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Tochigi ‘pink’ theater to shut in August

Utsunomiya Okura Gekijo
Utsunomiya Okura Gekijo

TOCHIGI (TR) – The curtain continues to slowly drop on what was once one of Japan’s more vibrant cinema genres.

On Thursday, another of the last remaining movie houses screening soft-core pornographic films known as “pink films” announced that it is closing its doors after more than three decades in operation.

The Utsunomiya Okura Gekijo, which is managed by the Okura Eiga film company, said on its Web site and Twitter account that it will close its doors on August 29 due to the deteriorated condition of its building.

The announcement said that the 72-seat theater, located near JR Utsunomiya Station in the Hanawada district of Utsunomiya City, “has continuously bloomed pink flowers since it opened in 1971.”

The announcement follows that by the Shimbashi Roman Gekijo, which earlier this month said it will also close in August.

Pink films, or pinku eiga, began in the 1960s. Usually running for 60 minutes, the productions are made by small companies and differ from conventional pornographic films in that the stories are more broadly developed. The beginning of the genre is usually traced back to director Satoru Kobayashi’s 1962 black-and-white torture production “Flesh Market.”

Despite their quick-and-dirty nature, the films are not looked down upon by mainstream cinema. Many pink directors went on to success in the mainstream. “Departures,” the winner of the Oscar for best foreign language film in 2009, was helmed by Yojiro Takita, whose lengthy pink career included “Molester’s Delivery Service” in 1986. Koji Wakamatsu, known as the “Pink Godfather,” competed for the Golden Bear with his war film “Caterpillar” at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2010.

In October of 2012, the Asakusa Sekaikan, located in Tokyo’s Taito Ward, also closed. The last remaining theaters screening pink cinema in Tokyo are located in the Ueno, Shinjuku and Ikebukuro districts.

For the Utsunomiya Okura Gekijo, it promises to serve its customers right up until it blooms its last flowers. The theater said via Twitter: “We promise to go all out until the end!”