The Transition of Pre- and Post-War Film Ephemera in Japan

Film Ephemera from the Makino Collection, Columbia University in the City of New York.

Pre-war film schedule bulletins. Shinjuku, Showakan News, No. 246, 255, 258, 264, 265 (1938)

The initial style of the film handbill, or flier, was seen in Japan before World War IIThere were a limited number of movie theaters in Japan at this period, and films were promoted by theaters themselves. The pre-war handbills in the Makino Collection were printed on coarse paper and produced by the movie theaters, unlike the current Western style. The design uses traditional Japanese writing styles, such as inscribing phrases from right to left.

The original style of film programs began to be distributed as a free-of-charge weekly bulletin, which were published by film theaters just like film fliers. There was no boundary between flier and program at this point.

Film Ephemera from the Makino Collection, Columbia University in the City of New York.

Occupation period foreign film leaflets. American Picture News by CMPE (reprint, 1984). From left: The Maltese Falcon (1951), directed by John Huston; The Pirate (1951), directed by Vincente Minnelli

After the war, starting from Subaruza in the Yῡrakuchō neighborhood of Tokyo, the American style of roadshow theatrical release permeated all of Japan, which was led by the Central Motion Picture Exchange (CMPE). CMPE published and sold their own film programs for their distributed Hollywood films during the occupation period. Meanwhile, the number of theaters dramatically increased, reaching its peak in 1960.


* CLICK TO ENLARGE * Attendance at pre- and post-war film theaters, and the historical background in Japan. Source: Compiled by C. V. Starr East Asian Library, Columbia University in the City of New York, based on data from The Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan, Inc (2014); Senjika no Nihon eiga by Furukawa Takahisa (2003); the Cabinet Office, Government of Japan (2014)

* CLICK TO ENLARGE * Attendance at pre- and post-war film theaters, and the historical background in Japan. Source: Compiled by C. V. Starr East Asian Library, Columbia University in the City of New York, based on data from The Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan, Inc (2014); Senjika no Nihon eiga by Takahisa Furukawa (2003); the Cabinet Office, Government of Japan (2014)

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The Film Ephemera Collection within the Makino Collection: The Uniqueness of Japanese Film Ephemera

Japanese film program from the Makino Collection

Japanese film program. Rampo (1994), directed by Rintarō Mayuzumi

The ephemera within the Makino Collection are the most vibrant part of it. Generally speaking, the word “ephemera” means “something which has a transitory existence”. What exactly does “ephemera” mean in the archival world and in library and information science? The term is defined by the Library of Congress (2008) as:

non-commercial, non-book publications in the form of pamphlets, handbills, leaflets, broadsides, position papers, minutes of meetings, information sheets, bulletins, newsletters, posters, moving images and photographic documentation.

Ephemeral materials may also be produced in a variety of electronic formats, such as web sites, web pages, web logs, pod casts, etc. These materials are typically published outside of official or normal channels.

The Makino Collection’s post-war film ephemera mainly consist of film programs and fliers.

Imported film program. À bout de souffle/Breathless revival (1978), directed by Jean-Luc Godard

French film program. À bout de souffle/Breathless revival (1978), directed by Jean-Luc Godard

Imported film program. Saturday Night Fever (1978), directed by John Badham

American film program. Saturday Night Fever (1978), directed by John Badham

Japanese film ephemera are considered to be very unique. Why? What makes Japanese film ephemera so special? Film ephemera are considered to be one of the most significant aspects of films in Japan. Film programs, especially, are extremely unique, in that all films in Japan, including revivals and retrospectives, produce film programs that are on a level not seen in the United States and other countries. There is no other country like Japan, where every variety of film publishes an elaborate program, which is sold at movie theaters only during the film’s run. Interestingly, the majority of audiences are accustomed to, or cannot resist purchasing a program when they are at the movie theater. It is like getting popcorn at a movie theater in the United States. In Japan, audiences purchase a film program instead of popcorn, or they might get both. In this way, film programs have always been present in the lives of Japanese theater goers broadening their film intelligence, and showing them the larger world. Continue reading

Yōga (Foreign films) and hōga (Japanese films): An Overview of the Japanese Film Industry as Represented in the Makino Collection

The most prevalent films in Japan could be roughly separated into two genres: hōga (Japanese films) and yōga (imported/international/foreign films). According to the Japanese dictionary Daijirin, yōga is understood as “films which were produced in Western countries. Also, the term could indicate foreign films in a broad sense”.

