Facade of "Denkikan" movie theater


When moving pictures first came to Japan, they were shown at theaters for plays and tents that toured around; however, the Denkikan (electric hall) on the sixth block of Asakusa became Japan's first permanent movie theater on 1903. Up to that time, the Denkikan was an exhibition area that flourished by making use of electric gadgets such as X-rays. As a continuation of this type of exhibitions, it started showing films.
There was no sound in the moving picture at that time, so it was necessary to have a commentator. The person who had been the voice of the exhibitions up to that point Somei Saburou took over as the commentator, and he added to the theaters popularity. Numerous masterpieces that entertained the public were shown here like the Italian drama "Anthony and Cleopatra" and Charlie Chaplin's comedy films.
After the success of the Denkikan, the small exhibits on the sixth block of Asakusa became movie theaters one after another. Then, there movie theaters opened up nation wide that started with the name "Denkikan." The Asakusa Denkikan closed in 1976.