The Mikado Company (ミカド商会)

The Mikado Company (- Shokai, established on July 10, 1919 - Acquired on January 1920) is a Japanese film studio that once existed. It was the first company that Shozo MAKINO, the 'father of Japanese cinema,' established after he became a movie director. It was short-lived and was absorbed by Nikkatsu, but in two years later, Makino began to run his own business seriously.

Brief History and Summary

Shozo MAKINO worked actively as a movie director, first at Einosuke YOKOTA's Yokota Shokai from 1908, and then at Nikkatsu after the 4 company merger in 1912. But he desired independence from Nikkatsu. With promise that he would limit his movies to 'just educational movies,' he established this company on July 10, 1919, while still working for Nikkatsu. He welcomed Tatsuo HOSHINO, a member of the Inquiry Committee of Popular Education in Ministry of Education, as an adviser. This Hoshino is the same Tatsuo HOSHINO that first translated Maurice LEBLANC's "Arsene Lupin, Gentleman Cambrioleur" the year before while still working for the Ministry of Education.

Makino recruited Bansho KANAMORI, his former assistant director, as well as Taneta HANABUSA and Yukio HAMADA, his former assistant cameramen. He had KANAMORI script and direct 4 volumes of narrative film titled "Yearning for the City," and 2 volumes of short narrative film titled "Tadataka no Kikan Shonanko." He had Hanabusa and Hamada shoot these films. To film a one-volume documentary movie titled "Shojokai Hyosho Kinenkaishiki (Numakuma County, Hiroshima Prefecture Shojokai)," he sent Kanamori and Hanabusa to 'Shojokai' in Numakuma County, Hiroshima Prefecture (current Fukuyama City of the same prefecture). His actors division, except for Rihaku ARASHI, consisted of MAKINO's relatives: his daughter Tomie, his sons Masahiro MAKINO and Mitsuo MAKINO, his younger maternal half sister Kyoko, and her husband Ichitaro KATAOKA. All were silent picture films. These three films were shown at Tokyo Educational Museum (current National Museum of Nature and Science) located within Yushima Seido (Sacred Hall at Yushima) on November 30 of the same year.

Feeling the threat, Yokota of Nikkatsu absorbed the said company in January 1920, just one month after the release, and named it 'Nikkatsu Educational Film Department.'
Director Kanamori returned to being an assistant director to Makino, and cameraman Hamada returned to Nikkatsu as an assistant cameraman.
Hanabusa went to Tokyo and worked as a cameraman for a film under the sponsorship of Ministry of Railways called "Tetsudo to Kotoku" (railroads and public virtue), produced by 'Katsudo Shashin Shiryo Kenkyukai' established by Toyojiro TAKAMATSU around the same time as 'Mikado Shokai.'
Makino sought independence again and established 'Makino Educational Films' in June of the following year. Until then, he indifferently continued as a director for a film starring Matsunosuke ONOE at Nikkatsu Studio.

[Original Japanese]