Otani Takejiro

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Bust of Ôtani Takejirô at Kabuki-za
  • Born: 1877/12/13
  • Died: 1969/12/27
  • Japanese: 大谷竹次郎 (Ootani Takejirou)

Ôtani Takejirô was one of the founders of the Shôchiku corporation along with his twin brother Shiroi Matsujirô. Shôchiku today runs all professional kabuki theaters, and a major nationwide chain of movie theaters.

Born in Kyoto in 1877, he was involved in theatre from a young age, becoming the head of the Kyoto Sakai-za theater in 1895. In 1902, he and his brother Matsujirô founded the Matsutake company, combining their names to form the new company name. The company would later be renamed Shôchiku, using the on-yomi readings of the same kanji characters.

Ôtani moved to Tokyo in 1910, and soon acquired the Shintomi-za, Hongô-za, and Meiji-za. In 1914, he obtained the promotional rights to the Kabuki-za, and in 1937 he became the president of Shôchiku. After the end of World War II, he was active in working towards the recovery of the theater and film worlds, particularly in the preservation of the traditional arts of kabuki and bunraku, and the revival of shinpa. He was later awarded the Order of Culture in 1955. Ôtani died on 1969/12/27, at the age of 92.


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