Chairman of Toyo Kogyo (Asakusa French-za Engeijo Toyokan Asakusa Engei Hall), Asakusa Rokku Geinoden by Hisayuki Matsukura < Part 2 > “Kiyoshi Atsumi”
This time, I will tell you the story of Kiyoshi Atsumi, who left Asakusa Franco-za and rose to the point where he was called a great actor representing Japan.
Before that, a little about myself.
In 1950, after graduating from junior high school in Ueda City, Nagano Prefecture, I went to Tokyo to help my father with his work. It was the heyday of the Rock Theater. Along with my work at the theater, I worked hard from morning till night helping out at a coffee shop run by my mother nearby. I used to go in and out of the back room of the rock troupe, so I was used to seeing the nude dancers’ sisters (laugh), but I was still a child at that time. He was a simple boy who loved baseball more than women. But my father, who loved baseball like nothing else,
“If you like baseball that much, why don’t you go to high school? You should try hard to enter a school where baseball is popular.”
he said. Thus, although I was a year late, I entered high school the following spring. It was Nichidai Daisan High School, the strongest baseball school in Tokyo at that time.
However, when I came back from school, I put as much effort into helping my family business as before, so my days were so busy that I had no time to sleep, but in many ways, I think my foundation was surely built in this era. Speaking of trouble, it’s certainly hard. But it’s hard to experience such a strange and exciting adolescence (laugh). What a precious treasure!
This is how I started my 60 year history of entertainment in Asakusa Rokku from the age of 15 to 82.
Kiyoshi Atsumi left a strong impression on me. I met him when I had just graduated from high school and started to work in earnest, but he was a comedian who stood out from the very beginning and had an unfathomable charm that overwhelmed everyone who saw him.
Kiyoshi Atsumi (Yasuo Tadokoro) was born in 1928 in Ueno Kurumazaka (present-day Ueno 7-chome, Taito Ward) as the second son of a newspaper reporter and substitute teacher. His career is a bit mysterious, but in his early 20s, he seems to have done something like a steak shop in Ameyoko or in the precincts of Senso-ji Temple in order to live. Yes, it seems that there was actually a time when Tora-san, who later became a successful character in his life, was performed on the ground. But as far as the weather is concerned, working as a dressmaker is no business if it rains. Well, I don’t know if any actor would have thought of such a thing … I wanted to be a comedian someday, and when my literary club member discovered that he had performed at the 1 million dollar theater in Asakusa, he became an exclusive member of the Franco-za in the form of a scout in 1953.
At that time, the French Theater was more and more popular for 2 years since its opening, and there were more than 10 comedians on the theater. The first chairman was Mutoshi YABA who later formed the ‘Derailment Trio’ with Toru YURI and Toshiaki MINAMI and dominated the theater world. He was an actor with unrivaled momentum, but it was the destiny of the popular and eventually he was recruited into the TV industry. Around that time, talented players such as Shunji Sayama, Kanichi TANI and Keiroku SEKI were competing with each other in our hut, but Atsumi quickly overtook them and became the second leader. He had the natural talent and brilliance to do so. In addition, he grasps the hearts of customers with his eloquent speaking skills from his days as a chef and never leaves them, so there is nothing to be afraid of. Once he got up on the board, dancers and the people behind him would gather together, and he would laugh like a customer while watching with the stage sleeves.
Atsumi’s attractiveness as an actor, however, was close to danger. He was rough, and he fought here and there, and he beat up young comedians, and he got on the stage with the audience. When someone says “Your performance is so bad!”, they say “You idiot! I’ll pay you back the admission fee, so go home now!”. However, this kind of fighting was a kind of performance, and the audience was very happy (laugh).
However, something happened to him that made him look like a different person.