Born Yokoyama Yataro, the young man was in a theatre troupe in 1893 until in 1899 he moved to Tokyo to join another theatre company. In that same year the Japanese begin to use film cameras and make movies. The official first film of Japan was Pisutoru gôtô Shimizu Sadakichi (1899) the story of an escape from jail where Yataro played the role of a policeman. He next moved to Japan's Kansai region and participated in different performance groups. In 1912 he joined multiple film companies ending up appearing on camera in over 300 films. His last film was Chushingura (1962), which happened to be Setsuko Hara's final movie as well.