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Kempt Icon: Toshiro Mifune

  • Najib Benouar

Toshiro Mifune

Toshiro Mifune never received nearly enough credit for making martial arts movies cool.

Not even after starring in 170 of them—the first of which was released while Bruce Lee was still in diapers. Or doing things like leisurely strolling down overcast streets in Japan looking like he just stepped out of an editorial shoot from a fall issue of Monocle 50 years later.

So we’re giving credit where credit is due, by bestowing upon him Kempt Icon status.

The man took a samurai-like approach to acting, dressing and beard growing. He could’ve copped out with props and fake beards, but he didn’t. He took the more intense route.


In fact, he spent two years turning down new roles because he’d committed to growing a natural beard for a Kurosawa film that took much longer than expected to shoot. And what a magnificent beard it was--but he cleaned up nice too.


He did wonders with a simple white polo shirt—whether he was on that chilly street in Japan or a sunny gondola in Venice.


He insisted on using real, razor-sharp samurai blades when filming, because it kept his movements focused and calculated.


It’s the sort of stuff that would’ve broken Tumblr had it been around at the time.