Kyoto makes plea for more samurai dramas

Government execs pitch Japan's TV networks

Tokyo — Government officials from Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital and a one-time major producer of samurai period dramas, visited three commercial networks in Tokyo on Tuesday to plead for more production in the genre.

The highly unusual pitch comes at a time when TV viewers have been turning away from feudal-era shows, long a favorite with the over-50 demographic.

Kyoto prefectural governor Keiji Yamada and Kyoto mayor Daisaku Kadokawa decided to make the rounds of Tokyo Broadcasting System, TV Tokyo and TV Asahi after TBS canceled “Mito Komon,” a period drama about a justice-seeking, white-bearded lord that has been running almost continuously since 1969.

The net will air the 1,227th and final episode on Dec. 19. Despite stories set all over Japan, the show was shot almost entirely in and around Kyoto.

With the exception of pubcaster NHK’s “Taiga Drama” — 52-week skeins set in various eras of Japanese history that NHK has commissioned each year since 1963 — the period drama has all but vanished from terrestrial airwaves.

The pols made a written plea for a restart of genre, saying that its smallscreen disappearance will erode know-how of traditional arts and crafts, from costume-making to hair-styling.

They also noted that the genre teaches Japanese culture to a new generation.

Not incidentally it has also been a major source of revenue for the city, with the Toei Uzumasa and Shochiku Kyoto studios once churning out dozens of samurai costume dramas for film and TV.

TV Tokyo, the smallest of the five commercial networks, has agreed to launch a new period drama, “Nagaremono Orin 2,” in January, but the others have not yet replied to the Kyoto request.

Production of samurai-themed pics has also fallen sharply since the 1950s peak, when the genre accounted for half of all film production in Japan. The few that are made are still popular at the box office, such as Takashi Miiike’s 2010 hit “13 Assassins,” which also sold widely abroad.

More TV

  • Late-Night TV's Growing Problem: Maybe There's

    Late-Night TV Has a Growing Problem: Maybe There's Too Much of It

    Tokyo — Government officials from Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital and a one-time major producer of samurai period dramas, visited three commercial networks in Tokyo on Tuesday to plead for more production in the genre. The highly unusual pitch comes at a time when TV viewers have been turning away from feudal-era shows, long a favorite […]

  • David Harbour'Stranger Things' event, Los Angeles,

    'Stranger Things' Season 3 Is Inspired by 1985's 'Fletch' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Tokyo — Government officials from Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital and a one-time major producer of samurai period dramas, visited three commercial networks in Tokyo on Tuesday to plead for more production in the genre. The highly unusual pitch comes at a time when TV viewers have been turning away from feudal-era shows, long a favorite […]

  • Disney Channel logo

    TV News Roundup: Disney Channel Announces 'Coop & Cami' Premiere Date

    Tokyo — Government officials from Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital and a one-time major producer of samurai period dramas, visited three commercial networks in Tokyo on Tuesday to plead for more production in the genre. The highly unusual pitch comes at a time when TV viewers have been turning away from feudal-era shows, long a favorite […]

  • Star Wars Resistance Trailer

    'Star Wars Resistance': Disney Drops Trailer for 'The Force Awakens' Prequel Series

    Tokyo — Government officials from Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital and a one-time major producer of samurai period dramas, visited three commercial networks in Tokyo on Tuesday to plead for more production in the genre. The highly unusual pitch comes at a time when TV viewers have been turning away from feudal-era shows, long a favorite […]

  • Michelle Wolf Joel McHale

    Michelle Wolf, Joel McHale Talk Shows Canceled by Netflix

    Tokyo — Government officials from Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital and a one-time major producer of samurai period dramas, visited three commercial networks in Tokyo on Tuesday to plead for more production in the genre. The highly unusual pitch comes at a time when TV viewers have been turning away from feudal-era shows, long a favorite […]

  • Jeremy Corbyn Brexit

    British Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn to Deliver Edinburgh TV Festival Lecture

    Tokyo — Government officials from Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital and a one-time major producer of samurai period dramas, visited three commercial networks in Tokyo on Tuesday to plead for more production in the genre. The highly unusual pitch comes at a time when TV viewers have been turning away from feudal-era shows, long a favorite […]

  • The Affair

    The Debate Over 'The Affair' Star Ruth Wilson's Awkward Exit (Column)

    Tokyo — Government officials from Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital and a one-time major producer of samurai period dramas, visited three commercial networks in Tokyo on Tuesday to plead for more production in the genre. The highly unusual pitch comes at a time when TV viewers have been turning away from feudal-era shows, long a favorite […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content