Voice actor Utamaru Katsura passed away on July 2, 2018. He was 81 years old at the time of his passing.
In anime, Katsura’s credits include Takizawa Bakin in Fusé: Memoirs of a Huntress and as himself in Rakugo Tennyo Oyui.
Katsura, whose real name is Iwao Shiina, is best known as a rakugo (comic storytelling) performer, and he was the head of the Rakugo Geijutsu Kyōkai (Rakugo Art Association).
He began his rakugo career at the age of 15 under Kokotonei Imasuke V in 1951, and he took the name Imaji. He later left the world of rakugo for two and a half years before moving and taking the name Yonebō to study his senior fellow apprentice Yonemaru Katsura in 1961. He changed his stage name to Utamaru in 1964 and became a headlining rakugo performer in 1968.
Katsura became the head of the Rakugo Geijutsu Kyōkai in 2004, and he began working as the head of Yokohama Nigiwai-za Hall in 2010. He received several honors in his lifetime, including the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold Rays with Rosette in 2007, as well as public recognition from Japan’s Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in 2016.