Seeing the Japanese cinema industry and the  ‘jidaigeki’ genre through Jushiro Konoe’s career


6:00 PM - 7:30 PM


  • Time: 18:00-19:30
  • Date: Monday, 6 December 2021
  • Venue: HS436


The history of the Japanese cinema industry began in 1896; many studios would be established by the 1920s. Shōchiku, Nikkatsu, Tōho, Shinkō, and Daito became the five major studios by the end of the 1930s. Actor Jushiro Konoe made his screen debut in 1934, at the age of 20, when he was discovered by a small studio called Asia Eiga. The next year Asia Eiga went bankrupt and Konoe was transferred to Daito, where he became a jidaigeki movie star. This talk focusses on Konoe’s career as a lens through which we can observe the development and decline of Japanese cinema as an industry and of a peculiar genre of it, the jidaigeki or stories set in historical Japan (literally, ‘stories in period costumes’). The talk is based on the research I carried out to write my recently published book on Konoe’s career (October 2021).

Again at Daito, then at the newly established Daiei, moreover in his own itinerant theatre group, Konoe’s career went through several ups and downs following the vicissitudes of the whole cinema industry in Japan. After the end of the war, he signed a contract with Shōchiku in 1954 and played in many jidaigeki movies as supporting character or villain. However, he soon thereafter decided to transfer to Tōei, a studio established after the war which became one of the six cinema majors in the country. At Tōei, Konoe starred in many movies, but by the late 1960s, the studio stopped making jidaigeki films and started to produce yakuza-themed movies instead. Konoe, with the foresight that television would become the new main battlefield for the jidaigeki genre, decided to transfer his contract to the Tōei Television Production division, where he became the top jidaigeki star with his own TV series.


Takeshi Tanikawa is a visiting professor of Film history at the Graduate School of Political Science, Waseda University (Tokyo), as well as a freelance cinema journalist. After having worked for Nippon Herald Film Co. in the advertising department and as marketing director, he has been active in both journalism and academia, publishing nearly forty books (mostly in Japanese). In 1997 he won the prestigious 1st Kyoto Film Culture Award. He earned a PhD in Sociology from Hitotsubashi University (Tokyo); his thesis was later published by Kyoto University Press as American Films and the Occupation Policy (2002). His new book about the jidaigeki actor Jushiro Konoe has just been published last month.

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