C09 Meiji : Reconstructed Theaters in Kyoto
"Ebisuya-za Gekijyo Gaikan"
O-ban, Stone block print
Published: April, 1895(Meiji 28)
Publisher in Kyoto
Ritsumeikan Art Research Center(arcUP5025)
The theater Ebisuya-za opened in front of a temple stood in a quite lively area in Kyoto, in March 1876 (Meiji 8). According to Saikyo newspaper, on July 19th in 1883, a part of the theater turned into a fire and 500 guests rushed to the entrance, and this shows the capacity of the theater.
When the theater opened, they mainly played Miburi kyougen (silent drama) or women's play, and this gained popularity. From 1872 (Meiji 5), because the regulation against theatrical arts and theater were eased, women came to stand on the stage again at Ebisuya-za, after the long interval since Onna Kabuki was prohibited in the beginning of 17th century. In this picture, there are also talking about actress, and it shows that Ebisuya-za was relatively progressive theater at then even. Therefore, newspapers often reported its success even in the depression years.
In 1896, Ebisuya-za theatre was reconstructed into three-storied building imitating Western theatres. Since Shintomi-za theatre opened in 1879, a hall, it's present a lobby, came to be set up in Japanese theatres as well. The caption in this picture says Ebisuya-za also set a lobby hall due to its rebuilding.
On the other hand, theatres were so insanitary place because people gathered densely for all day long, so that the authorities frequently stated the prohibition of business to theatres for outbreak infectious disease, such as cholera. While the lavatory in theatres were generally the worst cleanliness place, when it comes to Ebisuya-za, Sugimoto Gohei, Zanushi (proprietor of the theatre) of Ebisuya-za, exceptionally paid attention to sanitation of the theatre, so a news paper published in 1887 praised how his effort was effective for the audience's health. Addition to this, when the 1896's reconstruction was conducted, the theatre made improvement in sanitation.
In 1901 (Meiji 33), Matsutake& (it's present Shochiku Co.,Ltd) entered into the theatre as a promoter, and they advanced the theatre to flourish.
In 27 February, 1903 (Meiji 35), the committee of Kyoto for theatrical play reformation is organized, the proprietor of Ebisuya-za Sugimoto Gohei and one of promoters Shirai Matsujirou ( one of the board meeting of Matsutake&) was also the member of the committee. The administrate members of Ebisuya-za attended the meetings related to theatrical play reformation afterwards, this fact shows they actively took actions to it. (,)
Miburikyogen, the committee of Kyoto for theatrical play reformation