Yoshiko Yamaguchi

This is largely a word for word re-post of reader John’s submission—unfortunately he doesn’t have an account with us, so I can’t put his name to it. —the Doc

One of the greatest beauties of the ’40s and ’50s sadly passed away on the 7th of September. Born in 1920, in her time she was a superstar, a singer and movie idol to millions of fans in Japan and China.

Yoshiko Yamaguchi was born to Japanese parents in Manchukuo (northern China), educated in China, and became famous as Li Xiang Lan (李香兰). Her songs are marvellous—one of the best is Suzhou Nocturne (蘇州夜曲). Her life was complicated by WWII, and after the war she went to Japan and acted in Akira Kurosawa’s Scandal. She then went to Hollywood, and as Shirley Yamaguchi acted in House of Bamboo, a 1955 film noir with great views of post-war Japan. Of course, Hollywood had to have her draped in a wet towel while stepping out of a very steamy sauna, and it is this image which appeared in all the movie posters. After Hollywood, she became a TV reporter/personality and a supporter of the Palestinian cause. She also served for 18 years in the Japanese Diet! While there have been several obituaries, the mainstream media appears to have largely overlooked this amazing woman. Unfortunately there aren’t many of her pictures around the net—here’s a tumblr.

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  1. Avatar of French

    My kind of Asian Siren! Thank you for posting our guest’s suggestion, Doc.

    I liked reading up on her- she accomplished quite a bit in her well-lived life, and was pretty attractive while doing it.

    There is a mention that she worked to highlight the cause of Americans of Japanese background who were interned during WWII just because of their ethnicity. This was one of the saddest times in America. I have visited some of these camps myself, and am friends with some whose elders were interned during that war.

    I love to see smart, beautiful and accomplished women serving government and humankind. Bless you Ms. Yamaguchi- enjoy your journey and thank you for serving.

  2. Quyen’s avatar

    WOW!!!! This woman is drop dead GORGEOUS! Definitely the same level as Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor.
    Such a beautiful soul…..

  3. Avatar of Basho

    Hats off to Asian Sirens for always giving us a wide variety of Sirens!! Yoshiko Yamaguchi is an incredible Siren.

  4. gunnar’s avatar

    pretty and classy woman!

  5. Avatar of Bubalabobo


    Well said, French. She was a beautiful woman. The first photo of her is mesmerizing. I don’t know what it is–the shadows, lips, eyes. Had this blog been around in her day she surely would have been featured, so it is appropriate to do it now.

    I enjoy the beauties-of-the-past post, more would be welcome.

  6. John’s avatar

    I want to compliment Asian-Sirens for a great posting on Li Xianglan: the legendary ‘woman of a thousand faces’, the finest singer of the 1940′s Shanghai era, and an individual who transcended nationality in both beauty and brains.

    There are some other tumblrs out there with pictures of her: http://yoshikoyamaguchi.tumblr.com/# being one of them.

    Another good site for info on her is: http://chrisroughan.webs.com/lixianglan.htm

    A good obit and 5 famous songs: http://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/music/story/five-songs-remember-the-late-shanghai-pop-diva-li-xianglan-20140915