A redevelopment plan named “Asakusa Rokku (Six Ward) Revival Project” is being initiated by TOKYO ROCK CITY, a new joint venture consisting of leading Pachinko company Maruhan, Shochiku, leading entertainment company Amuse and Asakusa tourism planner SGRS.
This government/private sector project aims to rejuvenate the Asakusa sixth ward and its surrounding town of Asakusa by means of live entertainment, creating a lively city full of people. Its first effort is the redevelopment of the area around Asakusa Drama Hall (which housed the Asakusa Chuei Theater) and the Asakusa New Drama Hall, both of which closed down last year. In their place a compound entertainment facility complete with two theaters, play facility and restaurants is expected to open next December, under the name of Maruhan Shochiku Rokku Tower. The exterior of the tower replicates the design of Ryōunkaku, former symbol of Asakusa built in the Meiji era and dismantled in the aftermath of the Great Kanto Earthquake. The building is scheduled to have eight stories above ground and one below.
The content of the theater stages will be produced and administrated by TOKYO ROCK CITY and not consigned to another company. Amuse’s Representative Director and President Yokichi Osato will assume the post of General Producer to produce and stage mostly plays for both the midsize and small theaters, with global launch in prospective sight.
Asakusa Rokku (sixth ward) is located on the west side of Sensō-ji and at its center is the 300-meter long Rokku Broadway. In was here that Japan’s first permanent cinema opened in the Meiji era, and in the Taisho era, the operetta-style “Asakusa Opera” became all the rage with its stars such as the “Japanese King of Comedy” Kenichi Enomoto. After WWII the area still thrived as the center of theater, cinema and Rakugo, the Furansu-za (French Theater) in particular producing numerous entertainers such as Beat Takeshi (Takeshi Kitano) and Kinichi Hagimoto. The ensuing introduction of the TV was among the factors that contributed to the eventual closing of the last of those cinemas. Asakusa today is visited by twenty million sightseers every year from inside and outside of Japan. The opening of TOKYO SKYTREE last year and the Sumida River Activation Project are offering elements of major change to this traditional part of Tokyo.