Japanese character actor equally adept at comic or seriously unsavory roles. Chiaki graduated from the University of Chuo with degrees in economics and commerce, but almost immediately found that his interest lay more with the theatre. In 1937, he began to study with the Shin-Tsukiji Gekidan ("The New Tsukiji Theatre Troupe"). During the Second World War, he served as director of the Bara-Za theatre company. Director Akira Kurosawa saw Chiaki in a stage production of the play "Dataii" (from which Kurosawa would later adapt for: Le duel silencieux (1949) ) and advised him to enter films. Chiaki became a favorite of the great director, who cast him in Chien enragé (1949) and nearly a dozen other films. Chiaki was notable as the good-natured Heihachi in Les sept samouraïs (1954) and as the comic deserter Tahei in _Kakushi toride no san akunin (1958)_. In 1975, Chiaki suffered a stroke. He recovered and in 1985 won Japan Academy Award for Best Actor in Sombre crépuscule (1985). The last survivor of Kurosawa's Seven Samurai title players, Chiaki died of coronary and pulmonary failure in 1999.