Friday, January 18, 2013

Nichigeki Music Hall and Tani Naomi

Nichigeki in 1933; photo from Wikipedia
The Nichigeki Music Hall, aka Nihon Gekijo and just Nichigeki, was a giant theater complex which opened in 1933 in the Yurakucho section of Tokyo near Ginza. It was torn down in 1981 and replaced by something else.

It was famous for its "Las Vegas style" revues of scantily clad dancers performing choreographed numbers with full orchestral accompaniment. It seems to have been managed by both the Nikkatsu and Toho film studios at various times in its history. Some Toho actresses took part in the bawdy entertainment when they weren't appearing in films.

It was also a venue for mainstream entertainment. In addition to Japanese entertainers, Ella Fitzgerald appeared there as did many other Western acts. A woman originally from Virginia by the name of Joan Shepherd performed there in the 1970s. She had been married to famous enka singer, Sen Masao. She also appeared on Japanese TV programs in those days and has been described as Japan's first Western tarento.

The pictures below were located on eBay and Flickr and depict various printed programs put out by the theater. They were in Japanese and English.

I don't believe I had ever heard of this theater until I read the Dan Oniroku entry on Nawapedia. In 1976, Dan produced a show at Nichigeki Music Hall called Spring Night Woman's Picture Scroll and the star of the show was none other than Tani Naomi. This really piqued my interest because Tani is well known for her films and highly-coveted photo books and magazine pictorials, but much less is reported concerning her live performances.

Nawapedia says this show ran from Feb. 27 to April 20, 1976.

I found a vanilla blog post referencing a sado-masochistic act witnessed by Westerners at Nichigeki in 1974, so apparently Miss Tani's wasn't the only SM-oriented show to take place there. And it seems that Nichigeki was a popular spot for Western tourists, at least those who didn't have kiddies in tow.

There was another smaller, more intimate theater on the floor above the main stage and I'm assuming this is where the SM shows took place.

Below are some photos I've been stockpiling which cause me to think this is what it must have looked like in those days. I have no idea if any of these are from Nichigeki or when they were taken. There were other similar theaters in existence when Nichigeki was in operation.

Speaking of Nawapedia, another great entry which was painstakingly translated from SMpedia, the Japanese-language sister site, highlights the activities of Tsujimura Takashi.

There, too, I found a very interesting tidbit -- this time in the footnotes.

Tani Naomi with Tsujimura Takashi
I have probably mentioned before that the first Japanese bondage photos I ever encountered was in approximately 1973-74. A couple of magazines came out which were chock full of color photos from Japan. I don't recall there being any text at all. I think the titles were Osaka Bondage and Sapporo Bondage but I could be wrong. I no longer have them.

Master "K", author of The Beauty of Kinbaku, has reported that a company called Phoenix was responsible for an east-west exchange of bondage materials in the 1970s. Maybe that's how these photos came to be published in magazines in the US.

However, in one of the footnotes Tsujimura says:

Now M, who I had broken with, thoughtlessly lent out and exchanged SM photo negatives. They were passed around, published in foreign magazines and in C magazine [...] Naturally even Mr. Minota had somewhat doubted my good judgement.

I am 99 percent certain that the below photos (the color ones) were some of those I had seen in those US magazines. I found these photos on this site recently and they were indeed the work of Tsujimura Takashi. The model in the color photos, by the way, is Kijima Midori.

Tsujimura Takashi in SM King magazine, Oct. 1973
These photos originally appeared in Dan Oniroku's SM King magazine in the Oct. 1973 issue. But from Tsujimura's comment, I'm now left wondering if the pictures were ever intended to be reproduced in American magazines. It does seem doubtful.

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