This is the photograph of Cafe Ginza at Buchanan Street in San Francisco on December 9 1941.
(The photograph is found at Shorpy, the ever-inspiring photograph archive site.)
It speaks volumes, many different stories ... the Japanese American Community of the prewar era, the strange calmness of the morning after Japanese attack on U.S. soil, the photographer who took this photograph (John Collier), and the demise that would fall upon the proprietor of the Cafe and the doctor next door in coming years. But for now, we would visit Bukkyo-Kai Hall (Buddhist Temple Hall) and Kinmon Hall (Kinmon is the literal translation of “Golden Gate”) on the nights of 6 and 7 of December, to entertain ourselves with three movies. The prints were shipped all the way from Yokohama, Japan to San Francisco. The movie posters you could see in this photograph are
NIJI NI TATSU OKA (The Hill of Rainbow, 虹に立つ丘, 1938, Toshio Ootani)
O-OKA-SEIDAN, TORIMA (Phantom Killer, 大岡政談 通り魔,1940, directed by Kumahiko Nishina)
FUJIGAWA NO KETTOU (Blood Mist over Fuji River, 富士川の血煙,1939, directed by Shichinosuke Oshimoto)
|NIJI (NI) TATSU OKA (top) and FUJIGAWA NO KETTO (bottom)|
Both films were shown in the Kinmon Hall on December 6 and 7.
It says so on the very top of the poster.
Two movies, O-OKA-SEIDAN and FUJIGAWA were produced by Shinko Kinema, the movie company specialized in quickies. Well, you may call it Monogram of prewar Japanese cinema, Republic Pictures of the Samurai Land. These two movies seem to be two of those quick, cheap, entertaining fares of weekly productions. These films are not listed in NFC-MOMAT archive database, I'm afraid.
The small flyer attached at the bottom says the film was shown
in Bukkyo-Kai Hall on December 6 and 7
NIJI NI TATSU OKA was an early TOHO production, starring Hideko Takamine. The print of this film survived, but I haven't seen the film.
I don’t know if Japanese American community at the time had their own movie theaters in the area. Was Kinmon Hall the theater dedicated to Japanese shows? The small flyer attached to the poster says O-OKA-SEIDAN was going to be screened at Bukkyo-Kai Hall. I imagine that the Japanese Buddhist Temple nearby had the Hall for various activities for Japanese Americans and Japanese movie screening must have been one of them.
The movies are always with us. They witness the critical moments of our time.
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