Right after World War II, films which were imported to Japan were overwhelmingly American and European. Therefore, most films, excluding domestic ones, were called yōga (=Western, ga =image/film). In the 1970’s, films from all areas in the world including Asian films began to enter the Japanese film market. Today, the Japanese film market is diverse; a myriad of film productions and distribution companies are multinational enterprises in the world market. In other words, films nowadays are the borderless product of multinational investments and productions. Therefore, the expression “yōga” is losing its intrinsic meaning, but it is still used as a term for foreign or international films in Japan.

* CLICK TO ENLARGE * Overview of post-war Japanese film industry. Source: Compiled by C.V. Starr East Asian Library, Columbia University in the City of New York, based on data from the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan, Inc. (2013)

* CLICK TO ENLARGE * Overview of post-war Japanese film industry. Source: Compiled by C.V. Starr East Asian Library, Columbia University in the City of New York, based on data from the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan, Inc. (2013)

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A Hidden Collection to be Revealed: Makino Collection Film Ephemera and Rare Book Project

Council on Library and Information ResourcesThe final phase of the project to make hidden treasures from the Makino Collection available to the public has started moving ahead.
The Makino Mamoru Collection on the History of East Asian Film has been lauded for its scholarly value and awarded a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, through the administration of the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), as a Hidden Collections project. The final phase to make these hidden treasures available to the public has resumed. According to an initial survey, total number of materials in this collection reaches nearly 80,000 items. While approximately half of the entire collection has already been processed, the CLIR project consists of two main goals: to process the remaining film ephemera and catalog the rare books and monographs. The archival materials awaiting processing are mainly post-war film ephemera. Approximately 6,500 items in the “hidden collection” are to be arranged, described, and preserved in order to enhance access, expand research potential, and inspire new theories on East Asian Film.

As is often observed in academic film studies, Japanese film scholars have had difficulty obtaining comprehensive research materials, which has undervalued the importance of collecting and preserving materials on this subject. Unfortunately, this trend has moved the focus onto less valuable forms of media in the field of Japanese film studies. In a 2011 publication, the collector, Mr. Makino Mamoru explained the reason for the absence of academic resources, using a term, “le septième art [the seventh art],” coined by an Italian film theoretician, Ricciotto Canudo in 1911: “In the past, when discussing the culture or artistic genre of each period, film was long considered a sub-culture, and treated as le septième art, in contrast with existing traditional artistic fields such as literature, painting and music.” Because of this attitude, very few resources have been accumulated. Moreover, collectors generally focus on film stills and posters, which represent the esthetic aspects of movies. Aware of this issue, Mr. Makino has endeavored to collect print materials related to film history in addition to images. He decided that this vibrant print culture needed to be collected before being completely lost.

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movie theater handbills


Playbill ephemera or what I refer to as handbills/programs/pamphlets/fliers (chirashi/チラシ) in the Makino Collection, are an interesting source for research on Japanese film.  They indicate what films were showing where and when, and may indicate cast and director/writer information. There is often a description of the film and advertisements. They enable scholars to find out what was popular at a certain time and location and the Makino Collection has a spectacular amount of these materials for both  the pre and postwar periods.

