The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature will be available via subscription on April 26. Visit About to learn more, meet the editorial board, or recommend to your librarian.

Show Summary Details

Page of

 PRINTED FROM the OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA, LITERATURE ( (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2016. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 24 April 2018

The Reception of American Cinema in Japan

Summary and Keywords

Since the 1890s, Japanese movie-goers have engaged American cinema in a wide consumer marketplace shaped by intense media competition. Early fandom grew around educated urban audiences, who avidly patronized action-packed serials and Universal’s freshly imported films in the 1910s. During the 1920s and 1930s, U.S. cinema continued to attract metropolitan consumers but struggled in the face of Japan’s soaring narrative output. In the years following World War II, movie-goers encountered American films in big cities as well as provincial communities through the Occupation-backed Central Motion Picture Exchange. After the Occupation, U.S. film consumption began to slow down in theaters because of Japanese cinematic competition, but the sites of reception extended into television. The momentum of American cinema revived on the big screen with the rise of the blockbuster, though the years after the 1970s witnessed an intense segmentation of consumer taste. While U.S. cinema culture has become widely available via television, amusement parks, consumer merchandise, and the Internet, the contemporary era has seen renewed challenges mounted by domestic productions and alternative sources of popular entertainment.

Keywords: Hollywood, Japanese film, consumption, reception, cinema, fandom, hybridity


The global success of Disney’s Frozen (2013) is well known. In the United States alone, this CGI animation earned $400 million in addition to winning two Academy Awards. Its box office returns more than doubled in the international market, with earnings reaching $875 million after scoring big in such countries as the United Kingdom, China, and South Korea. But in no other foreign market did the film thrive as it did in Japan.1 Earning a surprising $249 million, Frozen became the most successful commercial film in 2014 and the third largest all-time hit in the robust film market across the Pacific (behind Spirited Away, or Sen to Chihiro no kami kakushi, 2001, and Titanic, 1997).2

Why did the film do so well in Japan? Reports from the trade press offer some clues. One reason, sources indicate, is that Frozen successfully appealed to multiple consumer demographics. Since the film opened on March 14, 2014, newspapers reported that the theaters became packed with families and children—the usual constituents of Disney pictures—as well as adult women, who may have been drawn to the marketing of the film as a “dramatic musical.”3 This owed in no small measure to the creativity of the local branch office—an industrial apparatus that scholars of global Hollywood have largely overlooked.4 Another reason for the film’s popularity was the soundtrack. Its main theme, “Let It Go,” not only became a big hit in the music charts, but, according to Oricon Style, it prompted “people throughout Japan [to] hum . . . the song.” Even more passionate fans uploaded their karaoke versions on YouTube and joined sing-a-longs at their local theaters.5

The history of the reception of American cinema in Japan6 must look beyond the film text and understand “the process of producing [textual] interpretations.”7 This process involves a close examination of diverse social, cultural, and institutional dynamics in the arenas of film promotion, exhibition, criticism, fandom, and audiences of different kinds. Far from neutral, these are sites of “confrontation between the semiotics and the social.”8 If one regards filmmakers as both consumers and producers of meaning, the film text also serves as an analytical source to better understand the politics of reception.

Although scholars have produced useful works on film reception, few have scrutinized the impact of U.S. cinema in Japan.9 This absence is surprising, particularly because Japan, currently one of the biggest film markets in the world, has long served as one of the largest foreign outlets for American movies. How, then, did the Japanese engage U.S. films? Who watched them and where? How did movie-goers react to U.S. films? Did they embrace or oppose these narrative products? How did American movies affect Japanese filmmaking? Did the practices and patterns of film reception change over time?

This study investigates Japan’s cross-cultural cinematic encounters in five blocs: (1) Early Cinema to the Rise of Universal; (2) From Interwar to World War; (3) the Occupation Era; (4) Hollywood and High Growth; and (5) Blockbuster and Beyond. Highlighting some of the key nodes of negotiation between U.S. text and Japanese context helps make sense of how and why a film like Frozen and a number of other U.S. films gained a popular following in Japan. A focus on reception can also shed useful light on the impact of American culture in Japanese society. Yet it becomes clear that the Japanese response to U.S. cinema was ultimately diverse and multiple, entailing enthusiastic embrace, ambivalence, opposition, and resistance.

Early Cinema to the Rise of Universal

Japanese audiences first encountered U.S. motion pictures in 1896, when Thomas Edison’s Kinetoscope arrived in Kobe.10 However, the reception of U.S. cinema may have begun earlier in the decade, as the Japanese press began to introduce Edison’s and other Western inventions in newspapers and magazines, prior to their arrival in Japan.11

The initial public reaction to the Kinetoscope is hard to gauge owing to the paucity of primary sources. But two revelations merit attention. First, it appeared to cater primarily to wealthier clientele. This might be clear in the relatively high admission prices, as well as the presentation of the device to dignitaries, most notably His Highness Komatsunomiya.12 Second was the “realism” of the moving image. One viewer, who witnessed the Kinetoscope in Osaka as a 9-year-old boy, recalled seeing “a foreigner randomly shooting a gun everywhere” through the peephole. As a child, he was convinced that “the screen flickered because the bullets were actually being fired,” not because the celluloid was turning.13

The big-screen projection of American cinema started with the Vitascope. Developed by Thomas Armat and marketed by Edison, this projection machine was acquired by a Japanese importer, who introduced it in Osaka in 1897. After the screening, the audience, according to an observer on site, reacted in astonishment for having witnessed a technological marvel and for having discovered unfamiliar Western customs—such as kissing—on the screen.14 In Tokyo, another Japanese entrepreneur imported the machine and introduced it at the Kinkikan, a rental hall in Kanda. Prior to that, a prescreening was held at the Kabukiza in front of its top kabuki stars.15

The sites of cinematic presentation in this early era were fluid and at times improvisational. In the absence of permanent movie houses, screen narratives were shown in kabuki playhouses, yose theaters, amusement halls (gorakujō), and other public spaces where traveling troupes performed. Yet within a decade after the Asakusa Denkikan successfully converted into a film-specific venue (in 1903), the number of cinemas started to multiply across the nation.16 The growth of demand pushed down admissions fees. In 1916, for example, ticket prices for cinemas roughly ranged from 10 to 30 sen—a price far more affordable than a show at a legitimate theater (such as the Teikoku gekijō) which could cost as much as 5 yen.17 Cinema quickly became a popular and working-class pastime. Theaters in the 1910s fostered a “vulgar atmosphere” (waizatsu na fun’iki) that, the police feared, posed a pernicious influence on women and children.18

The growth of the entertainment business provided an opening for U.S. cinema to saturate the Japanese market, but that did not happen immediately. This owed in part to the rise of Japanese filmmaking (as evidenced by the popularity of jidaigeki star Onoe Matsunosuke, for example), but more important to the prowess of European companies, led by the French producer Pathé Frères.19 American movies—serials and feature-length narratives—entered Japan by way of foreign agents who made pit stops in Japan to sell their products as well as Japanese intermediaries who purchased prints in cities like London, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. Japanese importers predominantly desired to distribute European films more than American ones.20 Not only was U.S. film distribution erratic in frequency and modest in scale, but the lineup consisted mostly of cheap “old productions” (furumono) from four to five years earlier.21 The prints were often of poor quality and paled in contrast to feature-length Italian epics and French literary adaptations.22

Yet American films gained ground in the mid-1910s, as European filmmaking began to flounder because of World War I. In 1916, Thomas D. Cochrane, the Far Eastern manager of Universal, secured the cooperation of Harima Katsutarō, an acquaintance whom he met in Singapore, to erect a branch office in Tokyo.23 This kind of direct distribution enabled the American studio to compete with fresh and clean prints (usually in a year after its release in the United States), pursue the protection of copyright, and engage the public with new forms of outreach.24 In setting up shop in Japan, Cochrane, for instance, invested funds to transform Katsudō no sekai (World of Action), a magazine for political activists, into a film-specific periodical and used it to advertise the company’s new releases with photos of their stars and highlights.25 For key productions, such as the popular serial The Broken Coin (1915), the magazine devoted a special issue (March 1916) and solicited reviews from readers (April 1916). The U.S. company’s emphasis on promotion helped shape a wider commodity chain that enhanced the exposure of its narrative products.

