and not to Accrington.

In reply to Mr. Rowland defendant admitted he had not bought his wife any clothes. The Bench granted a separation order, carrying £1 per week.

Lancashire Evening Post 28 April 1915

1916 December – wife Fanny dies of acute phthisis (tuberculosis), aged 22.

1917 February – Was supposed to depart for Buenos Aires with Say Maki and Osui Maki ( Otake and Tannaker Buhicrosan’s youngest daughter) but the ship on which they were booked, the Deseado, was damaged by enemy action off Ireland in the Atlantic in January. It did arrive in Buenos Aires in March 1917 but Takase and the Makis were not on it.

1918 – performing in Dublin, Exeter, Rugby

1919 January – Takase in a speciality Japanese act, presents a number of clever and interesting tricks, and afterwards indulges in an artistic dancing act. Newark

1920 Kiyoshi Takase is Ho Pin, an opium den manager, in The Yellow Claw – a silent film. Detective and thriller. How a French Detective solves the connection between a murder and a chain of opium dens run by a mysterious man. Directed by Rene Plaisetty. Filmed at Cricklewood Studios. “The character of the little Chinaman is being played by Kiyoshi Takase, a Japanese who plays in pictures for the first time. ” Kinematograph Weekly 14 October 1920

1921 June – census – widowed, music hall artist aged 31, living in Fulham with Edwin Giles, music hall manager and his wife, music hall attendant, Florence and their daughter Olivette, music hall artist. Daughter Lilian is living with Fanny’s parents.

1922 July – Takase conjurer and dancer

1922 in Cocaine. A drug king kills a criminal for giving cocaine to his teenage daughter.

1925 in “A Girl of London” An MP’s disowned son weds a factory girl and saves her from her stepfather’s dope den.

1926 Takase is in The Qualified Adventurer In the South Seas a Chinese cook who helps a writer to thwart a mutiny is actually a Manchu prince.

1927 July – Takase Conjurer and dancer in Edinburgh

1927 October – “Takase, the Japanese film actor, is a mystery man and an expert dancer. We must give him ”thumbs up” for his clever thumb trick” Forfar Dispatch

1928 October

Ho Fang Drops His Snakes

I was delighted to meet Kiyoshi Takase – much more English in manner than his name suggests—who, you will remember, was cast by Nettlefold for Walter Forde’s thriller ” The Silent House.” Thank goodness he had discarded his writhing snakes! Mr. Takase, who is really Japanese, played the part of Ho Fang, the uncannily faithful little Chinese who is one of the most interesting and important characters in the whole drama. I believe, when the film is shown, we shall see some very fine work by this pleasant little fellow, who will no doubt be worth much more after the trade show than before.

Mr Takase’s work is good and I predict that he will make a big name in Eastern characterisation. (The Bioscope 3 October 1928)

The Bioscope 12 December 1928
The Bioscope 12 December 1928

1929 – Kiyoshi Takase is a Chinese servant Ho Fang, in The Silent House, a stage play from 1928 made into a silent film, directed by Walter Forde. (See photo above) A Mandarin hypnotises his partner’s daughter to locate hidden bonds. Takase “is obviously a discovery, and should soon be given a big chance in an equally suitable story.” The Bioscope 30 January 1929

1929 “that clever little Oriental, Kiyoshi Takase” – The Bioscope 9 January

1929 April – Takase plays Kato in “Before Midnight” at the Little theatre in London.

Takase “the Japanese juggler” knew George Pickett, the author of The Silent House, from when they were both in music hall together. (The Daily News 22 May 1929)

1929 August – Takase is one of the five members of the Japanese brotherhood in “Typhoon” a stage play at the Palace, Manchester. The production then goes on tour.

1929 “A clever Japanese actor, Kyoshi Takase. are among the chief members of a cast which, while mainly British, include more than two hundred genuine Chinamen from Limehouse, who add a touch of vivid realism to certain episodes.” (Bexhill-on-Sea Observer 28 September 1929)

1929 – Takase is the arms manufacturer’s henchman in High Treason. Women unite to prevent financiers from engineering a second world war.