I recently added movie theater handbills/programs from China (including Manchuria) to the East Asian section of the Makino Collection (Series VII, box 609, 611, 634). These handbills from the 1940s are organized by city in Manchuria, with dates in Manchukuo calendar years (kōtoku/康徳), assuming that is what was written on the handbills. Cities include Hsinking/Xinjing/新京 (capital of Manchukuo), Dairen/Dalian/大連, and Tianjin/天津.  Some include tickets stubs which are kept with the handbill/program. Some have English, Japanese, and/or Chinese, and sometimes Russian text.  What do these ephemera have to contribute to our knowledge of the colonial period and Japanese Occupation?  Perhaps patrons of the Makino Collection will tell us in the future.

These handbills are a lovely addition to the more than 3,000 movie theater handbills from Japanese movie theaters that have already been processed in Series XII of the Collection (Boxes 124-139, 560, 612). The one below from Tokyo Eiga Gekijo has a ticket stub alongside it:

These are Musashino Weekly from 1925.

This set of handbills contains prewar fliers, pamphlets, programs, and weekly listings of film showings at movie theaters primarily during the prewar period. Also included with many of the programs are newspaper clippings or even ticket stubs for the particular film showings that appear in the programs. They are very well organized and we tried to include as much information as possible in the Excel file of holdings.  The first file contains early Meiji period handbills with some from the Taishō period (1920s) as organized by Mr. Makino. Files are then organized alphabetically by city, theater name, title (when known), and then number and date (This retains Mr. Makino’s organization by location and theater name). The majority of fliers are from theaters in Tokyo, more than 70 movie theaters in all. For these theaters, they are further organized alphabetically by location within the city of Tokyo: area of Tokyo, theater name, title, and then number and date. Some programs in this subseries are numbered and dated, while others are not numbered nor dated. The scope content/notes column includes the name of the film production company that managed the theater where known. In addition to the theater name, we have included the title of the publication, which means in some cases there are multiple folders per theater name.

Movie theater handbills can also be found in other parts of the Makino Collection. These include:
– handbills/programs distributed at multiple theaters and locations that were managed by the film production company Shōchiku.  They were were kept in 2 files by Mr. Makino (we have kept them together as well, also in Series XII).

– special film screening fliers/特別上映 and previews/試写会 (Series XII.14), which were kept in their original 2 file order.

– music fliers for films, and postwar fliers from the 1980s collected by Kobayashi Keizaburō/小林圭三郎 (kept in Series I.6: Director Files, Kobayashi).

– movie theater labor dispute materials/労働争議資料, documents which concern movie theater personnel, but are also related to the production companies (also in Series XII).

– handbills for news films/news reels in the Documentary Film section (Series VI.7)

– movie theater handbills for films promoted through G.H.Q.’s Central Motion Picture Exchange (CMPE), in the Occupation Period section. (Series VI.14.2, mainly from the late 1940s)

– prewar handbills advertising films from film companies including Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, Warner Brothers, United Artists, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, MGM, and others (Series VI.6.3: Distribution and Entertainment Industry, Show Distribution materials)

– newspaper handbills for late 1930s films that are handbills but found with newspapers (Series XVIII: Newspapers)

In addition to the items processed thus far, there are 26 boxes of unprocessed postwar film programs that remain in the Collection. These complement the prewar movie theater handbills and offer a different perspective on film viewership in Japan.  Some of these may contain fliers acquired along with the movie theater programs, which in the postwar are programs that were purchased by patrons rather than freely distributed by the movie theaters, and are thus souvenirs.




Searching for archival materials

I will be visiting our offsite storage facility ReCAP again this Friday to examine the contents of about 80 boxes. Last Friday, I visited and looked at 47 boxes.  Although almost all the boxes contained monographs, I found Man’ei/満英 related materials, Chinese film magazines, and photographs (mostly of Ri Koran, the film actress also known as Yamaguchi Yoshiko).  These will, of course, go in the Makino archive in an East Asian film section, while the monographs will be cataloged at some later date.  The magazines are quite lovely. Here is one example:

The photographs include this one:

photographs with Mr. Makino’s receipt of purchase

Many of the boxes contained large multi-volume sets on the history of Japanese film.
I haven’t written blog posts lately because I have been spending most of my time trying to determine what archival materials are left in the Collection and in which boxes they may be found. I will post an update about that in the near future.  At least for now, enjoy these photos.