The arrival of new U.S. films piqued the interest of a growing body of consumers in the 1910s. Contemporaries note that the primary fan base of American movies, which were lumped together with European films as “foreign films” or yōga, came from those with educated and affluent backgrounds.26 For example, Katsudō no sekai reported in 1916 that audiences of The Broken Coin included public officials, company workers, and “genteel women” (ojōsama).27 Five years later, Gonda Yasunosuke noted that the yōga genre was “particularly attracting students and the intellectual class.” To this market observer, fans were “high class.”28 Yet evidence also signals that American cinema was enjoying crossover appeal, for instance, among families and children in “low city” (shitamachi) neighborhoods both in and outside of Tokyo.29 In a fan-drawn cartoon published in the February 1919 issue of Katsudō hyōron, a hat-donning student applauds at the intertitles of an American film starring Dorothy Phillips, while a kimono-clad, possibly middle-aged man claps at a shot of a car zooming on the road (in what appears to be a chase scene). The cartoon implies that educated audiences appreciated plot and dialogue, while plebeian consumers enjoyed action. Both men, however, possessed favorable views of the same product. A synthesis of diverse cinematic elements, American films, the cartoon suggests, appealed to multiple audience groups.

U.S. cinema seized the attention of Japanese critics and filmmakers as well. In early film magazines such as Katsudō shashinkai (1909–1912) and Kinema Record (1913–1917), yōga narratives enjoyed ample coverage.30 Kaeriyama Norimasa, a founder of the latter magazine, not only embraced these international imports with an “enthusiasm close to reverence,” but also called for the use of Western techniques (such as using the film script, close-ups, actresses instead of male onnagata) in Japanese cinema.31 This became the Pure Film Movement (jun’eigageki undō), a critical and filmmaking movement to generate “a new definition of the cinematic” largely by “introduc[ing] the filmic innovation of Hollywood and European production[s].”32 As a young director in the Tennenshoku katsudō shashin kabushiki kaisha (Tenkatsu), Kaeriyama pursued this agenda through such films as The Glory of Live (Sei no kagayaki, 1919) and The Girl in the Mountain (Miyama no otome, 1919), which earned critical attention.

These pure film reformers and others were not always singing unreserved praise for U.S. films. Often, European productions received higher marks for their storytelling skills, for example. However, U.S. studios impressed Japanese critics with the technical, business, and institutional aspects of filmmaking.33 This led Shōchiku kinema gōmei kaisha (Shōchiku), a studio founded in 1920, to dispatch its own personnel to the United States and hire cinematographer Henry Kotani, who once worked for Cecil B. DeMille. Inspired by Hollywood’s mode of production, Shōchiku adopted a department system to divide its labor, provided systematic training to its actors, and nourished female stars for women’s roles.34 One of its rival companies, Taishō katsudō shashin kabushiki kaisha (Taikatsu), enlisted literary writer Tanizaki Jun’ichirō (an admirer of Charles Chaplin and Mack Sennett) as well as Thomas Kurihara, who learned the art of filmmaking from Thomas Ince.35 Together, the two men made Amateur Club (Amachua kurabu, 1920), a film modeled after U.S. slapstick comedies.36 The flows of American culture were assisted by Tōyō kisen kaisha, a maritime company founded by Taikatsu’s key financier Asano Sōichirō, which had built navigation routes for commercial steamships heading to the United States. While seeking to churn out films that were exportable overseas, Taikatsu strove to “introduce the newest and most superior Western films to Japan.”37

From Interwar to War

The enthusiasm for American films carried into the 1920s and early 1930s. The era witnessed the sprawl of “Americanism” (Amerikanizumu) in “modern” urban centers, in such forms as jazz, baseball, dancehalls, and fashion design.38 This led one observer to note, in astonishment, that the “Americani[zation]” was evident in the fashion, makeup, and “every move of the body” that one could observe in public.39 U.S. cinema played a significant role in shaping this cultural phenomenon, with a “flood” of serials and feature films that far exceeded the volume of domestic output at the beginning of the era.40 The success of Universal inspired other Hollywood studios to begin a direct distribution of their products in Japan. In the years that followed, Paramount (1922), United Artists (1923), Fox Film Corporation (1923), Warner-First National (1925), MGM (1929), Columbia (1933), and RKO (1934) went on to erect branch offices in the hopes of expanding their share in the Japanese market.

The circulation and consumption of American movies revolved around the hubs of “modern” culture in big urban centers. The newest U.S. imports first appeared in prestigious “foreign-film theaters” (yōga senmonkan) that boasted cutting-edge designs, services, and amenities, such as the Hōgakuza (Hibiya) and Musashinokan (Shinjuku) in Tokyo and the Shōchikuza (Dotonbori) in Osaka.41 Some tent-pole films, such as Broken Blossoms (1919), Dante’s Inferno (1924), and The Ten Commandments (1925), earned special treatment as roadshow films, which premiered at legitimate theaters—the Yūrakuza and Teikoku gekijō, for example—before reaching first-run houses.42

In the meantime, films that ended their runs in roadshow and first-run houses “descended” into second- and lesser-run theaters. But for U.S. films, even those venues often appeared high-end in comparison to their equivalents for domestic productions. One such venue was the Shibazonokan, a “high-class” second-run theater that seated 2,300 people. A steel-clad, five-story concrete building in Tokyo, it welcomed audiences with a lobby, smoking room, and a dining hall. The ground level came with chair seating, so that shoe-donning audiences could walk freely, while the second level came with tatami floors to accommodate women wearing kimono clothing.43 This movie house generally differed from theaters that specialized in Japanese productions (hōga senmonkan) or ones that offered mixed programming (konseikan), which operated in plebeian districts, provincial cities, and rural circuits. Many of these outlets were converted from the traditional shibaigoya (live drama theaters), equipped with bookstands (kendai), raised platform paths (hanamichi), and shoe cupboards. In such “low-brow” theaters, patrons would typically take off their footwear, pick up a zabuton cushion and an ashtray, and sit on the floor in a place of his or her choosing.44

Fans who flocked to such venues continued to come from diverse backgrounds, as can be gauged by Ishimaki Yoshio’s observation that the movie-going body, by 1925, consisted of four types: “those who watch [the movies] to kill time,” “those who idolize the actors,” “those who just follow the story,” and “those who [seriously] view the movies” (eiga kanshōka).45 Although U.S. cinema undoubtedly penetrated these four perceived groups, scholars have argued that its core fan base in this era continued to center around educated (literate) and well-off audiences—most notably students who formed film-study clubs, young professionals (the so-called sararii man), and others who belonged to the “intellectual class.”46 This could be attributed to the higher admission fees for foreign films as well as the coverage of Hollywood fare via the expanding culture of print.47

Indeed, during the interwar era, cinematic news, gossip, and analysis became a staple in mainstream newspapers and magazines as well as specialized film and trade publications such as Kinema junpō (1919–) and Eiga hyōron (1925–). In these papers and periodicals, readers encountered the lively writings of professional film critics—for example, Iijima Tadashi, Iida Shinbi, Imamura Taihei, and Tsumura Hideo—who regularly practiced what Aaron Gerow calls “impressionist criticism” (inshō hihyō)—an act of “[n]arrating the impressions received during viewing.”48 These critics passionately engaged Western films and film theories, while often denouncing domestic productions as “lowbrow.” American cinema generally earned praise for its technical and storytelling skills.49

Yet American-movie patronage of this era still faced considerable limits. The main reason was Japanese cinema. If once overwhelmed by the influx of U.S. and European cinemas, Japanese filmmakers orchestrated an impressive comeback most notably after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. In the years that followed, Japanese studios, led by Nikkatsu and Shōchiku, not only cranked out hundreds of feature films each year; they also vertically integrated the business to protect the screen time for their narrative products. Japanese companies occasionally blocked U.S. imports, as could be seen in a short-lived boycott movement that erupted in 1924.50 But they more typically limited the exhibition of American cinema to “a separate tier of Japanese-owned theaters” positioned in big urban centers.51 In 1927, over 1,100 permanent theaters were in operation, but the yōga theater amounted to only 3% of the total (39 venues), and mixed-program venues 38% (418). The rest exclusively showcased Japanese films. Japanese productions overwhelmed their foreign rivals in working-class neighborhoods, provincial cities, and the countryside.52

