Mr. Kanzaburo in a 2011 dance drama, “Omatsuri,”
Mr. Kanzaburo in a 2011 dance drama, “Omatsuri,”
Kyodo News

TOKYO — Kabuki actor Kanzaburo Nakamura, who helped boost the popularity of the traditional Japanese art form, has died.

He was 57.

The Shimbashi Embujo Theatre, where he performed regularly, said Mr. Kanzaburo, as he was known among the Japanese public, died early Wednesday of acute respiratory distress syndrome.

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One of Japan’s most famous contemporary kabuki actors, Mr. Kanzaburo also played roles in film, television, and stage dramas.

Japanese television stations ran tributes to Mr. Kanzaburo, who won fame for his outstanding theatrical skills, both as a ‘‘tachiyaku’’ male actor and an ‘‘onnagata’’ female impersonator.

In July, he underwent successful surgery for esophageal cancer, Kyodo News agency reported, but later caught pneumonia. His real name was Noriaki Namino.