NAGOYA – A cafe that screens little-seen movies and offers a comfy environment to sip coffee opened last month in Nagoya’s Naka Ward in a district once known for its abundance of movie theaters.
“We hope to show films acceptable for many age groups,” said Manami Ejiri, 48, who runs the Theater Cafe with Midoriko Hayashi, 40.
“We also want to offer an opportunity for exchanges between customers and between producers and the audience,” Ejiri said.
More than 20 movie theaters used to grace the streets of the Osu shopping district in Nagoya’s Naka Ward, but as customers gradually opted to stay home and watch television, the cinemas were shuttered, with the last one closing in 1989.
According to documents detailing the history of the ward, there were once as many as 23 theaters in the Osu district in the 1930s. Although all were destroyed by bombing raids in World War II, 14 new cinemas were later established.
“The area used to be crammed with visitors to the cinemas,” said Masakatsu Kato, 73, who runs a barbershop in the district. Since the closing of the last cinema, the district has become a major electronics shopping hub.
Ejiri, a cinephile who watches around 180 movies a year, quit her job as an office worker when she was 30, later finding movie-related jobs. It was through this work, she said, that she came to realize that a number of quality films are not shown at existing cinemas.
At the 55-sq.-meter cafe, located on the second floor of a building in the Osu district, DVDs are shown on an 80-inch screen. Customers can watch the films while having drinks and biscuits.
“We hope to offer a place for relaxation,” Hayashi said.
In April, the cafe focused on short films produced by young directors, attracting some 60 visitors over six days.
Anri Yo, a 36-year-old company employee in Nagoya, said: “I like to watch movies that are not widely marketed. The cafe is cozy, so I’d love to come here again.”
This month, the Theater Cafe will screen “anime” films for around ¥1,000, a price that includes one drink.