Western scholars have long marveled at Japanese auteurs—such as Ozu Yasujirō and Mizoguchi Kenji—for their cinematic norms and styles that appear to fundamentally differ from the Hollywood tradition.53 Indeed, Japanese studios have challenged U.S. cinema in part by resisting foreign stylistic and technical influence—for instance—in lighting and staging.54 But the prowess of Japanese cinema, in actuality, owed a great deal to its adaptation of foreign content and style—particularly Hollywood’s—to varying degrees. For instance, Japanese directors, including Ozu and Mizoguchi, gained inspiration from the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Ernst Lubitsch, and John Ford.55 Popular comedians like Enomoto Ken’ichi and Furukawa Roppa strove to adapt the performance styles of Eddie Cantor and Harold Lloyd.56 In the 1920s and 1930s, U.S. genre formulas, such as those of sports films, crime films, and “sophisticated films,” were adapted for domestic narratives.57 One can spot the influence of U.S. productions in individual films as well. At the Makino Production, Inoue Kintarō, Futagawa Buntarō, and Uchida Tomu utilized American-style techniques (learned from Thomas Kurihara) to produce swordfight films such as The Serpent (Orochi, 1925), which scored big at the box office. Director Nomura Hōtei’s Three Good Men (San zennin, 1929) and Yamanaka Sadao’s Kōchiyama Sōshun (1936) are said to have drawn inspiration from John Ford’s 3 Bad Men (1926).58

The consumption of U.S. cinema failed to pick up with the rise of the talkies. In the United States, Hollywood studios quickly adjusted to the new format following the success of The Jazz Singer (1927), and set out to export their novelty products. However, in Japan, the talkies failed to spread immediately, as Japanese exhibitors hesitated to invest in expensive projectors and audiovisual equipment. The talkies also sparked the opposition of the benshi (professional orators), who continued to provide oratory for muted or low-volume screens.59 The coexistence of multiple formats confused the audience. Until 1931, when Paramount decided to release Morocco (1930) with Japanese subtitles, fans, to quote from Kinema junpō, “had no clue at all” about what was unfolding on the screens.60 The following year, the managing director of Fox confessed that the U.S. talking picture was “appreciated by a small number of students and high class fans” while “avoided by the masses [taishū].”61

In the meantime, Japanese studios continued to challenge Hollywood by adapting and appropriating U.S. practices. Following Shōchiku’s The Neighbor’s Wife and Mine (Madamu to nyōbo, 1931), one of the first full-length talking films in Japan, domestic companies accelerated their conversion to sound. After releasing musicals, period films, and comedies, P.C.L. (Photo Chemical Laboratory), a small talkie-film producer, merged with two other companies to launch the Tōhō eiga kabushiki kaisha (Tōhō) in 1937.62 Managed under a “rational” (gōriteki) producer system that seemed to emulate Hollywood’s mode of production, Tōhō pumped out a slew of jidaigeki and “modern” narratives that, according to Furukawa Takahisa, often appealed to fans of Western films.63

The biggest blow to U.S. cinema in Japan came from the state. Since the 1910s, local public and police officials had monitored and censored U.S. imports (as with all other cinemas), but the effort went national after 1925. Japan’s imperial expansion in the 1930s soon led to a squeeze of foreign imports. The Film Law of 1939 set a ceiling for incoming productions, and the volume of Hollywood’s releases plummeted from 237 in 1937 to 40 four years later.64 This regulatory move was aimed in part to shield the Japanese public from “undesirable” foreign influences, but also to urge the qualitative improvement of Japanese cinema in the face of cultural competition. Interestingly, even as the nation increasingly turned jingoistic in the late 1930s, Japanese bureaucrats lamented the “poor quality” of Japanese cinema in comparison to U.S. and Western productions, and urged filmmakers to elevate the form and substance of home-grown narratives.65 It was not uncommon for contemporaries to admit that “life and culture” in the West was more “advanced” than Japan’s, and that even the “appearance” of people in the West was “superior.”66 Perhaps for this reason, U.S. films, The Good Earth (1937), One Hundred Men and a Girl (1937), and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) filled the theaters when released, while colorful stories about Hollywood continued to appear in film magazines.67

Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 suspended the importation of U.S. films. During the three and a half years that followed, the Japanese government, in an attempt to use cinema as a propaganda tool, exercised overarching control over filmmakers and filmmaking. In his autobiography, Kurosawa Akira recalls that government censors regularly condemned “Anglo-American” (eibei teki) influence over the most trivial and marginal portions of his films.68 Yet filmmakers did not entirely abandon U.S. cinema. At Tōhō, one of the three companies allowed to operate during the war era (the other two were Shōchiku and the newly founded DaiNihon eiga seisaku kabushiki kaisha, or Daiei), Kurosawa and his coworkers continued to discuss and analyze American movies behind closed doors.69 One of his colleagues, Imai Tadashi, made Suicide Squad at the Watch Tower (Bōrō no kesshitai, 1943), which is staged in colonial Korea but involves a chase scene that invokes the Hollywood Western.70 In The Grand March of Music (Ongaku daishingun, 1943), Tōhō presented a group of musicians who supported the morale of the Japanese troops by performing concerts in the home front. The narrative alludes to Hollywood’s “music films” (ongaku eiga) such as Universal’s One Hundred Men and a Girl (1937).

The Occupation Era

American-movie reception revived after World War II. During the six-and-a-half year period following Japan’s defeat, Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, administered a U.S.-led Occupation program, one that involved the demilitarization and democratization of the former Axis enemy but soon began to prioritize the reconstruction of business and industry to confront the rising communist threat.71 In this controlled environment, the distribution of Hollywood cinema commenced under the Central Motion Picture Exchange (CMPE), which singularly handled narrative products distributed by the Motion Picture Export Association (MPEA), a “united front” of U.S. studios formed at the end of World War II.72

CMPE began its operation as a propaganda arm of the Occupation government before receiving a license to operate as a full-fledged business institution in 1947. Yet, throughout its existence in Japan, it pursued a dual goal of assisting the Occupation and maximizing the U.S. film industry’s returns. Relying on its offices in Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka, and Sapporo, CMPE, according to managing director Charles Mayer, strove to provide both “enlightenment” and “entertainment” to the Japanese public. It thus marketed Hollywood cinema as a “fountain of culture” (bunka no izumi), thereby promoting American cinema as a superior representation of “culture” and everyday life.

This dual agenda led CMPE to build its fan base around what Charles Mayer referred to as “the upper class” (jōryū kaikyū).73 It did so by spearheading its “fountain of culture” campaign with an array of prestige films, from Rhapsody in Blue (1945), The Lost Weekend (1945), to The Best Years of Our Lives (1946). American films were regularly released in first-run theaters, many of them named “Central Theaters,” in cities across the country—from large urban centers of Tokyo and Osaka to smaller provincial cities of Sapporo and Matsumoto. Venues equipped with the best facilities and services became roadshow houses. Perhaps the most famous theater of this kind was the Subaruza, which was newly constructed in the Marunouchi district of Tokyo. Defying convention, this two-story venue installed reserved seating, enforced nonsmoking, and required the mannerisms of “ladies and gentlemen” in an attempt to construct a dignified cinematic environment. The Subaruza also sold hefty programs that touted its feature presentations as emblems of “high culture.” Charging high admission fees, the theater attracted wealthier fans from the city and beyond. The press regarded Subaru fans as members of the “intellectual tier” (chishiki sō).74

