Chairman of Toyo Kogyo (Asakusa French-za Engeijo Toyokan Asakusa Engei Hall) Matsukura Hisayuki’s Asakusa Rokku Geinoden < 1st > “Prologue”
As the saying goes, “Fortune comes to the laughing gate.” laughter is as essential to our daily lives as water and air. For any age, for everyone.
The new series, which is worthy of opening a new year, is the story of Matsukura Hisayuki, who is the chairman of Toyo Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha, the parent organization of the long-established theater “Asakusa French-za Engeijo Toyokan” with a history of 70 years. While still a high school student, Matsukura helped with theater work and has continued to observe the ups and downs of Asakusa Rokku, the mecca for popular entertainment, for more than half a lifetime. I would like to introduce this fascinating life along with some interesting episodes by Asakusa comedians from the French theater.
Kiyoshi Atsumi, Toru Yuri, Shinsuke Minami, Shiro Ito, Hachiro Higashi, Kinichi Hagimoto, Takeshi Beat … How did all the comedians who ran up the stairs to become national stars appear in the eyes of Matsukura, the eternal youth of the theater? The exciting story seems to come out frequently!
Now, let’s talk about it carefully from now on. The story of Matsukura’s life is also a precious record of postwar popular entertainment. I would be happy if you could not only think about yourself, but also about the good old Showa period atmosphere and human touch along with the history of Asakusa French-za which was the stage of youth of young comedians.
◆His father, Ushichi MATSUKURA, and Asakusa Rokku (Six Wards of Asakusa) set sail from the ruins.
Well, where shall we start? Yes, first I have to tell you a little about my father. A country young man who loved theater came up to Tokyo to admire the world of entertainment and set foot in Asakusa … It all started there.
My father, Ushichi Matsukura, was born in Ueda City, Nagano Prefecture in 1905.
The house where he was born was a lamp shop that continued for generations, but as the electricity spread in the Meiji period, the business declined and finally closed down. Taking this opportunity, I decided to go to Tokyo to do a job related to a play that I had loved since I was little. It was just before the Great Kanto Earthquake. After getting a job at a movie theater operating company in Asakusa Rokku, he worked tirelessly from a clerk to the manager of a large theater called Sanyukan. In 1945, Asakusa was devastated by air raids and Rokku was burned down.
After the war, a businessman named Inaho Kusano, whom I met while evacuating, and my father returned to Tokyo. In order to regain the light of hope in the ruins of Asakusa Rokku, he made every effort to rebuild the theater called Mansei-za, which had been destroyed by fire. In the process, he met many people and the situation changed to an unexpected direction. In this way, Japan’s first strip-specialized theater, “Rockza,” was born. It started in 1947 when Kusano became president and his father became executive director. In the dark days after the war, people were probably looking for entertainment to squeeze their energy out. As soon as the theater opened, it was packed to capacity every day, and as a result of this success, Franceza was born in 1951.