Seitaro Kitayama

Author [First name / Last name] Seitaro Kitayama
Japanese (Katakana) キタヤマ セイタロウ
Japanese (Kanji) 北山清太郎
Born Mar 3, 1888
Died Feb 13, 1945
Introduction Born 1888, in Wakayama. In the art world, Kitayama supported young artists by publishing their works and providing them with drawing supplies. In the animation industry, he increased commissions to artists with talent and organized group production structures to handle mass production demands. In such ways, Kitayama proved to be both an artist and a businessman.
Seitaro Kitayama


Born on March 3, 1888 in Wakayama, and died on February 13, 1945.

In 1911, Kitayama became an apprentice to Tojiro Oshita and, while studying painting, also helped out with editing the art magazine Mizue (みずゑ). He soon moved to Tokyo and established the Western Art Guild of Japan and published Contemporary Western Art (現代の洋画). He later joined the Fusain Art Group as a manager where he would support young western-style artists such as Ryusei Kishida and Sohachi Kimura by providing art supplies, in addition to holding exhibitions and publishing catalogues. On the other hand, he entered the Nikkatsu Mukojima Studio in 1916, proposed the inclusion of illustrations in intertitles, and made this his work. It was there that one of the first Japanese animations, Monkey and Crabs (猿蟹合戦) released in May 1917 was created. Kitayama then proposed the production of animation, which he held an interest in, to the Nikkatsu executives. Following positive reviews of his debut work, Nikkatsu continued to produce animations. Kitayama was able to create animations at the high pace of over ten films a year by forming a group production system that included individuals such as Zenjiro (Sanae) Yamamoto and Hiroshi Mineda in drawing and Kiichiro Kanai in cinematography. In 1921, Kitayama left Nikkatsu and established the independent Kitayama Eiga Seisakusho. The studio was destroyed during the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake and Kitayama moved to Osaka. There, he worked as a newsreel cameraman for the Osaka Mainichi Shinbun, but never re-established an animation studio.

Works on this site

The latest research has revealed that the film identified on this website as Urashima Taro (supposed title), which was so named on the basis that it was believed to be a work by Seitaro Kitayama that was originally released in 1918, is actually a different film.

Based on its content and the circumstances prevailing at the time of its discovery, the film identified on this website as Urashima Taro was presumed to be a work produced by Kitayama at the film studio of Nippon Katsudo Shashin Corporation (Nikkatsu) in 1918. Recently, however, stills from the film Urashima Taro released by Nikkatsu in 1918 have been discovered in a magazine. These stills do not appear in the film identified on this website as Urashima Taro, so we are led to believe that this film is not the work produced by Kitayama at the Nikkatsu studio. For this reason, we have decided to exclude Urashima Taro (supposed title) from the list of Kitayama's work.

For further details, see NFC Newsletter No. 132. (Japanese text only)

References (Japanese Only)

津堅信之『日本初のアニメーション作家 北山清太郎』臨川書店、2007年7月20日。NFC図書:請求記号S-751。
安田節子編『日本アニメーション創始者 北山清太郎傳』改訂6版、安田彪、2008年11月。NFC図書:請求記号T-756。
青木加苗、宮本久宣編『動き出す!絵画 ペール北山の夢 モネ、ゴッホ、ピカソらと大正の若き洋画家たち』和歌山県立近代美術館、東京ステーションギャラリー、下関市立美術館、読売新聞社、美術館連絡協議会、2016年9月17日。

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