The Namikiza theater in Tokyo’s Ginza district closed its doors on nearly 45 years of film history Tuesday.
Die-hard cinema fans packed the theater, which has shown classic films for years, to view its final showing. Following the closure of Ikebukuro’s Bungeiza theater, yet another famous film house has disappeared.
The program for the theater’s last day of showing was “Bangiku” (“Late Chrysanthemum”), released in 1954, and “Okasan” (“Mother”), released in 1952, both by director Mikio Naruse.
Customers lined up from the early morning hoping to get one of the cinema’s nearly 80 seats. The first in line, a 43-year-old woman from Urawa, Saitama Prefecture, said that she used to frequent the theater as a student and that she wishes it would continue to screen films.
Muramatsu, a 70-year-old resident of Tokyo’s Bunkyo Ward, voiced similar sentiments. “Of course there is a sense of nostalgia, but this is an era when old things just disappear. There is nothing you can do about it. Still, nothing beats watching movies in a theater,” he said.
Namikiza opened in 1953, during the heyday of the film industry in postwar Japan. The theater gained a reputation for emphasizing the quality of a film in deciding what to play, rather than indiscriminately playing hits to increase revenues. For the past 15 or 16 years, the theater has shown double features of films by such directors as Akira Kurosawa, Yasujiro Ozu, Kenji Mizoguchi and Mikio Naruse. “The problem is the number of classic films is limited and planning what to show gets tedious,” said the president of the cinema, Hiroshi Yoshi, who decided to close the movie house last July. Reportedly the landlord also played a role in the decision.
Yoshi said he wanted to close the theater without much fanfare and that no particular events were scheduled.
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