Comedian Kōji Nakamoto Dead After Being Struck by Car

Comedian Koji Nakamoto was hit by a car on Tuesday and passed away from his injuries on Wednesday. According to a report by Japan News, the 81-year-old performer was crossing a street in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan when a car hit him in an intersection. He was hospitalized and died the following day due to an acute subdural hematoma.

Nakamoto was a veteran in the Japanese entertainment industry, known particularly for his work on TV as a member of the comedy group The Drifters. According to a report by NHK News Web, he was reportedly hit by a car shortly after 9 a.m. local time and sustained a serious injury to his head. Local police transcripts indicate that he was bleeding and responded drowsily to first responders. The car that hit him was driven by a 73-year-old man who stopped and identified himself to the police.

News of Nakamoto's death hit fans hard all throughout Japan. He had been a staple in the country's entertainment industry for years as an actor, comedian and musician – sometimes all at once. He began his entertainment career while studying at Gakushuin University, performing in a jazz band and eventually joining The Drifters as well. Nakamoto was a guitarist and singer in the band, and integral to its expansion into sketch comedy as well.

The Drifters became a national sensation thanks to their televised variety show Hachijidayo, Zen'inshugo! It aired on the Tokyo Broadcasting System from 1969 to 1985, and to this day it remains one of the highest-rated Japanese TV shows of all time. The show featured slapstick humor famous for bringing generations together, often in the form of sketches performed by cast members and musical guests.

Even after the main series ended in 1985, The Drifters continued to reunite for occasional TV specials and events. Nakamoto remained prominent as a regular on the TV show Toyamano Kinsan. Years later, he appeared in another drama called Sōrito Yobanaide and a third called Scrap Teacher in 2008. Meanwhile, he also had three prominent movie roles – Yawara in 1989 and Asako I & II in 2018.

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In recent years, Nakamoto was also active on social media, including some casual streams on YouTube. Fans are mourning him on all social media platforms and commemorating his long and influential life.