Bungeiza demise

Ono Seiko and Aaron Gerow onogerow
Fri Nov 7 07:47:08 EST 1997

>> I reported on Kinema Club at the beginning of the year that one of
>> Tokyo's most famous and longest running rep houses, the Bungeiza, was
>> torn down.

To which Adam Gower asked,

>Where exactly is this theater, how many screens are there there, and do 
>you know how to contact Jinseiza?

Sorry for the delay in responding.

The Bungeiza was located on the east side of Ikebukuro station, a little 
bit to the north and towards Otsuka.  It was behind Bic Camera, for those 
who know the area.  That part of Ikebukuro is particularly seedy (there's 
a nozoki beya down the street from the theater and a soap land next door) 
and someone was even stabbed to death right in front of the theater two 
years ago.  I know woman friends who would not go there alone unless it 
was a film they absolutely had to see.  So one could blame its decline on 
location.  Still, it was always quite crowded, but mostly with older men.

There officially were two screens at the time they closed: Bungeiza 1 
(which was a second run house screening double features of recent films), 
and Bungeiza 2 (the rep house formally called Bungeiza Chika, but even it 
sometimes acted like a second run house).  But there was also the 
Bungeiza Le Pilier down stairs which was mostly used for small theater 
performances, unconventional rakugo, etc., but occasionally showed films 
which would draw smaller crowds (especially prewar films).  It only did 
16mm projection and there was no projection booth.

The Bungeiza building always seemed like a large beehive with goodies 
stashed away in its various orifices.  Part was a cafe, part was the 
Bungeiza Cineboutique, part was a poster store.  They tried to run a 
video rental store too and it was apparently the losses from that hurt 
most at the end.

I unfortunately don't have a contact address for them now.  Does anyone?

Aaron Gerow
Yokohama National University
KineJapan list owner
For list commands: send "information kinejapan" to 
listserver at lists.acs.ohio-state.edu
Kinema Club: http://pears.lib.ohio-state.edu/Markus/Welcome.html

More information about the KineJapan mailing list