Yujiro Ishihara: Amazing Near-Death Experience of a Legendary Japanese Star Called a “Japanese Elvis Presley”

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This is a true story of a Japanese legendary star who had an amazing near-death experience.

Yujiro Ishihara (1934 – 1987) was a Japanese actor and singer who was later called a “Japanese Elvis Presley.”

His elder brother, Shintaro Ishihara (born 1932) is a Japanese author, politician who was the Governor of Tokyo between 1999 to 2012.

Shintaro Ishihara (born 1932)

Yujiro and Shintaro Ishihara are so famous in Japan that they are well-known to most Japanese, especially to Japanese who lived in Showa period (1926 – 1989).

However, the mysterious stories of their father’s death and Yujiro’s near-death experience are not widely known.

Shintaro’s work, “UNDERCURRENTS Episodes from a Life on the Edge.” published by Shinchosha Co., Ltd. in 1990 includes 40 autobiographical episodes.

Among these episodes, Shintaro’s father’s death and Yujiro’s near-death experience are introduced.

Here, I would like to introduce amazing stories of Shingaro’s father’s death and Yujiro’s near-death experience.

Amazing Story of Shingaro’s Father’s Death

Shintaro Ishihara heard from someone a weird story about his father’s death.

His father Kiyoshi was an employee, later a general manager, of a shipping company.

Amazingly, when Kiyoshi died, he appeared before his very close friend, Ms. Kouno who was living in Ashiya, Hyogo which is about 500 kilometers (about 320 miles) away from the place of Kiyoshi’s death.

Ms. Kouno was a mistress of an old family and once acted as a matchmaker for his father.

One day, Ms. Kouno was in the tea-ceremony room of her house to replace a hanging scroll with another.

Suddenly, she noticed Kiyoshi coming into the yard of her house without a guide.

Kiyoshi took off his hat and sat down on the veranda without saying anything.

So, Ms. Kouno spoke to him,

Oh. Kiyoshi!

What are you doing there?

Please come in.

Then she went to an inner room to take a floor cushion.

However, when she came back into the tea-ceremony room, she don’t see Kiyoshi anymore.

Ms. Kouno wondered why Kiyoshi showed up for a surprise visit without prior notice.

So, she asked her family if anyone entered the yard, but no one noticed Kiyoshi.

Ms. Kouno was so mystified by the Kiyoshi’s sudden visit that she contacted the Ishiharas in Tokyo to find out the truth.

To her astonishment, she heard that Kiyoshi was already dead.

Amazingly, Kiyoshi died at the precise moment when he visited her house in Ashiya, Hyogo which was located about 510 kilometers (about 320 miles) from Tokyo.

Was the man who visited Ms. Kouno’s house the ghost of Kiyoshi?

In this regard, Shintaro says,

It’s just like my father to have the courtesy to make a farewell visit to Ms. Kouno who had once helped him as matchmaker.

So, Shintaro believes that Ms. Kouno saw the ghost of his father at the moment of death.

Amazing Yujiro’s Near-Death Experience

By the way, when Shintaro’s brother, Yujiro Ishihara was on the verge of death because of dissecting aneurysm, he had an amazing near-death experience.

After 9 hours of surgery, Yujiro escaped death, but during the following week, he had drifted in and out of consciousness.

After Yujiro regained consciousness, Shintaro visited him in hospital.

At that time, Yujiro told Shintaro that he had a near-death experience.

Yujiro said,

They say I looked like I was in a great deal of pain during the surgery, but I don’t even remember that I felt painful.

In other words, it was just like I was half-asleep for a long while after the surgery.

Rather than feeling pain, I was always having various dreams until I realized that I regained consciousness.

Among those dreams, there was just one dream I’ve seen over and over again for a long time.

Thinking about it now, it was a strange dream.

What kind of dream was it?

Shintaro asked Yujiro,

I had a dream about a river somewhere, or more like a riverside.

I was in a location for the filming of some historical drama.

At first, I was riding a horse.

Then I found myself riding in a jeep with TV staffs.

We were driving the jeep on a spacious riverside.

Strangely, however long they drove the jeep, they never got to the other side of the river.

Yujiro got so irritated that he ordered someone who was driving the jeep to cross the river.

However, every time the driver turned the wheel to go over the river, someone else stopped it and thus the jeep turned back to the original riverside.

I well remember I kept seeing such a dream endlessly.

Yujiro said, 

That might have been the Sanzu River (River Styx).

But, everything including the river stones, water and the ears of Japanese silver grass was dazzlingly glistening white.

That was something really clear … just more beautiful river than any other river I had ever seen somewhere.

That is the near-death experience of Yujiro Ishihara.

Shintaro’s Friend Also Saw the Sanzu River

By the way, did Yujiro have a dream or an illusion?

Amazingly, there is another person who saw the same Sanzu River.

Actually, one of Shintaro’s friends also saw the Sanzu River during his near-death experience.

He was Kazuo Tamaki (1923 – 1987), a Japanese politician, a member of the House of Councilors and also director-general of the management and coordination agency.

Kazuo Tamaki (1923 – 1987)

Tamaki suffered from severe diabetes, but he underestimated his disease.

So, when he was dying in a hospital bed, he saw the Sanzu River.

According to Tamaki, he had a strange dream in a coma.

In the dream, Tamaki saw a whitish streamer shining like the Milky Way.

Furthermore, his eldest brother who died before appeared before him many times in the dream.

Tamaki’s eldest brother used to play with him.

He stood in front of a wall of the hospital room and lovingly said to Tamaki,

If you feel so much pain, why don’t you go across the river with me, Kazuo?

I’ll take you by the hand!

At that time, Tamaki saw something like a whitish river behind his eldest brother.

Then his eldest brother extended his hand to Tamaki.

Let’s go together!

Tamaki tried to take the hand again and again, but he did not feel like it for some reason.

I’m sorry but I have a lot of things to do here.

So, Tamaki stayed in the bed.

Later, Tamaki said,

I don’t know what prevented me from going across the river.

But, if I had taken my eldest brother’s hand to go across the river with him at that time, perhaps my life would be over.

That was a river like a white shining belt.

I remember I saw the river up close.

The Existence of Hidden World Beyond Each Person’s Experience

By the way, Takashi Tachibana (born 1940), who studied more than 300 cases of Japanese near-death experiences, points out that it is a strange point of NDE that each person has their own unique experience, but there is certainly something in common which seems to have almost the same feature or to follow the same pattern.

Takashi Tachibana (born 1940), a Japanese journalist, non-fiction writer and critic.

As stated above, Yujiro Ishihara and Kazuo Tamaki saw the same Sanzu River in their near-death experiences.

This curious fact may indicate the existence of some hidden world which is beyond each person’s experience.

Published on March 8, 2020

Written by OTAKUPAPA


  1. Shintaro Ishihara (February 1990). “UNDERCURRENTS Episodes from a Life on the Edge.”
  2. Shintaro Ishihara in Wikipedia.
  3. Yujiro Ishihara in Wikipedia.
  4. Takashi Tachibana (September 1994). “Near Death Experiences (Vol. 1 & 2).”
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A dad blogger who loves manga, anime, games. In this blog, I will introduce amazing Japanese spirituality and philosophy.


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