Showing posts with label theatre. Show all posts
Showing posts with label theatre. Show all posts

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Odeonza Theater Wakimachi


Located in the small rural town of Wakimachi in rural Tokushima, the Wakimachi Gekijo is a fine example of an early 20th Century Japanese theater.  

Due in large part to the bombing of most of Japan's major cities during  WWII, and also partly to the late 20th Century Japanese tendency to demolish “old” buildings and replace them with newer, modern structures, very few examples of historic theaters still exist, and those that do are to be found in similar rural environments, like the Kaho Gekijo in Iizuka, Kyushu, or the Eirakukan Theatre in Izushi, Hyogo.

The Wakimachi Gekijo was built in 1934 with a capacity of 750, primarily for kabuki, and other popular entertainments like rokyoku, a form of storytelling with shamisen accompaniment.  

 In the postwar period it was converted into a cinema, though occasionally other types of entertainment would be performed. With the massive rural population drain to the big cities the theater, like so many others in similar situations, became uneconomical to operate and closed its doors in 1995.  

It was scheduled for demolition, but before that happened it was used as the setting and location for a movie about a run-down rural cinema. Directed by Yoji Yamada, the man responsible for the very successful “Tora-san” movie series, and starring Toshiyuki Nishida, the 1996 release of The Man Who Caught The Rainbow (虹をつかむ男 ) sparked an interest in the cinema and led to it being renovated and reopened where it is now often known as Odeon-za, it's name in the movie. Occasional performances do take place, but it is primarily a tourist attraction now.

Open from 9 to 5 and closed on Tuesdays, entry is 200 yen, 100 yen for children. There is also a special reduced price ticket that includes entry to the nearby Yoshida Residence.

140-1 Nishibun, Mima-shi, Tokushima 779-3602

Tel 0883 52 3807

I visited early on the third day of my walk along the Shikoku Fudo Myo Pilgrimage, and the previous post in that series was the 18th Century farmhouse of the nagaoka Family.

Friday, December 9, 2022

Eirakukan Kabuki Theatre

Eirakukan Kabuki Theatre

Eirakukan Kabuki Theatre.

Located in the former castle town of Izushi in northern Hyogo, the Eirakukan is a traditional Japanesekabuki theatre open to the public.


Built in 1901 it is the oldest kabuki theatre in Kansai, and the oldest kabuki theatre in Japan still standing on its original site.


The theatre closed down in 1968 and was then renovated and restored and opened again in 2008 and while there are occasional perfrmances, it is primarily a tourist site now.

Eirakukan Kabuki Theatre.

All parts of the theatre can be explored by visitors, including te stage and backstage areas. A highlight is going underneath the stage to see how the revolving stage, the mawari-butai, is operated.

Eirakukan Kabuki Theatre Japan.

There is a lot of advertising, inside and out, not just for the famous kabuki actors, but mostly for the sponsors and local companies.

Eirakukan Kabuki Theatre.

I was maybe not as impressed as many visitors, probably because I had previously visited a couple of larger kabuki theatres down in Kyushu. The Kaho Gekijo Theatre in Iizuka, Fukuoka, has the largest revolving stage in Japan, and the Yachiyo-za in Yamaga, Kumamoto, both are somewhat larger than the Eirakukan.

Eirakukan Kabuki Theatre.

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Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Yachiyo-za Theatre


Yachiyo-za is a traditional type of theatre that is located in the hot spring resort town of Yamaga, not far from Kumamoto City.

The ceiling is completely covered with advertisments, a tradition dating back to the Edo Period.

The theatre was built in 1910 and is now registered as an Important Cultural Property. Kabuiki and other types of performances are still held today, but during times of no performaces the theatre is open to visitors.

There is a small museum displaying costumes, props, playbills etc as well as an old projectore used to show movies.

Visitors are free to explore everywhere, including under the stage which has the human-powered rotating stage mechanism.

As Kabuki theaters go it is quite large, seating more than 1,200 people. By the 1980's it was long abandoned and derelict but it was decided to renovate rather than demolish.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Kaho Gekijo Theatre, Iizuka

Built in 1931 to replace several earlier versions that had been destroyed by fire and typhoon, this Kabuki theater was modeled on the Nakaza Theater in Osaka, and still holds kabuki performances and other plays and concerts.

For a provincial theater it is quite large, seating up to 1200 people. It claims to have the largest revolving stage in Japan, moved manually by 12 men. Visitors can explore the understage area as well as props room and other exhibitions.

There was once a total of 48 theaters serving this area known as Chikugo, but this is the only one remaining. Though Iizuka grew from being a post station on the Nagasaki Kaido, it flourished as the center of a massive coal industry starting in the Meiji period.

The coal industry was closed down, not because the coal ran out, but because the government mandarins chose to focus on cheap middle eastern oil, cheaper coal imports,  and then cheap nuclear for the country's power.