Azuma Chiyonusuke

Aaron Gerow gerow
Thu Nov 9 21:26:22 EST 2000

Papers reported that Azuma Chiyonosuke, one of the leading stars of 
Toei's samurai films, died on the 9th of heart failure.  He was 74.

Most people abroad know little about Azuma, but he was one of the main 
stars, with Nakamura Kinnosuke, Ichikawa Utaemon, Kataoka Chiezo, Okawa 
Hashizo, and Otomo Ryutaro, of the Toei jidaigeki that for a time 
completely dominated the Japanese film world at the end of the 1950s.  
Azuma is particularly significant because his early hits like Yukinojo 
henge and Fuefuki doji were some of Toei's first attempts at 
medium-length films (40 to 50 minutes long) that would serve as the basis 
for their successful double-feature policy (until then, films were not 
released in double features after the war).  That policy would shoot the 
financially troubled Toei to the top of the industry, while also reviving 
a industry-wide tendency towards overproduction that would strain the 
business as TV made its appearance.

Some of Azuma's early films like Fuefuki doji have been recently 
re-released on video and, I might add, they make great entertainment.  
One can in some ways understand why Toei became the choice for many 
Japanese viewers in the 1950s.

Aaron Gerow
Yokohama National University
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