Toshiyuki Nishida is one of Japan's most famous and beloved comedic actors. He is known in the West for his portrayal of Pigsy in Season One of "Saiyuki" (NHK, 1978-1980), a historical television soap that was imported to Britain and Australia, where it eventually gained a cult fan base; and for his starring role in the long-running comedy film series "The Fishing Maniac's Diary." The latter series was hugely successful in Japan, and it is the role he is best known for in his home country. Viewers in the United States, however, may know Nishida best from his role as chef Maezumi, Brittany Murphy's mentor, in the dramatic comedy "The Ramen Girl" (2008).
Nishida was born on Nov. 4, 1947 in the Fukushima prefecture of Japan. As a young boy, he fell in love with the epic, melodramatic swordplay movies known casually as Chanbara, that directors like Akira Kurosawa and many others excelled at. Nishida had an interest in joining the drama club as a student, but his inhibitions prevented him from joining. Instead, he joined a volleyball club in junior high, though eventually his interest in acting took over and he studied drama at Meiji University.
The vast majority of Nishida's work is known only to audiences in Japan. Besides his best-known role in the "The Fishing Maniac's Diary," he has co-starred in several popular television shows and movies. He appeared in the 1981 biographical drama "Edo Porn," based on the life of artist Katsushika Hokusai, starring international star Ken Ogata and directed by Kaneto Shindo; had a small role in Junya Sato's grand historical epic "The Silk Road" (1988), which was critically acclaimed the world over; and starred as the lead in the gangster comedy "Get Up!" (2003), a role that garnered him critical praise. In 2012 Nishida starred in the poignant drama "Reunion," directed by Ryoichi Kimizuka, playing a man who helps tend to the bodies retrieved from the aftermath of the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami.
Cast (Feature Film)
Made his stage debut
Starred on the TV historical drama "Shin Heike Monogatari"
Appeared in the film "The Silk Road"
Co-starred with Brittany Murphy in "The Ramen Girl"
Played the lead in "Reunion"