The man Hawaii fans know as “Jiro” was born Kiyonori Saito in Saitama Prefecture, just north of Tokyo.
During his college years, Saito was a member of the NLT theater group that performed the works of French writers. Saito also worked at various part time jobs, earning modest wages. During his lean years, Saito considered getting a regular job as a salaryman (Japanese white collar worker), but ultimately decided to persevere in his pursuit of acting.
Saito got his first big break when he was cast in the role of “Jiro” for the “Kikaida” series (Jinzo Ningen Kikaida) on the NET-TV network (now TV Asahi). Rather than auditioning for the part, he was tabbed for the role when the wife of the program’s producer chose his photo from a lineup of finalists, exclaiming, “He’s the one!” Before the series debuted, Saito was given the name of Ban Daisuke by the famous manga artist Ishinomori Shotaro. Ban starred in all 43 episodes of “Kikaida” (1972-73) and appeared in many episodes of the spin-off “Kikaida 01” series (1973-74). He is best known in Hawaii for his Jiro role in “Kikaida,” which garnered high ratings on TV, and drew an audience of 36,000 at a live Kikaida show at the HIC (now the Neal Blaisdell Center) in early 1974.
Ban went on to star in other superhero series like “Inazuman” “Ninja Captor” and “Battle Fever J”. He also starred in a number of movies, including the hit horror series Ringu (“The Ring”, 1998); Rasen (“The Spiral”, 1998); Ringu 2 (“The Ring 2” 1999); and Ringu 0: Basudei (“The Ring 0: Birthday”). The American remake of “The Ring” by DreamWorks Pictures was released in October 2002. More recently, he has teamed up with Kamen Rider V3 star Miyauchi Hiroshi in the movie production “Game Action” and “Shi ga Hutari o Wagatsu made Part 2 Nanaka”.
His autobiography Jinzo Ningen Kikaida, Jiro Tabi no Tochu de (“Super Android Kikaida: In the Midst of Jiro’s Journey”) was published by Kadokawa Shoten in August, 2001.
Ban continues to take special guest roles for movies, TV, DVD and stage productions. He is still widely popular in Hawaii, and appeals to two generations of Kikaida fans.