Yamazaki joined Bungakuza in 1959. He made his film debut in Kihachi Okamoto`s movie in 1960. In 1960, he appeared in Akira Kurosawa's High and Low (1963 film). He worked with Kurosawa twice more: in the director's next film, 1965's Red Beard, then fifteen years later, in Kagemusha.
In 1973, he appeared jidaigeki television drama Hissatsu Shiokinin and he played the same role in Shin Hissatsu Shiokinin again in 1977. He starred, as a trucker who resembles John Wayne in Tampopo (1985) as well as co-starring in The Ramen Girl (2008) with Brittany Murphy.