These fans of the “intellectual tier” did not consume American movies only on an individual basis. Many of them took part in forming a wider fan community. This trend was encouraged by CMPE, which actively reached out to journalists, writers, artists, politicians, college professors, business leaders, and other dignitaries to build a loyal consumer body. Mayer not only hosted special screenings for these learned individuals, but also made an effort to develop a fan organization dubbed the American Movie Culture Association (AMCA), which, following its founding in 1948, eventually amassed some 10,000 members who joined from across the nation. Led by the likes of poet Haruyama Yukio, literary scholar Honda Akira, journalist Nakano Gorō, writer Hayashi Fumiko, and political scientist Hori Makoto, AMCA offered public lectures, published newsletters, took part in radio shows, and attended special screenings to promote Hollywood cinema and further Japan’s “democratic reconstruction.”75 Challenging the tendency of professional film critics to disparage mainstream film reviews as “outside film criticism” (kyokugai hihyō), AMCA’s cultural elites touted the political, social, and cultural significance of Hollywood cinema and treated it as a pedagogical tool to better understand what they regarded as quintessential American values, such as “democracy” and “humanism.”76

American-movie patronage was not limited to established elites. Students and young office workers—the beneficiaries of Japan’s new 6–3–3–4 education system—also turned into passionate Hollywood fans. Many of them ran “film-study groups” and fan clubs at their schools, companies, and local theaters. Others read and consumed periodicals such as Eiga no tomo (Friends of the Movies). Founded in 1931, this monthly film magazine had begun by featuring Japanese and foreign cinemas, but during much of the Occupation, it focused exclusively on Hollywood. Particularly after the iconic critic (and former CMPE employee) Yodogawa Nagaharu assumed the role as editor in chief, the magazine expanded readers’ columns and invited readers to join its “Tomo no kai” (Friends of the Movies) fan club, which soon founded branches in over 80 cities and towns. This outreach stemmed from Yodogawa’s lament that consumers in Japan appeared to be split between the elite minority (the “Andre Gides” in Yodogawa’s parlance) and the mass majority (the “Umons”—a name borrowed from a popular jidaigeki story). Through Tomo no kai, the editor in chief vowed to achieve an “egalitarianism of intellect” by elevating the cultural knowledge of the “Umons.”77 At these local gatherings, participants critiqued the movies, gossiped about stars, played games and quizzes, and even organized Christmas parties—as if to try to absorb and practice American traditions. Under Yodogawa’s leadership, Eiga no tomo encouraged youth participation while promoting Hollywood cinema as a fun “textbook” to learn about American society and worldly values.78

Contemporary accounts suggest that Japanese consumers responded to Hollywood cinema with enthusiasm. In 1948, Ningen keisei reported that “fans of foreign cinema,” particularly Hollywood movies, were growing in “large cities” as well as “small cities in the valleys.”79 In 1950, a total of 2,641 theaters were in business; some 300 theaters specialized in U.S. movies, while 800 others had arranged short-term contracts with CMPE.80 During the Occupation era, Hollywood’s share ballooned to some 40%.81 Its fan base encompassed wealthier and educated consumers as well as groups that CMPE referred to as “masses” (taishū).82 Supplied to them were Westerns, Abbott and Costello comedies, B crime films, and Tarzan’s adventure tales that often circulated in second-run, provincial, and rural venues, such as the Daiichi Kokusai Gekijō in Nagasaki. For a brief time in 1950, this modest 282-seat venue, which miraculously survived the atomic bomb, became an American-movie exhibitor. Juggling an eclectic lineup that included Wake of the Red Witch (1948), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1939), and Ninotchka (1939), the theater accommodated soaring demand by ripping out the seats in the back rows to cram in patrons as standees (the exhibitor later recalled that children, unable to wiggle out of the crowd, sometimes urinated during screenings). It appeared to have drawn audiences, “high” and “low,” from schools, film circles, small businesses, and blue-collar workers at the Nagasaki Mitsubishi shipyard, the biggest employer in the area.83

Hollywood and High Growth

The reception of American cinema continued after the Occupation but under a changing market dynamic. On January 1, 1952—four months before Japan officially regained its sovereignty—CMPE terminated its business, leaving each U.S. studio to operate on its own. Now competing among themselves as well as with Japanese and other film companies, American distributors catapulted a powerful lineup of feature films that boasted novel scripts, star glamor, and dazzling special effects presented in widescreen and Technicolor, from Shane (1953), Ben-Hur (1955), to North by Northwest (1959). As during the Occupation, these top-bill films were placed in prestige houses in part to attract the “intellectual class,” which would crave “high-end” magazines such as Eiga geijutsu (Film Art, 1940–) and Eiga hyōron (Film Critique, 1925–1975). Professional film critics continued to produce impressionist criticism, while an array of cultural elites—many of them new to the practice of film criticism—continued to deliver social and cultural commentaries about American cinema.84 In 1954, the American Movie Culture Association was renamed the Yūshū eiga kanshōkai (Organization to Appreciate Superior Movies). While reaching out to all cinemas regardless of national origin, this elite-centered organization extolled what it regarded as high-grade U.S. films such as Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and To Kill a Mockingbird (1963).85

The industry’s bigger aim was to draw the growing middle-class consumer body. Anchored around the youth, these movie-goers gathered at schools, workplaces, theaters, and public spaces to enjoy American cinema with their peers and coworkers. Many of these movie admirers joined studio-sponsored clubs like the “Paramount tomo no kai” (Paramount Meeting of Friends) and Metro Club (MGM) or took part in niche gatherings such as the Western Fan Club, Jane Wyman Fan Club, William Holden Club, and the Jaguar Club, which idolized Alan Ladd (the club was named after Jaguar Productions, which Ladd founded in 1954).86 The passion of general fans caught the attention of studio representatives. In a roundtable of foreign managers organized by Kinema junpō, one participant noted that “in other countries, the top criteria goes to star value, but in Japan, [fans are] very knowledgeable about the names of the directors and producers, in addition to stories and the casting. They possess great knowledge of the movies.” Another manager responded in agreement: “this is an astonishing thing.”87

The more casual fans adapted Hollywood culture into their everyday practices. For example, many young men reenacted James Dean’s rough-and-casual attitude and sensitive demeanor as an alienated youth (the memorial sculpture of Dean, erected in Cholame, California, was commissioned by a Japanese businessman who idolized the Hollywood icon).88 After viewing Roman Holiday (1954), female students and office workers imitated Audrey Hepburn’s pixie hairdo, dubbed in Japan as the “Hepburn cut.” A bank worker, who feared that she would “be scolded by the company” if she was the only one to adopt the new look, convinced her female colleagues to visit “the beauty parlor on Sunday” before attending “work together on Monday morning.” “The [male] senior director’s jaw dropped after seeing our hairdo,” the woman noted.89

Yet, if mainstream consumers increasingly embraced American-movie fare, the market was still a challenging one for U.S. studios. Part of the difficulty was caused by European art-house productions—for example, Wild Strawberries (Smultronstället, 1957), Last Year at Marienbard (L’Année dernière à Marienbad, 1961), and 8 1/2 (1963)—which captivated cinephiles who increasingly found Hollywood’s “big productions” (taisaku) to be both formulaic and monotonous.90 Japanese cinema posed a bigger threat. Once shattered by World War II, domestic film output expanded from 215 in 1950 to 547 by the end of the decade.91 As in the prewar years, Japanese films drew a loyal following in working-class neighborhoods, provincial cities, and rural communities—particularly among the youth. Following the breakthrough success of Season of the Sun (Taiyō no kisetsu, 1956), Nikkatsu, for instance, manufactured a string of “Sun Tribe films” that aimed to provoke (primarily male) movie-goers in the teens and early twenties. The critical success of Breathless (À Bout de Souffle, 1960) and the French New Wave spurred Ōshima Nagisa, Shinoda Masahiro, Teshigawara Hiroshi, Yoshida Kijū, and other young directors to shoot violent, sexualized, politically charged, and stylistically experimental films—sometimes dubbed the “Japanese New Wave”—that challenged and defied convention—both Japanese and “foreign.” Their edgy narratives lured students and critics who veered toward student protests and revolution.

Additionally, Japanese filmmakers continued to draw from U.S. norms and conventions. For example, Nikkatsu ushered Shishido Joe and Kobayashi Akira into stardom by inserting them in urban crime dramas and shoot-’em-up westerns, dubbed “Japanese-made westerns” (wasei uesutan).92 In Tōhō, Okamoto Kihachi, a long-time admirer of John Ford, shot Desperado Outpost (Dokuritsu gurentai, 1959) and Westward Desperado (Dokuritsu gurentai nishi e, 1960), which landed a gun-slinging outcast in northern China during the final months of World War II.93 Studios recast Hollywood musicals in Japanese corporate settings, as can be seen in You Can Succeed, Too (Kimi mo shusse ga dekiru, 1964, Tōhō) and Asphalt Girl (1964, Daiei).

