The Footprints of Aso

Kaho Gekijyo Theater


Kaho Gekijyo Theater (Part 3)

The Kaho Gekijyo Theater is the only traditional playhouse that holds regular performances in Japan. Although it was catastrophically damaged in 2003 after concentrated heavy rain caused the Onga River to overflow, the Kaho Gekijyo Theater, which became an NPO, was rebuilt with support mainly from the Kaho Gekijyo Theater Restoration Committee.

Here, we would like to share the continuation of the conversation between Manami Ito, current executive director of the NPO Kaho Gekijyo Theater, and Masatoshi Kinoshita, president of Aso Yoshio Shoji Co., Ltd.

Manami Ito, Masatoshi Kinoshita

Kinoshita: Since the Kaho Gekijyo Theater was restored after the flood damage, I feel the people involved with the theater are taking the connection with the local community more seriously than ever. The children's camp, which has been conducted every year since 2005 as a commemorative event of the theater's restoration, has become an event that involves the entire community.

Ito: When the theater was damaged by the flood, we received support from many people, including those within the local community. We contemplated how we could return the favor to everyone who helped out and we came up with the idea for the children's camp.

Kinoshita: I think this type of activity is important when raising children in a community. One hundred twenty elementary students spend a night in the Kaho Gekijyo Theater. It's such a memorable experience for the children to play games in the theater, to turn the revolving stage, and to sleep on the balcony seats. But it must be costly to operate.

Ito: Yes. This program couldn't be carried out solely by those of us who are involved in the theater's operations. Nearby college students participate as volunteer leaders, someone came to teach traditional bamboo art and paper airplanes, local stores donated popsicles and sodas, and food was donated by Super Aso. We managed to hold the camp thanks to all the help we received. We are very grateful.

Kinoshita: During the planning stage, I was consulted about the idea of the children's camp and what to do about meals. So I made the suggestion of having a BBQ in the parking lot and thought the children would love it. I suggested that we would manage the ingredients."

Ito: Because Super Aso donates all the meat, vegetables, and yakisoba noodles for dinner, and the nagashi somen noodles for the next morning along with all the condiments, the children eat as much as they want.

Kinoshita: I took part in the BBQ once, and all the children looked so excited. When the children thanked us for the food with their big smiles, we were truly happy to have been of help.

Ito: It seems that the children who participate in the children's camp become interested in the theater after the experience. One of the parents told us that her children pay attention to the news when there is mention of the Kaho Gekijyo Theater.

Kinoshita: The camp is a good opportunity for them to become interested in this local cultural treasure and their love and awareness of their hometown of Iizuka surely changes. I'm sure the preparations and operation are hard work, but I hope you can continue to hold the children's camp.

Ito: Certainly. I'm determined to protect the Kaho Gekijyo Theater, which is loved by everyone, for as long as I can.

Kaho Gekijyo Theater
Iizuka 5-23, Iizuka City
300 yen
(Not available on performance days or the day immediately before and after performances)
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