Kataoka Ichitaro (片岡市太郎)

Ichitaro KATAOKA (February 13, 1877 - date of death unknown) was a Japanese actor. His real name was Suekichi TSUKAMOTO. He is known for his work as one of the leading men in several of the earliest films of director Shozo MAKINO's career; he started collaborating with Makino right from the beginning when Makino first began making films at the Yokota Shokai film studio. In later years, a child actor named Toroku MAKINO also took the stage name "Ichitaro KATAOKA," but he--fully 33 years younger than the Kataoka under discussion here--was clearly a different person entirely.

Career and personality

Kataoka was born on February 13, 1877 to Hikoemon HARASAWA, the master sculptor for Kyoto Imperial Palace, at Harasawa's house on the corner of Sakaimachi-dori and Marutamachi-dori streets, right across from the Imperial Palace. Upon his father's death in 1881, he was adopted by Seizaburo TSUKAMOTO. He began an apprenticeship under Ichizo KATAOKA, a member of the acting troupe led by Tomomatsu OTANI, and first debuted on stage under the stage name 'Ichitaro KATAOKA' at the Masagoza Theater in Kyoto. Because he was always on tour around the country with his adoptive father, he never received any formal education.

In 1894, when he was 17, Ichitaro made his stage debut at the Iwagamiza Theater
Thereafter, he joined Shinshiro ICHIKAWA's acting troupe in Nagoya and became their leading Onnagata actor (a male actor who plays women's roles). He met Shozo MAKINO, a theater owner who was one year younger than him, around the time the Ichikawa troupe started to hold regular performances at the Senbonza Theater in Kyoto. In 1908, Makino was commissioned by the Yokota Shokai film studio, run by Einosuke YOKOTA, to direct his first film, the (silent) "Honnoji Kassen" (The Battle at Honnoji Temple). This film, released on September 17, turned out to be the first of a series of films directed by Makino in which Ichitaro as one member of the Shinshiro ICHIKAWA acting troupe, would appear. After a visit in October 1909 to the Konkokyo headquarters in Okayama during which he had discovered Matsunosuke ONOE's talent and recruited him as his new leading man, Makino devoted himself entirely to filmmaking; Ichitaro appeared in Makino's first post-1909 film, "Goban Tadanobu Genji no Ishizue," playing the role of MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune. After his appearance in that film, Ichitaro ended his stage acting career and became a film actor.

Ichitaro's allegiance to Shozo MAKINO never swayed throughout Makino's career, working with Makino when the latter was employed by Yokota Shokai, and staying with Makino after Yokota Shokai was merged in 1912 to form Nikkatsu Corporation; Ichitaro followed Makino when he established the Mikado Shokai film studio to win his independence from Nikkatsu Corporation in 1919, and followed him back when he subsequently returned to Nikkatsu Corporation. During these transitional years, Ichitaro married Makino's half-sister Kyoko MAKINO, thus becoming a member of the Makino family. He and Kyoko MAKINO both appeared in the first film produced by Mikado Shokai, "Miyako ni Akogarete" (Longing for the Capital), which was directed by Bansho KANAMORI.

In June 1921, Shozo MAKINO again broke away from Nikkatsu Corporation and went independent, establishing both the Tojiin Studio and the Makino Kyoiku Eiga Seisakujo film studio and then combining those two studios into the Makino Eiga Seisakujo film studio, which he founded in 1923. Yet through all the renamings and reorganizations, Ichitaro and Hataya ICHIKAWA both continued to give Makino their unstinting support throughout his early career. The fall of 1923 saw the emergence of a new film star, Tsumasaburo BANDO, as well as young new directors Buntaro FUTAGAWA and Kintaro INOUE, both born in the twentieth century and thus still in their early twenties; consequently, Ichitaro was more and more often given roles as supporting actor, and his last leading role, acting alongside Utako TAMAKI, was in "Moyuru Uzumaki" (Burning Spiral), directed by Koroku NUMATA, which was made in 1924 when Ichitaro was forty-seven. Consequently, he retired from acting.