The Footprints of Aso

Kaho Gekijyo Theater

THE FOOTPRINTS OF ASO - WITHIN THE LOCAL COMMUNITY

Kaho Gekijyo Theater (Part 1)

In the Chikuho region, many buildings remain that convey even now the remnants of the once flourishing bygone days of the mines, such as the mansions of the mine owners and luxurious buildings in the Machiya architectural style. The Kaho Gekijyo Theater, where even today many performances are held, is one such building that is known widely across Japan as a living cultural treasure.

The roots of the Kaho Gekijyo Theater lie with "Nakaza," which opened in 1922 (Taisho 11). In an era when there was neither radio or television, Aso Takichi's younger brother Tashichi took center stage in setting up Nakaza Co., Ltd. with the aim of creating an entertainment facility to recognize the services of the coal miners and their families. Tashichi set up a construction office inside the Aso Shoten headquarters and built the play house on land provided through a trade-in-kind investment. The three-story theater, which was modeled after the Nakaza Grand Theater In Dotombori, Osaka, increased the expectations of locals during its construction, and ever since the theater's glamorous opening performance by the Sixth Kikugoro Onoe, it has provided people in the Chikuho region with entertainment that at times makes them laugh and at other times brings tears to their eyes.

However, during the Showa era, Nakaza was struck by terrible misfortune. In May of 1928 (Showa 3), the theater burned to the ground following an electrical fire. The theater was rebuilt immediately, but in July 1930 (Showa 5), only one year after the new construction was completed, a typhoon struck and the theater was destroyed by violent winds.

After the theater was struck twice by disaster, all the investors withdrew, and just as the end seemed near, Takashi Ito came forward to help rebuild the theater. His decision was based on the desire to reward the kindness of the Aso family and other interested parties who, since the company's founding, had spared no efforts to help both materially and emotionally. Mr. Ito, to whom all of the assets were transferred from Nakaza Co., Ltd. free of charge, took out a long-term low-interest loan from Kaho Bank where Takichi Aso was president, and completed construction of the Kaho Gekijyo Theater in 1931 (Showa 6).

The rebuilt theater's scale was smaller with only two stories, but with its impressive exterior and Irimoya roof (hip-and-gable construction), a 16-meter revolving stage, and an east-west elevated runway, it marked its new start as a full-scale theater that followed the construction style of Meiji era kabuki theaters. The open interior space, which is constructed in a truss style using an 18-meter beam rather than relying on a supporting pillar, has a maximum capacity of 1,200 people. In addition to popular dramas, concerts, and rakugo performances, today it also serves as a cultural facility that attracts visitor from Japan and abroad.

Kaho Gekijyo Theater
Address:
Iizuka 5-23, Iizuka City
Telephone:
0948-22-0266
Tours:
300 yen
(Not available on performance days or the day immediately before and after performances)
Closed:
January 1, December 31
Parking capacity:
50 cars (Pay parking: 100 yen per car, 500 yen per bus)
* A city parking lot (pay parking) with a capacity of 500 cars is located nearby
http://www.kahogekijyo.com/

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