But even during the height of Japanese cinema’s “second golden age”—a time when the share of U.S. cinema declined from 40 to 21%—U.S. cinema did maintain a strong following. This was in part because the number of theaters grew to an astonishing 7,457 by 1960.94 Fans also turned to television. As one of the “three sacred treasures” of a growing consumer marketplace, this new medium rapidly became a popular source of entertainment starting in the late 1950s.95 Often as cheap programming, U.S. feature films made inroads into the small screen and reached households nationwide. Families, children, and others enjoyed regular broadcasts of U.S. feature films including Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane (1941) and Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat (1944), which were never released on Japanese big screens.96 The “foreign film theater” (yōga gekijō) provided opening and closing commentaries by hosts such as Yodogawa, Ogi Masahiro, and Mizuno Haruo. These famous personalities helped draw families and other consumer demographics to American films by touting them regardless of quality.97

Ironically, the popularity of U.S. cinema and other programs on television helped break down the big-screen-centric mode of film spectatorship. During the 1960s, the volume of movie theaters shrunk in half (to 3,246 in 1970) and cinema-going declined as a popular pastime. U.S. studios, which struggled in general during the decade, dispatched high-grossing epics and spectacles, such as Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and The Sound of Music (1965), but their Japanese branches were forced to fire personnel, merge with rival studio offices, or rely on Japanese brokers for film distribution.98 The New American Cinema, represented by Bonnie and Clyde (1967), The Graduate (1967), Easy Rider (1969), and Five Easy Pieces (1970), captivated many young (male) fans, but Japanese companies also vied for the same demographic, for example, by way of ninkyō films and soft-core pornography.99 Oguma Eiji notes that scores of student activists in the late 1960s turned to Tōei Studio’s violent yakuza films (and Shirado Sanpei’s graphic novels) when not protesting at barricades.100

Blockbuster and Beyond

The momentum of big-screen reception revived in the mid-1970s thanks to the rise of the Hollywood blockbuster, which became the U.S. film industry’s main weapon for the next four decades.101 U.S. studios scored a string of big hits with the likes of Jaws (1975), Star Wars (1977), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), E.T. (1982), Die Hard (1988), Jurassic Park (1993), Titanic (1997), and Armageddon (1998).102 As Henry Jenkins notes, the success of blockbusters does not owe solely to the film text, but also to a sprawling “convergence culture” that is shaped by fans and multiple media platforms.103 Japanese fans became actively involved by reading and writing about the new releases on fanzines led by Roadshow (1972–1998) and Screen (1946–) and “information magazines” (jōhōshi) such as Pia (1972–2011). They savored trailers and spot ads on television shows, attended publicity stunts (such as the visits of stars and directors), and ran fan-club activities. They also viewed the new releases shown “in theaters nationwide” at local theaters or multiplexes, which have increased in number since the mid-1990s.

The viewership of American cinema continued to flourish on the small screen. The TV enterprise sought to draw audiences from diverse demographics by placing American films in multiple time slots104: midafternoon, primetime, and late night.105 The emergence of recordable technologies, such as Betamax, VHS, and DVDs, not only rendered otherwise inaccessible time slots available for film-viewing, but also triggered the birth of the software and rental market, which benefited U.S. companies.106 American films, particularly Hollywood blockbusters, competed with lower retail prices and special features (e.g., outtakes, alternative endings, production documentaries) aimed to stimulate consumer interest.107 The software market, particularly DVDs, became a gateway to selling B films that had either bombed or failed to appear on the big screen. In merchandising these less familiar narratives, studios devised creative tactics to draw fan attention. For example, the DVD version of Jackass: The Movie (2002), dubbed the “Collector’s Edition,” came with an audio commentary with young comedians from the popular Yoshimoto kōgyō kabushiki kaisha. The software version of Ben Stiller’s Dodge Ball: A True Underdog Story (2004) included two sets of subtitles: the “normal” and “abnormal” versions, the latter deviated from “normal” subtitles by exaggerating and localizing the humor of the film.

U.S. movie fandom was additionally constructed around amusement parks. This trend was set in 1983, when the Tokyo Disneyland opened in Urayasu, Japan. Largely modeled after the U.S. original, this immense amusement park offered rides and attractions that invoked a variety of imaginative experiences, from the frontier western, wild jungle and piratical adventures to light-speed voyages in outer space.108 Emboldened by the success of this attraction—drawing millions of visitors annually—Disney opened its first merchandise store in Yokohama in 1992 and constructed the Tokyo DisneySea theme park adjacent to Disneyland in 2001. Its chief competitor, Universal Studies, opened its own theme park in Osaka in 2001 and boasted rides explicitly based on its cinematic hits, such as The Terminator (1984), Back to the Future (1985), Spider-Man (2002), and the Harry Potter franchise (2001–2011). Hollywood culture dispersed widely through an inexhaustible variety of merchandise branded with screen iconography—from towels to coffee mugs, T-shirts, watches, candy, jewelry, and toys of various kinds.109

The sprawl of U.S. cinema across media platforms (known in Japan as “media mix”) in expanding commodity chains contributed to the intense hybridization of norms and values. Indeed, as one sociologist argued, since the 1980s, Japan has seemed to internalize American culture in full; American ideas and values are no longer “distant” or “high” but rather a core ingredient of its own national identity.110 Yet paradoxically, the era also saw a rapid segmentation of cultural taste, particularly made prevalent by way of subcultures. One such group emerged in the 1980s and avidly visited the “mini-theater” (mini shiatā) circuit, a population that craved independent and art cinemas that earned long runs, including many U.S. productions such as Stranger than Paradise (1984), Hotel New Hampshire (1984), and Down by Law (1986).111 Many of these niche fans may have turned to the writings of Hasumi Shigehiko, who, in pursuing what he pronounced as “surface criticism” (hyōsō hihyō), also urged readers to take a renewed look at the aesthetics and representations of neglected B-movies of classical Hollywood.112 Another group of young and middle-aged individuals (many of them men) formed the so-called otaku subculture, which has thrived on manga, anime, video games, plastic figure dolls, and costume play. According to cultural critic Azuma Hiroki, this subcultural group has striven to create a “pseudo-Japan” in part through the appropriation of American cinema and popular culture.113

The trend toward cultural diffusion and segmentation accelerated in the 1990s and 2000s in a climate of neoliberal deregulation. It additionally owed to the Internet, which enabled these subcultural fans, together with their mainstream counterparts, to express their opinions in chat groups, emails, and discussion boards, and on social media. In this era of endless media crossover and exchange, cultural consumption was no longer strictly shaped by “national” boundaries. For example, in an attempt to understand fan reactions to The Last Samurai (2003), one media scholar studied the postings on Yahoo!Japan’s discussion board. The results were rather unexpected: a number of viewers were moved by its “nostalgic” portrayal of Japan’s lost past and felt “national pride” by encountering the chivalric antics of Tom Cruise, a U.S. Civil War veteran who joins a group of samurai men on their last stand against the Meiji government.114 In looking back nostalgically at the Shōwa era, consumers are not only turning to exclusively national formations (if such a thing exists), but also engaging Hollywood productions to reimagine a missing sense of self.115

Popular reactions to The Last Samurai point to the diverse and entwined motivations that sustain the reception of U.S. cinema. They also suggest abundance. In 1975, the earnings from domestic productions dipped to under 50% of the market share, and yōga films, led by Hollywood, went on to claim the dominant share.116 Four years later, Japan became the largest foreign market for U.S. studios.117 Even though China surpassed Japan as the largest national consumer of American cinema in 2010, its reception in Japan remains lively and intense—as one might gather from the popularity of films like Frozen. However, Japanese cinema has made yet another comeback, thanks largely to the “production committee” (seisaku iinkai) system, which is sustained by the partnership and conglomeration of newspaper, motion picture, television, advertising, celebrity, and other companies and agencies. Media hybridity has rewarded Japanese companies with a majority share since 2006.118

Film reception in the early 21st century rests in the interstices of multiple media platforms. With the spread of laptops, tablets, smart phones, and online streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu Japan, and Amazon Prime, consumer action is likely to continue on a multitude of venues. The reception of U.S. cinema unfolds, and will continue to unfold, in this expanding matrix of media competition.

