This came to happen by the suggestion of Akiko-san, always keen to teach us white boys about the many faces of japanese culture. Or something like that.
I in turn told my fellow swedes about it, and six of us ended up going. Six swedes, in an audience of maybe fifteen people, total.
What I knew of this event was the time and location, and that we were privy to a pretty rare viewing of a japanese silent movie.
What none of us quite understood was that this was an authentic japanese movie-going experience, circa 1930, and that four films would be screened.
The authenticity came in the form of a benshi, a narrator and voice actor who provided one half of the sound to the mute visuals (the other half being music, mainly traditional japanese stuff.)
After a brief introduction by and of Mr Raiko Sakamoto, one of a few now-active benshi, the first of three short anime was shown.
Taro's Early Training Days (Hinomaru Taro: Musho Shugyo no Maki) from 1936 is about a man named Taro who saves a princess from a baddy with a beard. Five minutes long and fun enough, it was interesting to see how similar it looked to the early Disney shorts.
Next up was The Bat (Komori, 1930), which had a really beautiful style and featured animals as samurai. This story had a pretty strong morale (although it was a tad bit difficult to catch its subtleties, due to the combination of Sakamoto and korean subtitles.)
Komori was drawn and directed by Yasuji Murata, who is also credited with the third and last anime short of the evening: Sanko and the Octopus (Sanko to Tako, 1933).
Sanko is a lazy fisherman who neglects his wife and fisherman-duties, and spends much time drinking and dancing (as one does.) When his friend Kuma tells him about a sunken ship and its hidden treasure, Sanko goes out to sea. There he encounters a stubborn octopus and… well, it gets a bit odd, but no less interesting to watch.
Another example of Murata's skill in animation and style, and a fine closure of the anime-chapter.
On to longer and more physical things, our main feature was Jirokichi the Rat (Oatsurae Jirokichi goshi, 1931)
Being the (apparently) only completely preserved silent film by Daisuke Itô – an extremely prolific japanese filmmaker – it features the very popular silent movie actor Denjirô Ôkôchi (who worked on most of Itô's silent films, and did several talkies with Akira Kurosawa) as Jirokichi, who is something of an Edo Robin Hood.
All voices were again provided by Raiko Sakamoto, which proved quite convincing (well, under the circumstances.)
All in all, it was great. Well worth the 1000 yen we paid to get in (and we got a funky pen too! It writes on plastic, we were told.)
Also, the other day I got lost somewhere between Hibiya and Mita subway stations. My idea was to go for a short walk and maybe check out some of Roppongi. It ended up taking about an hour or so before I found Mita.
It was great. I love walking.
Tall buildings somewhere in Mita.
Here is my carefully reconstructed path of aimlessness.
Hibiya is at the top, near the Imperial palace.