Hiroshima owes the Johokyaku company a debt of gratitude. Not only have they been passionate supporters of independent cinema for over half a century, they have brought movie theaters back into the city center and recaptured some of the magic of cinema going that has largely lost in the rise of the multiplex.
The original Salon Cinema, located just off the shotengai shopping arcade in Takanobashi, closed after 60 years in 2014 due to the increasingly dilapidated building (see some nice photos of the Takanobashi location just before it closed on Leah’s excellent Japan Journal). Many local cinephiles were sad to see it close, but few will grumble about the new location which increases comfort and viewing experience while maintaining an appreciation of movie history and many nods to the golden age of cinema. On my first visit, I actually overheard an elderly couple in the elevator talking about how much they loved the new place and that they used to feel quite nervous about what would happen in the event of fire in the former location.
Salon Cinema spruced up two theaters, vacated by Toei Cinemas in 2009, above the Tokyo Hands Department store and opened in autumn 2014. The two theaters seat 125 and 91 people respectively and were equipped with new seats, digital projection and high quality sound equipment. Johokyaku have always prided themselves on their sumptuous seats and Salon Cinema’s do not disappoint. The seats in theater one are designed by the Maruni furniture company
based in Yuki-cho and both theaters have a limited number of Japanese style horigotatsu seats at the back.
The lobby oozes pre-war nostalgia with its stylized elevator doors and a retro ticket booth. The domed ceiling is decorated with artists impressions of scenes from classic films, both Japanese and international. It’s fun to try and identify all the films referenced while enjoying a drink and a snack from cafe Pearl, named after a long running kissaten coffee shop in front of Hiroshima Station that was lost to redevelopment.
Salon Cinema’s seats are not only very spacious, comfortable and have lots of legroom, but those in theater one also have a nice shelf on which you can place your drinks and snacks – all very civilized.
In one last reference to Japanese cinema history, each film is introduced by a staff member dressed in happi coat from a podium, the kind of which benshi narrators would stand during screening in the silent movie era.
- Adult ¥1800
- College Students ¥1500
- Seniors (Over 60) ¥1100
- High School and younger ¥1000
- Disabled ¥1000
- Final showing of the day ¥1300
- Fridays Ladies ¥1100
- Mondays Men ¥1100
- 1st day of the month ¥1100
- 22nd of the month Couples Day ¥2200
- Couples over 50 ¥2200
- Show a copy of the “End Mark” cinema booklet for a ¥300 discount (for up to 3 people)
Address: 8th Floor Hiroshima 8F Toei Plaza Building,16-10 Hachobori, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi 730-0013
Address in Japanese: 〒730-0013 広島市中区八丁堀16-10 広島東映プラザビル8F
Schedule: http://www.johakyu.co.jp/schedule/month.html [ja]