Online Presentations in Academic Commons and presentation at CEAL 3/20/2013

In addition to YouTube Channel access, digital presentations of the Makino Symposium of 11/11/11 have recently been made available online on Columbia’s Open Access repository, Academic Commons. You can search by presenter name or browse by keywords “Makino Symposium.”

Last week, with our Library Director Jim Cheng, I gave an overview of the Makino Collection and the innovative tools we are using to promote the collection as part of the Council on East Asian Libraries (CEAL) annual meetings held in San Diego, California (March 20, 2013).  Part of a larger discussion of Open Access in East Asian Libraries, making the Makino Symposium available through YouTube, Academic Commons, and the website offers a good example of  ways we can promote our special collections at Columbia.  At Starr Library we take the broad view that the content of Open Access is not just written literature and not just the collections themselves.  As Peter Suber wrote in his 2012 book Open Access, “In principle, any kind of digital content can be OA, since any digital content can be put online without price or permission barriers. Moreover, any kind of content can be digital: texts, data, images, audio, video, multimedia, and executable code. We can have OA music and movies, news and novels, sitcoms and software – and to different degrees we already do.”  (p. 9)  In the case of the Makino Collection symposium, the digital content is the video taken of the symposium presentations. So it is this “digital content” that we are putting “online without price or permission barriers” in Suber’s words. Open Access has offered us a way to both preserve digital scholarship and use it to engage patrons in alternate ways in their discovery of our unique collections. So, while we hope to make parts of the Collection itself available in digital format in the future, for now, we hope you can enjoy the digital presentations.

The Powerpoint from the presentation,
Innovative Discovery of Unique Collections – CEAL 2013
(CEAL panel, “Open Access and Discovery in the Academic Universe: Next Steps for East Asian Studies Research and Library Development.”)

Online Presentations of the Makino Symposium on YouTube

Since today is 12/12/12, it seems appropriate that we can now announce that the digital remarks and presentations of the Makino Symposium of 11/11/11 have just been made available online for viewing on Columbia’s YouTube channel.  Twelve remarks/presentations from the symposium, “The Makino Collection at Columbia: the Present and Future of an Archive,” are now linked from the Symposium webpage.

The Makino Symposium and its digitized presentations are the first in a series that will form a digital library of research on and online access to the unique archival materials at Starr Library.  We hope that this new digital library builds a global community of scholars who will benefit from the research on these special materials.

Newspapers in the Makino Collection

Post Hurricane Sandy in NYC, I have been organizing the newspapers in the Makino Collection, which as a whole go from 1926 to 1969, with most of the papers from the 1940s through the 1950s. These include film newspapers for which we have many issues (over 500), like the Shūkan eiga puresu/週刊映画プレス/The Weekly Eiga Press, (1953-1963).  But we also have many titles for which there are only one or two issues in the Collection, including Eiga shinpō/映画新報, Fuan/ファン/The Fan, Gaikoku eiga shinbun/外国映画新聞, and about 50 other titles. They are very delicate and sometimes in brittle condition.  The Makino Collection also has non-film newspaper titles that include selected issues from the 1930s from Tokyo Asahi shinbun/東京朝日新聞, Tokyo Nichi Nichi shinbun/東京日日新聞 and its special editions/語外, and Yomiuri shinbun/読売新聞. The general newspapers cover significant events in Japanese history from 1931 until 1937.  In particular, they cover two attempted coup d’états, The May 15 Incident of 1932 (五・一五事件 Goichigo Jiken) and The February 26 Incident of 1936 (二・二六事件 Ni-niroku jiken or “2-2-6 Incident”). They also include general newspapers where articles related to film were published, such as the 1926 May 30th issue of Shūkan Asahi/週刊朝日/The Asahi Weekly Edition (vol. 9 no. 24), which on page 7 has an article by Nobel Prize winning author Kawabata Yasunari/川端康成 on the Kinugasa Teinosuke/衣笠貞之助 avant-garde film Kurutta ichipeiji/狂つた一頁/A Page of Madness.  Kawabata collaborated on the film.  Aaron Gerow has written about this film in his book,  A Page of Madness: Cinema and Modernity in 1920s Japan (Center for Japanese Studies, The University of Michigan, 2008) as well as in his blog.

