Timeline of Japanese Silent Films
The History of Silent Film in Japan
28 Dec 1895: Lumiere brothers unveil their invention, the cinematograph in Paris.
Nov 1896: Edison's kinetoscope is used in Kobe.
Feb 1897: Cinematograph and Vitascope screenings in Osaka.
Jan 1898: Exhibitions of American-made films of posture-dancing Geisha.
Jun 1899: First Japanese-made film is shown at the Tokyo Kabukiza.
Nov 1899: Momijigari (Maple Viewing), starring Ichikawa Danjuro and Onoe Kikugoro is filmed.
Mar 1900: Yoshizawa Shoten sells domestically-made projectors.
1902: Georges Melies (the father of science fiction films) produces and releases
Le Voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon) (France).
Jul 1903: Momijigari (Maple Viewing) opens at Naniwaza in Osaka.
Oct 1903: The first Japanese movie theater, the Denkikan in Asakusa, opens.
Edwin S. Porter (the father of the western) produces and releases The Great Train Robbery (U.S.).
Mar 1904: Yoshizawa Shoten and Yokota Shokai dispatch camera teams to the front in order to capture
the events of the Russo-Japanese War.
1905: Yokota Shokai sets up a studio in Kyoto.
Jul 1906: Shokichi Umeya founds M Pathe Company.
Aug 1908: Honnoji Gassen (The Battle of Honnoji), the first movie directed by Makino Shozo, opens.
Jun 1909: Katsudo Shashinkai (Motion Picture World), the first Japanese film magazine, is launched.
Dec 1909: Goban Tadanobu, which contains Matsunosuke Onoe's first starring performance, is released.
1910: The Yokohama Odeon, the first Japanese theater built exclusively to show foreign movies, opens.
Dec 1911: Nippon Kougyo Kabushiki-kaishi (Japan Entertainment Inc.), the first incorporated company in the
Japanese film world, founded.
Sep 1912: Nippon Katsudou Shashin Kabushiki-kaisha (Nippon Motion Pictures Inc.), a popular name,
(Nikkatsu) founded; Screening of "Zigomar" is prohibited.
Oct 1913: Nikkatsu Muhoujima Studio completed, with Japan's first glass stage.
Marcantonio e Cleopatra (Antony and Cleopatra) and Gli Ultimi Giornidi Pompei (The Last Days of Pompeii) are produced in Italy.
Mar 1914: Tennenshoku Katsudo Shashin Kabushiki-kaisha (Color Motion Pictures Inc.), a popular name (Tenkatsu) founded.
Apr 1914: Tokyo Cinema produces regular newsreels.
Hayakawa Sesshu debuts in the U.S. Charles Chaplin makes his movie debut.
Jan 1916: Katsudo no Sekai (The World of Motion) magazine founded.
Feb 1916: Rensageki, or plays combined with motion pictures, become popular.
D.W. Griffith's Intolerance released.
Apr 1917: Nikkatsu and Tenkatsu start producing animated films.
Aug 1917: National Police Agency promulgates the Motion Pictures Rules and Regulations.
One result is the separation of men's and women's seats.
Jul 1918: Norimasa Kaeriyama begins shooting Sei no Kagayaki (Sheer Brilliance), the first Japanese movie to use women.
Jul 1919: Kinema Junpo (Cinema News) is launched.
Sep 1919: Shozo Makino opens the Mikado Company and starts producing educational films.
Jun 1920: The Shochiku Company establishes a Kinema Department and starts
production in its Kamata Studio.
Nikkatsu Mukoujima Studio uses female actors for the first time.
Feb 1921: The Ministry of Education opens a training course for motion picture narrators (benshi).
April 1921: Sumiko Kurishima joins Shochiku Kinema.
Oct 1921: Motion Picture Exhibition opens.
Oct 1922: The afternoon-evening two-screening system is put into effect at movie theaters across Japan.
Apr 1923: Shozo Makino founds Makino Film Productions Inc. Tsumasaburo Bando makes film debut.
Dec 1924: Kinema Junposha begins selecting its yearly Top Ten movies.
Jul 1925: Ministry of Home Affairs applies censorship to all movie theaters nationwide.
Sep 1925: Tsumasaburo Bando founds his own production company, produces the classic, Orochi.
1926: The world's first full-length color feature film, Douglas' The Black Pirate is shown in the U.S.
Aug 1926: Rudolf Valentino dies.
Sep 1926: Matsunosuke Onoe dies.
Oct 1926: Denjiro Okochi joins Nikkatsu.
Jan 1927: Minagawa Yoshizo begins domestic production of talkies using phonofilm.
Mar 1927: Daisuke Ito and Denjiru Okochi combine to make the three-part hit film, Chuji Tabi Nikki (Diary of Chuji's Travels).
Mar 1927: Chojiro Hayashi (Kazuo Hasegawa) make his debut period film with Shochiku.
Mar 1927: Lovers Yoshiko Okada and Ryoichi Takeuchi run away to the USSR.
Apr 1928: Kanjuro Arashi and Chiezo Kataoka form independent production companies.
A succession of great directors join each company, including Sadao Yamanaka at Arashi's company and
Hiroshi Inagaki and Mansaku Itami at Kataoka's.
Oct 1928: Nagamasa Kawakita founds the Towa Shoji Movie Department and begins importing European films.
Roningai (Samurai Town) (Part I), directed by Masahiro Makino, reaches #1 on the Top Ten.
Feb 1929: Nippon Proletaria Film Alliance (Prokino) founded.
Jul 1929: Shozo Makino dies.
Feb 1930: Nani ga Kanojo wo So Saseta ka? (What Made Her Do That?) becomes a hit. "Tendency films" in vogue.
Mar 1930: Nikkatsu produces the experimental "film talkie," Furusato (Home).
Jan 1931: Eiga no Tomo (Friends of Cinema) magazine launched.
Feb 1931: First use of cinematic superimposition in the movie Morocco. P.C.L. founded.
Aug 1931: Shochiku succeeds in the production of a "Dobashi-style" talkie, Madame to Nyobo (The Madam and the Mrs.)
1932: Growing popularity of talkies causes benshi and band member strikes.
May 1932: Charlie Chaplin visits Japan.
Takako Irie becomes the first actress to set up an independent production company, which is joined by Kenji Mizoguchi.
The first Japanese western talkie, Namiko is produced.
Mar 1933: The lower house of the Japanese legislature passes the Proposition for a National Policy on Movies.
A bureaucratic system overseeing the motion picture industry, including the Movie Law is initiated.
Dec 1933: P.C.L. Movie Studios established.
Jan 1934: Fuji Film Inc. founded. Announces domestic mass production of film.
Mar 1934: Ministry of Home Affairs sets up the Movie Regulatory Committee.
Yasujiro Ozu earns the #1 ranking for the third consecutive year with the film, Ukigusa Monogatari (A Story of Floating Weeds).