The popularity of Frozen in 2014, however remarkable, was but one of the many outcomes of the history of U.S. cinematic reception in Japan. For some 120 years, U.S. cinema has provoked, challenged, fascinated, mesmerized, and at times enraged a diverse body of consumers through expanding media channels, marketing tactics, and institutional vehicles. A study of American-movie reception reveals that its popularity was shaped by cultural and political ebbs and flows, while accumulating in volume and frequency over the course of time. The demographic of consumers expanded (perhaps diffused) from wealthier and educated groups to working-class audiences, from urban to rural residents, from fans of the big screens to those who follow alternative platforms. Long perceived as a foreign cultural artifact, American cinema has increasingly become a core ingredient of Japanese life. A close look at reception not only reveals the intrinsic hybridity of U.S. cinema and culture. It also shows that movie-going publics in Japan have played an indispensable role in sustaining America’s presence in the longue duree.

Discussion of the Literature

U.S. cinematic reception in Japan has suffered from scholarly neglect. The literature on the globalization of American films has traditionally focused on the study of business and policy negotiations conducted by top representatives and has therefore largely overlooked the ways in which U.S. movies were diffused, exhibited, and consumed in receiving societies like Japan. Scholars of cinema in Japan have predominantly concentrated on domestic productions. This tendency is reflected in the growing scholarship of film reception in Japan, as it tends to revolve around Japanese cinema. For the above reasons, scholars need to start by asking the following questions: Who were the audiences? Where and how did they consume American movies? What did movie-goers make of American cinema? In what ways did it influence Japanese filmmakers and filmmaking? In what ways did U.S. films influence Japanese society? How did the patterns of consumption change over time? How did the perceptions of American cinema change over time?

Further Reading

Bernardi, Joanne. Writing in Light: The Silent Scenario and the Japanese Pure Film Movement. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2001.Find this resource:

Fujiki, Hideaki. Making Personas: Transnational Film Stardom in Modern Japan. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013.Find this resource:

Gerow, Aaron. Visions of Japanese Modernity: Articulations of Cinema, Nation, and Spectatorship, 1895–1925. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010.Find this resource:

High, Peter B. The Imperial Screen: Japanese Film Culture in the Fifteen Years’ War, 1931–1945. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2003.Find this resource:

Kitamura, Hiroshi. Screening Enlightenment: Hollywood and the Cultural Reconstruction of Defeated Japan. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2010.Find this resource:

Matsuura, Akira, and Keiko Sasagawa. Tōyō kisen to eiga. Osaka: Kansai daigaku shuppanbu, 2016.Find this resource:

Tanaka, Jun’ichirō. Nihon eiga hattatsushi. 5 vols. Tokyo: Chūō kōronsha, 1975.Find this resource:

Tsukada, Yoshinobu. Nihon eigashi no kenkyū: katsudō shashin torai zengo no jijō. Tokyo: Gendai shokan, 1980.Find this resource:

Yoshimi, Shun’ya. Shikaku toshi no chiseigaku: manazashi to shite no kindai. Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 2016.Find this resource:


(1.) “Frozen,”

(3.) Oricon News, “Ana to yuki no jōou hitto no ura ni Nihon no dokuji senryaku ari,” Huffpost Japan, April 27, 2014,

(4.) On the significance of local branch offices, see Hiroshi Kitamura, “Outpost of Hybridity: Paramount’s Campaign in Japan 1952–1962,” in The Oxford Handbook of Japanese Cinema, ed. Daisuke Miyao (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 188–208.

(5.) Oricon News, “Ana to yuki no jōou hitto no ura ni Nihon no dokuji senryaku ari,” Huffpost Japan, April 27, 2014; “Utau, watashi mo shuyaku ni naruno: Ana to yuki no jōou senpū, Nihon demo,” Asahi shinbun evening ed. (Osaka), May 14, 2014, 1.

(6.) The geographic scope of this study will be confined to the country’s four main islands: Honshu, Hokkaido, Shikoku, and Kyushu.

(7.) Janet Staiger, Interpreting Films: Studies in the Historical Reception of American Cinema (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992), 9.

(8.) Robert C. Allen, “From Exhibition to Reception: Reflections on the Audience in Film History,” in Screen Histories: A Screen Reader, eds. Annette Kuhn and Jackie Stacey (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 15.

(9.) For works on film reception in Japan, see, for example, Hideaki Fujiki, ed., Nihon eiga sōsho 14: kankyaku e no apurōchi (Tokyo: Shinwasha, 2011).

(10.) Yoshinobu Tsukada, Nihon eigashi no kenkyū: katsudō shashin torai zengo no jijō (Tokyo: Gendai shokan, 1980), 13–48.

(11.) Aaron Gerow, Visions of Japanese Modernity: Articulations of Cinema, Nation, and Spectatorship, 1895–1925 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010), 41; and Joanne Bernardi, Writing in Light: The Silent Scenario and the Japanese Pure Film Movement (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2001), 168.

(12.) Jun’ichirō Tanaka, Nihon eiga hattsushi I: katsudō shashin jidai (Tokyo: Chūō kōronsha, 1975), 35; and Keiko Sasagawa, Meiji, Taishō Osaka eiga bunka no tanjō: “Rōkaru” na eigashi no chihei ni mukete (Osaka: Kansai daigaku Osaka toshi isan kenkyū sentā, 2012), 31.

(13.) Hifumi Mizuno, “Kansai eiga ochiboshū 2,” Eiga shiryō 9(May 1963): 2–3.

(14.) Hifumi Mizuno, “Kansai eiga hattsushi dan 4,” Eiga shiryō 11(January 1964): 2–4.

(15.) Tsukada, Nihon eigashi no kenkyū, 168–224.

(16.) On the Asakusa Denkikan, see Manabu Ueda, “Eigakan no ‘tanjō’: Denkikan ni okeru kōgyō to kankyaku no hen’yō,” in Nihon eiga no tanjō, ed. Kenji Iwamoto (Tokyo: Shinwasha, 2011), 179–208. On the growth of the movie business after the Russo-Japanese War, see, for example. Tanaka, Nihon eiga hattsushi I, 114–115; and Chieo Yoshida, “Katsuben no rekishi (2),” Eigashi kenkyū 2 (1973): 1–14.

(17.) Gerow, Visions of Japanese Modernity, 128.

(18.) Masato Hase, “Ken’etsu no tanjō: Taishōki no keisatsu to katsudō shashin,” Eizōgku 53(1994): 133.

(19.) Hideaki Fujiki, Making Personas: Transnational Film Stardom in Modern Japan (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013), 50–88.

(20.) In Japan, unlike most other Asian markets, foreign films were distributed by domestic companies. These domestic companies functioned to limit the importation of U.S. films. Keiko Sasagawa, “Amerika eiga no Ajia shijō tenkai to Nihon no chiseigakuteki ichi: kaigai eiga shijō ni kansuru Amerika seifu hōkō no rekishiteki bunseki, 1903–1919,” Kansai daigaku bungaku ronshū 66.1 (July 2016): 63–91.

(21.) “Taishō katsuei kabushiki kaisha hattatsushi,” Katsudō kurabu, October 1920, 77.

(22.) Tanaka, Nihon eiga hattsushi I, 246–248.

(23.) Keiko Sasagawa, “Tomu D. Kokuren to Ajia: Yunibāsaru eiga no Ajia tenkai,” Kansai daigaku bungaku ronshū 65.1 (July 2015): 131–157.

(24.) Akira Matsuura and Keiko Sasagawa, Tōyō kisen to eiga (Osaka: Kansai University Press, 2016), 243–248.

(25.) “Dokusha e hitokoto: katsudō shashin ni taisuru honshi no taido,” Katsudō no sekai (February 1916), 43; and Sasagawa, “Tomu D. Kokuren to Ajia,” 150.

