Japan’s Oldest (And Most Famous) Hardcore Dragon Quest Player

Japan’s Oldest (And Most Famous) Hardcore Dragon Quest Player

Actress Keiko Awaji is proof of two things: video games have no age limit and even pretty ladies get old.

Getting old is not a bad thing!

It’s even better when you have something to look forward to, like new Dragon Quest games.

Awaji is a giant of Japanese cinema, but best known in the West for her role in Stray Dog, the 1949 Akira Kurosawa film in which a cop, played by Toshiro Mifune, has his gun stolen.

In 1954, she appeared in Hollywood flick The Bridges at Toko-Ri with William Holden and Grace Kelly.

Well into her late 70s, and with a resume that includes over 160 films, the actress continues to work—and play Dragon Quest games.


(Publicity Shot) A few years back, her love of DQ became public. “I won’t live forever,” said Awaji. “I’d like to play two more more games… I really want them to put out a new game once every two years.”

This past Sunday, Keiji Awaji appeared on Bakusho Mondai’s Sunday-Sunday radio program, hosted by famed comedians Bakusho Mondai, and talked about DQ.

According to Awaji, she plays through Dragon Quest with a save file she calls “Apollo”. Right before she gets to the last dungeon, she quits the game, and starts a new save file she dubs “Zeus”. The reason for this, said the actress, was due to the long gap between DQ games. She doesn’t want to blow through them in one go, but prefers to savor the experience. “I play the games over and over again,” said the actress.


(NHK) Dragon Quest IX threw a wrench in how she usually plays. “I wish they would’ve kept Dragon Quest IX the same—like they did on the PS2,” said Awaji, referring to the game’s single save slot.

To create her “Zeus” version, Awaji, who plays by herself, actually bought another copy of the game on sale. She didn’t seem thrilled with the game appearing on the DS due to the smaller screen size, but went ahead and eagerly snapped up the title. “What am I supposed to do,” said Awaji. “It’s Dragon Quest.”

Besides DQ, she enjoys other titles and used to play more Final Fantasy, but for the time being, the 77-year-old Awaji waits patiently for Dragon Quest X.

Culture Smash is a daily dose of things topical, interesting and sometimes even awesome—game related and beyond. (Top photo: Stray Dog | Toho)


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