What we do

Dissemination of silent films and performers in Europe and Japan

  • Organization : Association of silent film performers
  • Section : None
  • Type of Grant Program : Single
  • Art Forms : Visual Art / Media Art


This project aims to disseminate and expand the culture of katsudo-benshi and gakushi (vocal interpretation and musical accompaniment for silent films)–a Japanese cinema storytelling culture developed mainly in Tokyo–through performances and workshops in Japan and European countries (Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, etc.). At the same time, in the field of academism, the project will widely disseminate the Tokyo culture of oral-tradition performance and deepen understanding of this culture as a research subject, by assisting in a project to organize, digitalize and publicly release the University of Bonn’s archive of pre-war Japanese sound source materials.


Ichiro Kataoka began studying with the famous benshi (silent film narrator) Midori Sawato in 2002. In addition to Japan, he has toured in other countries including the United States, Germany, Australia, Croatia and Canada. To date he has worked on about 300 films from western countries, Japan and China, and in a variety of genres including animation and documentary films. Besides silent film interpretation, he is active in the fields of kamishibai (picture storytelling shows), voice acting, shoseibushi (“student songs” from the Meiji period) and writing. He has also participated as a benshi for the film “Spring Snow,” directed by Isao Yukisada, and a DVD pamphlet by Tamio Okuda. In recent years he has been staying in the United States and Germany for extended periods and focusing on the dissemination of Japanese film narration culture overseas.


Ichiro Kataoka
Association of silent film performers


University of Bonn
(Bonn, Germany)