A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said, "Ken Takakura is a well-known Japanese artist to the Chinese people who made important and positive contributions to cultural exchanges between China and Japan. We mourn his passing."
The actor, known for portraying tough guys, became an instant superstar in China after his movie "Kimi Yo Funnu no Kawa o Watare" was screened in Chinese cities in 1978. It was the first foreign film shown in China after the end of the Cultural Revolution, a decade of turmoil and political purges that began in the mid-1960s.
"It caused a great sensation that led to Takakura soon becoming an idol among that generation of Chinese mainlanders," the Global Times, a newspaper affiliated with the People's Daily, said of the movie, called "Zhuibu" in Chinese.
The film, featuring a plot centering around a false accusation, reportedly drew more than 100 million moviegoers, a phenomenal showing at the time.