The items in this series (Series 18, Newspapers) are organized in alphabetical order by title of the newspaper publication, rather than by date of publication (although the dates covered are noted).  Also contained in this series are large handbills/small posters for late 1930s films. I am still investigating these, but they may have come from the newspapers alongside which they were found.  The Collection has an entire series of over 3000 Movie Theater Handbills/Chirashi from the prewar period, so these in the newspaper section complement those in Series 12.  There is also an interesting connection to postwar magazines (which in the Makino Collection are organized in Series 11). Distinguishing between a magazine, newspaper, and even a newsletter, is not always readily apparent.

I have organized the newspapers in 8 boxes (Box 482~490) that can be requested in our Rare Book Room. For a complete list of titles and dates of the newspapers in Series 18, please send me a request. They are not yet uploaded to the Makino Website, where several Excel Files have already been uploaded for public view.

Shukan Asahi, May 1926 issue


Daiei nyusu, July 1952

My Visit with Mr. Makino

This June, I visited with Mr. and Mrs. Makino and scholar Mr. Satoh Yoh at the Makino home in Tokyo. While they showed me some albums containing photographs of individual books taken before the Makino Collection was packed up and sent to our off-site facility in New Jersey, we discussed some of Mr. Makino’s interests in cinema, and his ultimate hopes for the use of the collection at Columbia.  He described some of the work that went into packing the collection over the course of three months with the assistance of Mr. Satoh. Despite the move of the massive Makino Collection to Columbia, Mr. Makino’s study still contains books and videos that he kept for his private use.  These include scenarios that he wrote for documentary films.  Mr. Makino continues to collect film-related scholarship.

We spoke of Mr. Makino’s acquisition of novelist and playwright Kume Masao’s/久米正雄 materials. Kume was a novelist and classmate of authors Akutagawa Ryunosuke/芥川龍之介 and Kikuchi Kan/菊池寛. Kume wrote interesting pieces on film and was a consultant for such film production companies as Shōchiku, Tōhō, and Nikkatsu. The Kume materials in the collection include invitations (some postcards) from studios to studio events. We also spoke of screenwriters Ikeda Tadao/池田忠雄 and Inoue Kintarō/井上金太郎, who are both not very well known in Japan, but who Mr. Makino considers important figures in film history. The Makino Collection contains many scenarios formerly owned and written by both men. There are almost all of Inoue’s scenarios (over 100), and a few that were originally owned by Inoue but written by the great directors Ozu Yasujirō/小津安二 and Yamanaka Sadao/山中貞雄. According to Mr. Makino, Inoue recognized the importance of Ozu and Yamanaka early on. (All of these scenarios have been processed and can be requested at Starr Library during Rare Book Hours. For a complete list of scenarios in the Makino Collection, click on “Scenarios, alphabetical listing by title” on the Makino website).

