Toa Kinema (東亜キネマ)

Toa Kinema (Toa, established in 1923- purchased in November 1932) is a Japanese film company that once existed. It had studios in Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture and Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture, and produced and distributed silent films from late Taisho to the first year of Showa periods. It was established by a financial institution as a part of its diversified business during the era of Taisho bubble economy. The company produced a lot of movie people who represent the earliest days of Japanese film, including Shozo MAKINO who was called the "father of Japanese film."

Taisho economic bubble and the Kanto Great Earthquake

Toa Kinema' was established in December 1923 by Yachiyo Life Insurance Company, one of so-called 'Taisho bubble' companies, when it embarked on the movie business and purchased 'Koyo Kinema' located in Koyoen, Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture.

After Tokyo was devastated by the Kanto Great Earthquake occurred on September 1 of the same year, studios of Shochiku and Nikkatsu located in Tokyo were relocated to Kyoto. Similarly, players of 'Asakusa Opera' located in Asakusakoen Rokku as well as players and staff of the Sugamo studio of Kokusai Katsuei Daito Eiga rolled in this new studio.
Mikito YAMANE, who was the head and director of 'Azuma Studio, Takamatsu Azuma Production' of 'Katsudo Shashin Shiryo Kenkyukai,' a small production presided by Toyojiro TAKAMATSU in Tokyo, joined the company when it was established and became a director of 'Toa Kinema Koyo Studio.'
Also, Tatsumi IWAOKA, a camera operator who led Iwaoka Shokai, became the head of 'Koyo Studio.'

Before Makino, After Makino

In June 1924, half a year after its establishment, the company purchased Shozo MAKINO's 'Makino Film Productions' in Kyoto. "Makino Tojiin Studio" was renamed "Toa Kinema Tojiin Studio," and Makino was appointed to the head of both Koyo Studio and Tojin Studio. Since then, the company has produced a lot of modern films as well as historical ones under a dual-production system in which both studios were used.

As conflicts occurred between Toa group and former Makino group inside the historical films department of 'Tojiin Studio,' the studio was renamed "Toa Makino Tojiin Studio "in January 1925. Makino remained as the head of studio while Mikito YAMANE, who was then 31 years old, was appointed to the deputy head, but the studio was burnt down by an accidental fire in March of the same year.
In June of the year, Makino became independent from Toa Kinema, established 'Makino Production' and established 'Omuro Studio.'
Former Makino group of Tojiin Studio also joined the newly established Makino Production.
Yamane also joined Makino group, and in Tokyo, ToyojiroTAKAMATSU established 'Takamatsu Azuma Production' in concert with Makino's movement and it became 'Makino Tokyo group.'

After Makino left, 'Tojiin Studio' was renamed "Toa Kinema Kyoto Studio" and Masato OZASA, the manager of advertisement department of parent company Yachiyo Insurance, became the head of studio.
In 1927, two years after Makino group left the company, Toa Kinema closed 'Koyo Studio' and concentrated its film production business at 'Toa Kinema Kyoto Studio.'

Bust of bubble economy and Hankyu capital

In march 1929, Ozasa resigned from the company and parent company Yachiyo Insurance withdrew from film production business because it failed in publishing business and went to ruin. Thereafter, Masatsugu TAKAMURA, the husband of Makino's oldest daughter, became the head of Kyoto Studio and started to revive the business. In 1930, the company entered into a capital alliance with 'Takarazuka Eiga' which was established by Ichizo KOBAYASHI of Hankyu Railway.

In September 1931, 'Tokatsu Eigasha' was established as a company which was supposed to produce films on the company's behalf.
Takamura resigned as the head of studio and Tatsugoro ABE became the head of 'Tokatsu Eiga Tojiin Studio.'
Takamura established 'Taishu Bungei Eigasha' and 'Shoei Makino' with the help of Sanjugo NAOKI, a novelist and film producer.

In October 1932, Tokatsu Eigasha was dissolved only one year after its establishment, and Toa Kinema finally gave up to continue film production business and closed 'Tojiin Studio.'
In November of the year, Takamura of 'Shoei Makino' again purchased Toa Kinema and established Takarazuka Kinema at 'Omuro Studio.'
Thus, Toa Kinema ended its nine-year history. Tojiin Studio' was sold at auction and the site became a residential district in May 1933.

[Original Japanese]