1929 “that brilliant little Japanese actor, Kyoshi Takase” Kinematograph Weekly – 7 November 1929

The first appearance of a Japanese actor in on English talking film is that of Kyoshi Takase, in the Archibald Nettlefold production ” Red Pearls.” Although Takase speaks English with a slight accent, it is said that his voice records perfectly, and that his pronunciation of several words is very attractive. Takase himself is quite a romantic figure. He left Japan to seek a fortune for himself when only 12 years of age. He was then a member of the Ten Ichi troupe of jugglers. After touring England and America he found himself stranded, and worked as a restaurant cashier until he managed to join another troupe of jugglers. George Pickett first gave him an opportunity to appear on the dramatic stage when he cast him for a leading part in ” The Silent House” (Leicester Chronicle, 29 November 1929)

1930 – Takase is Tamira in Red Pearls. A Japanese merchant attempts to drive one of his rivals mad by impersonating a man he had once murdered.

2 page review in The Tatler, pp 22-3 1 January 1930 of “The Typhoon” at the Duchess Theatre, London.

Red Pearls review: Mysterious letters “are a formidable weapon of retribution in the hands of a Japanese, a part played with skill and imagination by Kyoshi Takase, who, indeed, steals the acting honours of the picture” The Sketch 9 July 1930

“Midnight” in production preview: “Other important members of the cast are… Kiyoshi Takase as the hero’s Chinese manservant. Takase is one of the cleverest of Japanese actors. He has had a long and interesting stage and screen career. His apologies to the hero when he upsets a glass of whisky in this talkie will be spoken in Chinese.” Blyth News 27th November 1930.

1931 Takase is Ching in Midnight

“Kiyoshi Takase as Ching, the Chinese servant, produces sufficiently sinister expressions satisfy the most exacting” 28 July 1931review in Dundee Courier

1931- Kiyoshi Takase as “Chinaman” in The Woman from China. A jealous wife helps a Chinaman kidnap a lieutenant’s fiancée.

The Bioscope 22 April 1931 p 26

“Kiyoshi Takase, the sinister valetdresser, has had many shots of villainy” Kinematograph Weekly 30 April 1931

1932 Takase is Taki in Deadlock directed by George King. The story of murder in a film studio during the shooting of a picture. The truth is, of course, finally revealed by the camera.

Graphic January 9 1932

1932 Takase is in Stranglehold Story of an Anglo-Chinese man who wreaks vengeance on a man who has betrayed the woman he loved.

1932 Takase is Sato in The Man They Couldn’t Arrest The story of evil gangsters, their elusive chief and an amateur detective with listening-in apparatus.

1932 in The Missing Rembrandt as Chang Wu

1933 – Appears in vaudeville in Chester, Dewsbury, Worthing, London, Derby

1934 Takase is “entertainer at feast” in Chu-Chin-Chow. A version of ‘Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves’, with a slave girl foiling Abu Hasan who is posing as Chu-Chin-Chow, a mandarin he has killed.

1934 Takase is Phirous, in The Wandering Jew. Conrad Veidt stars as the Jew who urges Roman authorities to crucify Jesus and release Barabbas. As a punishment, he is condemned by God to wander the Earth for many centuries, enduring innumerable trials and tribulations on several continents.

1935 Takase is manservant/cook Ah Sing in Inside the Room. A French detective unmasks a singer as the murderer of avenging dead mother.

“While one of the most famous of all Oriental actors is included the production. He is Kyoshi Takase. and this queer creature’s acting lends subtle note of terror to the atmosphere of the film.” Portsmouth Evening News 28 December 1935

1935 August – Takase dies, aged 47, of an aneurism of the heart, coronary occlusion, infarct of the lung. “A film actor”. Buried at Hendon Cemetery and shortly after, a special section of the cemetery was set up by the Japanese Residents’ Association, with his name included on a memorial stone.

1939 Takase’s daughter Lilian was still living with her maternal grandparents in Great Harwood, Lancashire, working as a textile cotton weaver, aged 25. She married John Mercer in 1940. Lilian died in Great Harwood in 1983, aged 69.

More (in Japanese) on the Tokyo Magic website.