Western-style theater for the first time in Japan, the Imperial Theater, realizing the dream of modernization of prominent figures in the Meiji period
Since located in front of the Imperial Palace and the heavy name of Imperial Theater, it may be received as a national facility. Although it is the direct management theater of Toho corporation, it used to be run by corporation Imperial Theater. After the Russo-Japanese War, for the industry and military affairs, Japan came to be respected by European and American countries, however, were behind for cultural facilities such as drama theater. Celebrities in the Meiji period was aware of the importance of modern theater in which state guests can be treated, in February 1907 (Meiji 40), established Imperial Theater corporation. Promoter was a big name politicians such as Itō Hirobumi, Saionji Kinmochi, Hayashi Tadasu, management were celebrities in the business world including Shibusawa Eichi, Nishino Keinosuke, Okura Kihachiro, Fukuzawa Momosuke, Tanaka Masanori, Masuda Taro, Hibi Ohsuke, Tezuka Takemasa as directors, and Asano Soichiro and Murai kichibe as statutory auditors, and Kyuzaburo Yamamoto took over as a manager. On the other hand, show managers who dominated the world of the play since the Edo period were eliminated. Renaissance style grand theater designed by Yokogawa Tamisuke with white walls and 1700 seats opened on March 1, 1911 (Meiji 44). In addition to the actors of kabuki and new style, such as Baiko ONOE 6th, ICHIKAWA Komazo 8th, Takeo KAWAI, and Ii Yoho, actresses graduated from the art school attached to the Imperial Theater, such as Ritsuko Mori, and Kikuko Murata acted on the stage. Imperial Theater trained full-scale actresses first in the history of play in Japan. Systems such as selling the tickets with the seat number in advance, the placement of the attendants of audience seats, prohibition of eating and drinking and smoking in the audience seat, which were not existed in the conventional entertainment industry, greatly influenced the style of the theatrical theater in Japan.
After the inside of the building was fired and destroyed by Great Kantō earthquake in 1923 (Taisho 12), transferring to the Shochiku new western films movie theater due to financial difficulties, Imperial Theater corporation was merged with corporation Tokyo Takarazuka Theater (predecessor of Toho corporation) in 1937 (Showa 12). Imperial Theater closed in 1964 (Showa 39) due to aging and reopened as a new theater in September 1966 (Showa 41), which continues to this day.
(TAMAKI Junichi Toho corporation General Affairs Department senior manager)