(26.) See, for example, “Shinai kakusho meguri,” Katsudō no sekai (March 1916): 144–146.

(27.) Katsudō no sekai (April 1916).

(28.) Yasunosuke Gonda, Minshū goraku mondai, (Tokyo: Dōjinsha, 1921), 283, quoted in Fujiki, Making Personas, 62.

(29.) See, for example, Nagahru Yodogawa, Yodogawa Nagaharu jiden, jō (Tokyo: Chūō kōronsha, 1988), 39–43, 64–69.

(30.) Bernardi, Writing in Light, 44–66.

(31.) Bernardi, Writing in Light, 75.

(32.) Gerow, Visions of Japanese Modernity, 3.

(33.) Bernardi, Writing in Light, 187.

(34.) Tadao Satō, Nihon eigashi I: 1896–1940 (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1995), 170–180.

(35.) Bernardi, Writing in Light, 145.

(36.) Bernardi, Writing in Light, 208.

(37.) Matsuura and Sasagawa, Tōyō kisen to eiga, 220.

(38.) Shun’ya Yoshimi, “Americanization to bunka no seijigaku,” in Iwanami kōza gendai shakaigaku I: gendai shakai no shakaigaku, ed. Shun Inoue et al. (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1995), 170–176.

(39.) Kenji Sahara, “Eiga shimei no kokusaiteki ichimen,” Kokusai eiga shinbun, November 15, 1932, 2.

(40.) Kikuo Yamamoto, Nihon eiga ni okeru gaikoku eiga no eikyō: hikaku eigashi kenkyū (Tokyo: Waseda daigaku shuppankai, 1982), 69.

(41.) “Jōsetsukan shōkai sono ichi: Hōgakuza,” Kokusai eiga shinbun 1 (July 20, 1927): 15.

(42.) Matsuura and Sasagawa, Tōyō kisen to eiga, 236–238; and Yoshio Ishimaki, “Honpō eiga kōgyō gaikan,” Kokusai eiga tsūshinsha, Nihon eiga jigyō sōran Taishō 15 nenban (Tokyo: Kokusai eiga tsūshinsha, 1925), 36.

(43.) Matsuura and Sasagawa, Tōyō kisen to eiga, 255–256.

(44.) See, for example, Yoshihiro Nōma, Fukuoka Hakata eiga hyakunen (Fukuoka: Imamura Shoten sankurieito, 2003), 38–42. For a general discussion of Japanese theaters of this era, see J. L. Anderson, “Spoken Silents in the Japanese Cinema; or, Talking to Pictures: Essaying the Katsuben, Contexturalizing the Texts,” in Reframing Japanese Cinema: Authorship, Genre, History, eds. Arthur Nolletti Jr. and David Desser (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992), 275–278.

(45.) Ishimaki, “Honpō eiga kogyō gaikan,” 53–55.

(46.) Anderson, “Spoken Silents in the Japanese Cinema; or, Talking to Pictures,” 276; and Takahisa Furukawa, Senjika no Nihon eiga: hitobito wa kokusaku eiga o mitaka (Tokyo: Yoshikawa kōbunkan, 2003), 24.

(47.) According to Nihon eiga jigyō sōran (Motion Picture Year Book) of 1928–1929, the admission fees of “foreign cinema” ranged from 70–80 sen to 2.5–3 yen, whereas Japanese-film theaters (hōga senmonkan) charged between 40 sen to 2 yen. See Jun’ichirō Tanaka, “Shōwa 2 nen no Nihon eigakai shuchō,” Kokusai eiga tsūshinsha, Nihon eiga jigyō sōran, Shōwa 3–4 nenban (Tokyo: Kokusai eiga tsūshinsha, 1928), 15.

(48.) Fujiki, Making Personas, 249–278; and Aaron Gerow, “Critical Reception: Historical Conceptions of Japanese Film Criticism,” in The Oxford Handbook of Japanese Cinema, ed. Daisuke Miyao (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 64.

(49.) Aaron Gerow, “Tatakau kankyaku: Daitōa kyōeiken no Nihon eiga to juyō no mondai,” Gendai shisō 30.9 (July 2002): 141–142.

(50.) Yuko Itatsu, “Japan’s Hollywood Boycott Movement of 1924,” Historical Journal of Film, Radio, and Television 28.3 (August 2008): 353–369.

(51.) Donald Kirihara, Patterns of Time: Mizoguchi and the 1930s (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1992), 56.

(52.) Tanaka, “Shōwa 2 nen no Nihon eigakai shuchō,” 14–16; and Ishimaki, “Nihon eiga jigyō yōkō,” Kokusai eiga tsūshinsha, Nihon eiga jigyō sōran, Shōwa 3–4 nenban (Tokyo: Kokusai eiga tsūshinsha, 1928), 316.

(53.) See, for example, Donald Richie, Japanese Cinema: Film Style and National Character (New York: Anchor Books, 1971); and Noel Burch, To the Distant Observer: Form and Meaning in the Japanese Cinema (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979).

(54.) Daisuke Miyao, “Nihon eiga to Hariuddo,” in Nihon eiga wa ikiteiru Vol. 1, ed. Kurosawa Kiyoshi et al. (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 2010), 201–226. A refined version of this discussion is available in Daisuke Miyao, The Aesthetics of Shadow: Lighting and Japanese Cinema (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013), 15–66.

(55.) Kirihara, Patterns of Time, 52; and David Bordwell, Ozu and the Poetics of Cinema (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988), 152.

(56.) Masaaki Nakano, “Amerika o yume mita komedian: Furukawa Roppa no Amerikanizumu,” in Nihon hyōshō no chiseigaku: kaiyō, genbaku, reisen, poppu karuchā, ed. Fuhito Endō (Tokyo: Sairyūsha, 2014), 190–214.

(57.) Fujiki, Making Personas, 283–284.

(58.) Yamamoto, Nihon eiga ni okeru gaikoku eiga no eikyō, 439–452.

(59.) Rie Kitada, “Talkie jidai no benshi: gaikoku eiga no Nihongo jimaku aruiha ‘Nihonban’ no keisei,” Nihon eiga 4 (2009): 4–21.

(60.) “Jusshūnen kinen tokubetsu henshū,” Kinema junpō (September 1, 1929): 85–98.

(61.) C. V. Hyke, “1932 nen no haru o mukaete,” Kinema junpō 422 (January 1, 1932): 69.

(62.) Kenji Iwamoto, “Wasei myūjikaru eiga no tanjō,” in Nihon eiga to modanizumu, 1920–1930, ed. Kenji Iwamoto (Tokyo: Libro Port, 1991), 234–247.

(63.) Furukawa, Senjika no Nihon eiga, 36.

(64.) American Council General, “New Regulations for Motion Pictures in Japan,” December 5, 1939, 894.4061 Motion Pictures/37, Records of the U.S. Department of State, Record Group 59, National Archives and Records Administration II, College Park, MD; Atsuko Katō, Sōdōin taisei to eiga (Tokyo: Shin’yōsha, 2003), 51–82.

(65.) Peter B. High, The Imperial Screen: Japanese Film Culture in the Fifteen Years’ War, 1931–1945 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2003), 70–76.

(66.) Tomoyoshi Murayama, “Gaikoku tai Nihon eiga,” Nihon eiga 1.9 (November 1936): 39.

(67.) High, The Imperial Screen, 76–82; and Miriam Silverberg, Erotic Grotesque Nonsense: The Mass Culture of Japanese Modern Times (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006), 141.

(68.) Akira Kurosawa, Gama no abura: jiden no yōnamono, reprint ed. (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 2001), 227–228.

(69.) Yodogawa, Yodogawa Nagaharu jiden, jō, 368.

(70.) Takashi Fujitani associates Suicide Squad at the Watchtower with Beau Geste (1939), a U.S. film that dramatizes French imperialism in the Middle East. See T. Fujitani, Race for Empire: Koreans as Japanese and Japanese as Americans During World War II (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011), 306–318.

(71.) See, for example, John W. Dower, Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II (New York: W. W. Norton and the New Press, 1999).

