70130-0017 - Tomitake Theater

Yokohama 1900s
Tomitake Theater

Artist Unknown
Publisher Unknown
Medium Postcard
Period Meiji
Location Yokohama
Image No. 70130-0017
Purchase Digital File
Author

The famous Tomitake-tei theater (富竹亭, Tomitake Hall) on Bashamichi-dori, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, a stone’s throw from Yoshidabashi Bridge.

The theater, which was active through 1912 (Taisho 1), was owned by Takejiro Takeuchi (竹内竹次郎), who ran three other yose theaters in Yokohama.

Tomitake-tei opened in December 1878 (Meiji 11). One of the theater’s first performers included the now largely forgotten Australian born rakugo story teller and kabuki actor Henry James Black (1858-1923).

Henry James Black
Henry James Black (1858–1923), aka. Kairakutei Black I.

Black performed as Kairakutei Black (快楽亭ブラック), but was also known as Ishii Black (石井貎刺屈). His father was John Reddie Black (1826-1880), publisher of several newspapers in Japan, among which The Far East and the Japan Gazette.

During the 1880s and 1890s, rakugo was a catalyst in bringing modernity to the Japanese masses, and Black did much to disperse concepts of modernization.

However, with modernization becoming synonymous with Westernization, Black also warned1 that Japan might loose the unique facets of its culture. As a sample he gave the reforms then occurring in Japanese theater:

Theatre forms in my country England, and in Japan, are fairly different. Above all, there are gentlemen such as Fukuchi Gen’ichirô doing their utmost to reform the theatre. One of the issues is whether it is better to reform by adopting the Western approach, or whether the Japanese theatre is better reformed while retaining its uniqueness entirely.

Perhaps Japanese theater was the last thing that Black needed to worry about. Although much Japanese culture has been lost forever, most modern audiences will undoubtedly say that at least Japanese theater has managed to maintain its uniqueness.

Notes

1 McArthur, Ian Douglas (2002). Mediating Modernity — Henry Black and narrated hybridity in Meiji Japan (pdf), 219.

2 Fukuchi Genichiro (1841–1906) was a Japanese critic and author.

Published
Updated

Reference for Citations

Duits, Kjeld (). Yokohama 1900s: Tomitake Theater, OLD PHOTOS of JAPAN. Retrieved on January 29, 2022 (GMT) from https://www.oldphotosjapan.com/photos/829/tomitake-theater

I have a small favor to ask

Old Photos of Japan aims to be your personal museum for Japan's visual heritage to increase our understanding of Japanese culture and society.

Finding, acquiring, scanning, restoring, researching and conserving these vintage images, and making the imagery and research freely available online, takes serious time, money and effort.

We do this without charging for access, selling user data, or running ads.

Your support helps to make this possible, and ensures that this important visual heritage of Japan will not be lost and forgotten.

If you can, please consider supporting Old Photos of Japan with a regular amount each month. Or become a volunteer.

Thank you,
Kjeld Duits

save our heritage

Explore More

…

Osaka 1870s-1880s
View from Enokojima

A beautiful and extremely rare—I haven’t seen this photo anywhere else yet—panoramic view of Osaka from the Osaka Prefectural Office, looking towards the North East.

…

Kobe 1870s
View from Mount Suwa

View of eastern Kobe from Mount Suwa during the late 1870s, early 1880s. The foreign settlement is located on the coast just out of the frame on the right.

…

Kobe 1880s
View from Yamate

Kobe seen from a location in the mountains, close to where Shin-Kobe Station is located today.

Add Comment

A lovely picture! The theater is amazing.

·