Shōchiku Company Limited [松竹株式会社] By Fukushima, Yoshiko
Shōchiku Company Limited [松竹株式会社] is a Japanese entertainment gaint that owns theaters, film studios, production companies for motion pictures and theater, real estate, and other businesses such as music recording studios and publishing compaines.
In 1895 one of the founders of Shōchiku, Takejirō ōtani (1877–1969) became a theatrical promoter for Sakaiza. In 1900 ōtani purchased Sakaiza and renamed it Kabukiza and became a theatrical promoter for Tokiwaza. In 1902 ōtani and his twin brother Matsujirō Shirai (1877–1951) established a production company Matsu Take Partnership Corporation (renamed Shōchiku Company in 1937) and opened Meijiza (later Shōchikuza). By 1909 the company had purchased most of the major kabuki theaters in Kyoto and Osaka including Minamiza, Nakaza, and Asahiza. In 1909 the company purchased Bunrakuza and produced the first ningyo joruri [puppet theaters] performance. Following Shōchiku’s purchase and modernization of Shintomiza, the site of the Meiji era’s Theater Reform in 1911, the company began expanding its business in Tokyo. Ōtani was in charge of the company’s affairs in Tokyo while Shirai managed those in Kyoto and Osaka. In 1914 Tokyo’s Kabukiza fell under Shōchiku’s management, and by 1929 all kabuki actors had become affiliated with Shōchiku. Under the influence of Kawakami Otojirō creator of shinpa and Kawakami’s troupe actor Shizuma Kojirō, Shōchiku modernized the production system by establishing multiple ticket prices, abolishing the sale of food and drink in audience seating areas, shortening the length of productions, modernizing/Westernizing the theater building, and improving sanitary conditions in theaters.