(72.) Hiroshi Kitamura, Screening Enlightenment: Hollywood and the Cultural Reconstruction of Defeated Japan (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2010).

(73.) Charles Mayer, “Gekijō shihainin ni taisuru yōbō,” Sentoraru nyūsu no. 2, (n.d.), 1.

(74.) See Hiroshi Kitamura, “‘Home of American Movies’: The Marunouchi Subaruza and the Making of Hollywood’s Audiences in Occupied Tokyo, 1946–9,” in Hollywood Abroad: Audiences and Cultural Exchange, eds. Richard Maltby and Melvyn Stokes (London: British Film Institute, 2004), 111.

(75.) See, for example, American Movie Culture Association, Eiga no kisetsu (Tokyo: AMCA shuppanbu, 1949).

(76.) On “outside film criticism,” see Gerow, “Critical Reception,” 64. On “democracy” and “humanism,” see Kitamura, Screening Enlightenment, 134–154.

(77.) Nagaharu Yodogawa, Eiga sansaku (Tokyo: Fuyu shobō, 1950), 235–244.

(78.) Kitamura, Screening Enlightenment, 155–176.

(79.) Hidekuni Ōuchi, “Eiga wa doredake fukyū shite iruka,” Ningen keisei 1 (October 1948): 44.

(80.) Kinema junpōsha, Kinejun sōken hakusho: eiga bijinesu dēta bukku 2008 (Tokyo: Kinema junpōsha, 2008), 176; and Jiji tsūshinsha, Eiga nenkan 1952 nendo ban (Tokyo: Jiji tsūshinsha, 1951), 96.

(81.) Kitamura, Screening Enlightenment, 177.

(82.) Kitamura, Screening Enlightenment, 104.

(83.) Kitamura, Screening Enlightenment, 128–132.

(84.) Gerow, “Critical Reception,” 69–72.

(85.) Yūshū eiga kanshōkai, Suisen eiga mokuroku, 1954 nen 5 gatsu-1980 nen 4 gatsu (Tokyo: Yūshū eiga kanshōkai, 1980).

(86.) “Editor’s Corner,” Eiga no tomo, December 1954, 168.

(87.) Hiroshi Minami et al., “Watashi no mita Nihon eigakai,” Kinema junpō, May 1, 1957, 68.

(88.) Hiroyoshi Ishikawa, Akira Fujitake, Kōsei Ono, eds., Nihon fūzoku jiten: Amerikan karuchā 1, ‘45–50’s (Tokyo: Sanseidō, 1981), 162.

(89.) Ei Hirosawa, Kurokami to keshō no Shōwashi (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1993), 256.

(90.) Saburō Kawamoto and Arihiro Hazumi, “Mukokuseki ka shita Amerika eiga,” in Sengo kōkai Amerika eiga daihyakka, dai 12 kan: shiryō hen PART 3, 45.78 nendobetsu zenkiroku jiten, ed. Arihiro Hazumi (Tokyo: Nihon Book Library, 1979), 80.

(91.) Kinema junpōsha, Kinejun sōken hakusho: eiga bijinesu dētabukku 2008, 176.

(92.) Hiroshi Kitamura, “Shoot-Out in Hokkaido: The ‘Wanderer’ (Wataridori) Series and the Politics of Transnationality,” in Transpacific Asian Identities in Pan-Pacific Cinemas: The Reel Asian Exchange, eds. Philippa Gates and Lisa Funnell (New York: Routledge, 2012), 31–45.

(93.) Hiroshi Kitamura, “Wild Wild War: Okamoto Kihachi and the Politics of Desperado Films,” in Chinese and Japanese Films on the Second World War, eds. Sandra Wilson, Timothy Tsu, and King-fai Tam (New York: Routledge, 2015), 107–120.

(94.) Kinema junpōsha, Kinejun sōken hakusho: eiga bijinesu detabukku <2009–2010> (Tokyo: Kinema junpōsha, 2009), 182–183.

(95.) Shun’ya Yoshimi, Shikaku toshi no chiseigaku: manazashi to shite no kindai (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 2016), 199–234.

(96.) Naoaki Inui, Gaikoku terebi firumu seisuishi (Tokyo: Shōbunsha, 1990), 74–75, 86–89, 140–141; and Gerow, “Critical Reception,” 69.

(97.) TV Asahi, ed., Eiga wa buraunkan no shiteiseki de: Yodogawa Nagaharu to ‘Nichiyō yōga” no 20 nen (Tokyo: TV Asahi, 1986).

(98.) “Gappei soshite ‘zen’in kaiko’,” Yomiuri shinbun, evening ed., June 30, 1970, 6; “Yōgakei Nihon shisha no shukushō,” Yomiuri shinbun, evening ed., January 29, 1972, 9; “Eiga, sono saihensei ni miru, jō,” Yomiuri shinbun, evening ed., September 4, 1972, 9.

(99.) Hazumi, ed., Sengo kōkai Amerika eiga daihyakka, dai 12 kan, 96–97.

(100.) Eiji Oguma, 1968 nen, jō (Tokyo: Shin’yōsha, 2009), 601.

(101.) See, for example, Thomas Schatz, “The New Hollywood,” in Movie Blockbusters, ed. Julian Stringer (New York: Routledge, 2003), 14–44.

(102.) Kinema junpōsha, Kinejun sōken hakusho: eiga bijinesu dēta bukku 2008, 183.

(103.) Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide (New York: New York University Press, 2006).

(104.) A U.S. media executive noted that Japan’s television market was “the world’s second largest in scale” by 2011. “Tēma pāku to sōjōkōka o kitai: Yunibāsaru, terebi bumon shachō ni kiku,” Asahi shinbun (January 24, 2001), 13.

(105.) “Terebi no yōga gekijō masumasu sakan ni,” Asahi shinbun, evening ed. (August 19, 1969), 9; “Naze ‘yōga gekijō’ ni hōga hōsō nanoka,” Asahi shinbun (December 1, 1988), 18.

(106.) Kinema junpōsha, Kinejun sōken hakusho: eiga bijinesu dētabukku 2008, 126–135.

(107.) According to one journalist, the DVD release of Star Wars and other special-effects-heavy Hollywood films inspired the trend of enhancing the software with additional features. See Asahi shinbun evening edition (October 17, 2003), 8.

(108.) Yoshimi, Shikaku toshi no chiseigaku, 295–339.

(109.) See, for example, the Disney Store website.

(110.) Shun’ya Yoshimi, Shinbei to hanbei: sengo Nihon no seijiteki muishiki (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 2007), 233.

(111.) Hiroo Ōtaka and Mariko Inaba, eds., Mini shiatā o yoroshiku (Tokyo: JICC shuppankyoku, 1989), 38–59.

(112.) On Hasumi, see Ryan Cook, “An Impaired Eye: Hasumi Shigehiko on Cinema and Stupidity,” Review of Japanese Culture and Society 22 (December 2010): 130–143; and Gerow, “Critical Reception,” 72–74. On Hasumi’s writings on Hollywood B films, see, for example, Shigehiko Hasumi, Hariuddo eigashi kōgi: kageri no rekishi no tameni (Tokyo: Lumiere gyōsho, 1993).

(113.) Hiroki Azuma, Dōbutsuka suru posutomodan: otaku kara mita Nihon shakai (Tokyo: Kōdansha, 2001), 20.

(114.) Jayson Makoto Chun, “Learning Bushido from Abroad: Japanese Reactions to The Last Samurai,” in Transnational Asian Identities in Pan-Pacific Cinemas, eds. Philippa Gates and Lisa Funnell (New York: Routledge, 2012), 61–73.

(115.) Katsuyuki Hidaka, Shōwa nosutarujia towa nanika: kioku to radical demokurashii no media gaku (Tokyo: sekai shisōsha, 2014).

(116.) “Ochime no hōga, ‘saigo no hokori,’ mo . . . ” Yomiuri shinbun, evening ed. (September 30, 1975), 2.

(117.) David Cook, Lost Illusions: American Cinema in the Shadow of Watergate and Vietnam, 1970–1979 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), 336.

(118.) Kinema junpōsha, Kinejun sōken hakusho: eiga bijinesu dētabukku 2008.