Classic Film Theaters in Kyoto

August 14, 2008

by Ayaka Okochi

Minami Kaikan

Minami Kaikan is a small movie theater located near Toji Temple in the south part of Kyoto. The movie company RCS has handled. The movie theater since 1990, which screens more than 300 films every year.

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Kyoto is often called a movie city because of the old movie studios that are located in Uzumasa. Shochiku, a major studio, still operates in Kyoto today. Kyoto was the center of the Japanese movie industry in the 1950s and 60s. What is often screened at Kyoto movie theaters are not original movies that were made in Kyoto, but those that anyone can see in Tokyo. The number of “mini-theaters” or small independent theaters has been decreasing ever since the arrival of “cinema complexes” and also because now it is easier for people to rent movies from their neighborhood video rental shops. It is not an exaggeration to say that mini-theaters in Kyoto are rather poor when seen from a business standpoint.

Characteristics of the Mini-Theaters

Movies that are not shown in other theaters are screened in mini-theaters: documentaries, short animations, foreign films, experimental films, and old classics. Young people are able to see old films here. By watching old films, some story-telling techniques that are often used in contemporary movies can be discovered. For example, some famous directors of today sometimes use the same composition and camera angles as those pioneered by old movie directors. The mini-theater teaches us that valuable lessons are available in art from the past.


Minami Kaikan


Location: about 3 minutes on foot from Kintetsu Kyoto Line, Toji Station

Special discounts:

  • Yukata or Kimono discount: people who wear kimono or yukata from July 14th to August 31st will pay 1000 yen for all movies
  • Pair discount on Thursday: couples, parent and child, friends… any pair can get in for 2000 yen
        Schedule: there are about 20 movies being shown this month.


    Gion Kaikan

    Gion Kaikan opened as a rental hall in 1958. A piano symposium, a fashion show, and even a boxing bout were all once held there. There is a “flower road” (stage) in this movie theater because Gion Odori, a dance performance by Maiko and Geisha, is held there every November. The first performance of Gion Odori at the Gion Kaikan was in 1953. The Gion Kaikan has now become a movie theater famous for second-run double-features,so it is especially popular among students. Popular films from Japan, Hollywood, and South Korea are mostly shown. The staff thinks carefully about the combination of films. They try to select two films that work well together, or that have similar themes such as science fiction, romance or action.


    10 minutes on foot east from Hankyu Kyoto Line, Kawaramachi Station
    5 minutes on foot east from Keihan Line, Shijo Station

    adult: 1600 yen
    students (college and high school): 1300 yen
    students (junior and elementary school): 1000 yen
    senior (over 60):1000 yen

    Service every Thursday: all movies are 1000 yen

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