Mr. Makino told me that before he attended college, he wrote poetry and that this is where his interest in cinepoem or eigashi/映画詩 originated. Cinepoems are poems written in the style of a film scenario.  They may have themes, stories, or characters that come from film.  (I would like to thank Professor Will Gardner at Swarthmore College for his explanation of cinepoem).  The Makino Collection contains Mr. Makino’s drafts for his presentation on 1910s and 1930s cinepoems and its related short piece in the Japan Society of Image Arts & Sciences/Nihon Eizō Gakkai/日本映像学会 (1993), where Mr. Makino writes about the influence of avant-garde French surrealist poets (and their cinépoème) on Japanese poets and filmmakers of the 1930s. The connections between poetry and cinema (and literature more broadly) share a long history.  This is evident from the vast assortment of prewar journals in the Makino Collection that touch upon poetry and cinema.  Mr. Makino told me that Director Yamanaka Sadao once said he wanted to make a film that was like a haiku and that many prewar directors were concerned with the visual expression of poetry.  Although Mr. Makino hasn’t written much on this topic himself, he expressed his hope that new theories might emerge from those who use his collection hereafter.

Since many of my questions concerned processing the Makino Collection, we also talked about some special materials, including the 23 Eiga zuihitsu/映画随筆 journals, housed with coterie magazines or dōjinshi/同人誌 (Series 6 Subseries 20, University Files and Coterie Magazines). These date from July 1925 to July 1929 and were self-published by student clubs dedicated to film, in this case at Kyoto University. Non-commercial and ephemera, these publications are not available in Japan. (See my previous blog posting on coterie magazines for more information).  Mr. Makino also mentioned Eiga kagaku kenkyū/映画科學硏究, a journal started by Director Murata Minoru/村田實 with Ushihara Kiyohiko/牛原虚彦 in 1928.  The Makino Collection has all 10 issues published between 1928 and 1932. (All 10 issues may only be available at NDL and at Tokyo University in Japan, but only a few of the original issues may be held at other libraries in North America).  Most of the Makino issues are signed and dated by Nagashima Eijirō/永島映次郎 but vol. 8 has a stamp from the library of Murata Minoru/村田實 himself (see the image below).  These are just a few of the many film topics we talked about.

During my visit, I also toured two important film centers: The National Film Center in Tokyo, where Mr. Okada Hidenori kindly showed me the Collection and its now permanent exhibit on the history of Japanese film (“Nihon Eiga: The History of Japanese Film from the NFC Non-Film Collection”/日本映画の歴史) and The Museum of Kyoto, where Mr. Moriwaki Kiyotaka and Dr. Oya Atsuko (former intern at Starr Library) impressed me with their film archive and temperature regulated film storage space.  Both of these film centers offer models for processing our own Makino Collection archive.  While the National Film Center has three curatorial sections to work on processing materials, exhibitions, and the special collections like Soviet and Russian film posters, press materials donated by film critics, or even the Misono Kyohei Collection of 15,000 movie theater programs, the Film Center has to contend with funding and space issues. They currently keep materials in an off-site location from which materials are brought to the Tokyo location twice monthly, and rather than a database publicly available on the web, they use an in-house database to locate materials.  It is a treasure trove and the permanent exhibition is worth a visit.  The Museum of Kyoto collection focuses on cinema in Kyoto, but also has film screenings and valuable film magazines, programs, scripts and more.  We share similar challenges with these Japanese film centers – substantial materials with few staff to organize them, copyright questions, and access dilemmas.  Their staff recognizes the limitations while at the same time acknowledging the significance of the current trend in archival processing, “Purosesu yori jisseki to“/プロセスより実績と or “more product less process.”

While in Kyoto, I also gave a presentation at Ritsumeikan University (June 25, 2012) entitled “An Introduction to the Makino Mamoru Collection at Columbia University’s C.V. Starr East Asian Library.” Here is the Powerpoint (Intro to Makino Collection – June 2012 – 6-4) with topics covered (in Japanese) and the poster can be found at: Atsuko Oya-san was the commentator. The idea was to inform graduate students at Ritsumeikan about not only the treasures to be found in the Makino Collection and the current status of processing, but to emphasize the global nature of scholarly research in Japanese film studies. It is my hope that such students and scholars will visit the Makino Collection in New York City as part of their scholarly research and that their use of the Makino Collection will inspire the new theories on film studies that Mr. Makino desires.