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Toho Co., Ltd.
Native name
Tōhō Kabushiki-gaisha
Company typePublic
TYO: 9602
FSE: 9602
Nikkei 225 component (TYO)
  • Tokyo-Takarazuka Theatre Company[1]
  • Photo Chemical Laboratory Co., Ltd.[1]
  • J.O. Studio[1]
  • Toho Film Distribution Co., Ltd.[1]
FoundedAugust 12, 1932; 91 years ago (1932-08-12) (as Tokyo-Takarazuka Theatre Company)
Tokyo, Japan
FounderIchizō Kobayashi
HeadquartersYūrakuchō, Chiyoda, ,
Area served
Worldwide, mainly Japan
Key people
Hiroyasu Matsuoka
(CEO, president and director)[2]
Minami Ichikawa
(Senior Managing Executive Officer)[2]
ProductsMotion pictures
Television programs
Video games
ServicesFilm production[2]
Film distribution[2]
Movie theatres[2]
Number of employees
ParentHankyu Hanshin Toho Group[a]
  • Motion Picture Department
  • Theatrical Department
  • Corporate Real Estate Department
  • Toho Studios
  • International Television Films
  • Toho-Towa
  • Toho Cinemas
  • Toho Entertainment
  • Toho Music
  • Toho Eizo Bijutsu
  • Toho Costume
  • Toho Stage Craft
  • Toho Stella
  • Toho International
  • Toho Retail
  • Toho Marketing
  • Toho Facilities
  • Toho Building Management
  • Toho Animation
  • Science Saru

Toho Co., Ltd. (東宝株式会社, Tōhō Kabushiki-gaisha) is a Japanese entertainment company primarily engaged in the production and distribution of films and the production and exhibition of stage plays. Its headquarters is in Chiyoda, Tokyo, and is one of the core companies of the Osaka-based Hankyu Hanshin Toho Group. Toho is best known for producing and distributing many of Ishirō Honda and Eiji Tsuburaya's kaiju and tokusatsu films as well as the films of Akira Kurosawa and the anime films of Studio Ghibli, CoMix Wave Films, TMS Entertainment, and OLM, Inc. The company has released the majority of the highest-grossing Japanese films, and through its subsidiaries, the company is the largest film importer in Japan.

Toho's most famous creation is Godzilla, who is featured in 32 of the company's films. Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, King Ghidorah, and Mechagodzilla are described as Toho's Big Five because of the monsters' numerous appearances throughout the franchise, as well as spin-offs. Toho has also been involved in the production of numerous anime titles. Its subdivisions are Toho-Towa Company, Limited (Japanese exclusive theatrical distributor of Universal Pictures via NBCUniversal Entertainment Japan), Towa Pictures Company Limited (Japanese exclusive theatrical distributor of Paramount Pictures), Toho Pictures Incorporated, Toho International Inc., Toho E. B. Company Limited, and Toho Music Corporation & Toho Costume Company Limited. The company is the largest shareholder (7.96%) of Fuji Media Holdings Inc.

Toho is one of the four members of the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan (MPPAJ), is the largest of Japan's Big Four film studios, and is the only film studio that is a component of the Nikkei 225 index.


This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (July 2022)

Toho was created by the founder of the Hankyu Railway, Ichizō Kobayashi, in 1932 as the Tokyo-Takarazuka Theatre Company (株式会社東京宝塚劇場, Kabushiki gaisha Tōkyō Takarazuka Gekijō). It managed much of the kabuki in Tokyo and, among other properties, the eponymous Tokyo Takarazuka Theatre and the Imperial Garden Theater in Tokyo; Toho and Shochiku enjoyed a duopoly over theaters in Tokyo for many years.[citation needed]

Labor disputes (1946–1948)

Main article: Toho strikes

American soldiers outside Toho Studios in August 1948 due to the intensity of the third dispute

After the end of World War II, the new Occupation government allowed and encouraged the formation of labor unions, which had been banned under the Imperial government.[3] During a general strike of film studio employees beginning in October 1946, a group of Toho's ten top stars led by Denjiro Okochi split from the main Toho union along with 445 employees. During the resolution of the strike, a closed-shop provision with the main union led to the establishment of the Shintoho Company, which comprised the members of the dissenting union and former Toho facilities.[4]

The loss of major stars led to the hiring and training of new stars, including Toshiro Mifune.[4] The contract made after the strike stipulated that Toho would only produce films approved by a committee that included union members, which led to filmmakers gaining unprecedented creative and productive control over their films.[4] While Toho produced only thirteen films in 1947, six Toho films, including One Wonderful Sunday, directed by Akira Kurosawa, were ranked among the best ten films of the year in Kinema Junpo.[4] However, each film had double or triple the budget of films produced by other studios, and the company suffered severe losses.[5]

In 1948, the new Toho president Tetsuzo Watanabe ordered a return of the wartime quota of 24 films per year and the end of control over production by the union. In April, Toho management announced the dismissal of 1200 employees,[6] with the aim of both cutting expenses and eliminating Communist leaders from the union.[7] Negotiations failed and the union occupied the studio on April 15, joined by activists from the Japan Communist Party and other organizations, erecting barricades and closing the main gates.[6]

On August 13, the Tokyo District Court decided in Toho's favor,[6] and on the morning of August 19, a district police chief arrived at the front gate to read out the court decision. Two thousand policemen surrounded the studio, reinforced by soldiers, three airplanes, and several armored cars and tanks sent by the U.S. Eighth Army.[6][8] The union leaders agreed to end their occupation on the condition the union was not disbanded.[6]

Toho was severely weakened after the strikes and produced only four films in 1948 and five films in 1949, and continued to distribute Shintoho films until the end of 1949.[9]

International expansion (1953–present)

See also: Toho International

In May 1953, Toho established Toho International, a Los Angeles-based subsidiary intended to target North American and Latin American markets. Seven Samurai was among the first films offered for foreign sales.[10]

The Hibiya Godzilla Square located nearby the headquarters in Chiyoda, Tokyo

Toho and Shochiku competed with the influx of Hollywood films and boosted the film industry by focusing on new directors of the likes of Akira Kurosawa, Kon Ichikawa, Keisuke Kinoshita, Ishirō Honda, and Kaneto Shindo.[11]

After several successful film exports to the United States during the 1950s through Henry G. Saperstein, Toho took over the La Brea Theatre in Los Angeles to show its films without the need to sell them to a distributor. It was known as the Toho Theatre from the late 1960s until the 1970s.[12] Toho also had a theater in San Francisco and opened a theater in New York City in 1963.[13] The Shintoho Company, which existed until 1961, was named New Toho because it broke off from the original company.[14] Toho has contributed to the production of some American films, including Sam Raimi's 1998 film, A Simple Plan[15] and Paul W. S. Anderson's 2020 military science fiction/kaiju film, Monster Hunter.[16]

In 2019, Toho invested ¥15.4 billion ($14 million) into their Los Angeles-based subsidiary Toho International Inc. as part of their "Toho Vision 2021 Medium-term Management Strategy", a strategy to increase content, platform, real-estate, beat JPY50 billion profits, and increase character businesses on Toho intellectual properties such as Godzilla. Hiroyasu Matsuoka was named the representative director of the US subsidiary.[17]

In 2020, Toho acquired a 34.8% stake in the animation studio TIA, with ILCA and Anima each retaining a 32.6% stake. In 2022, Toho acquired Anima's 32.6% stake to take a controlling 67.4% stake in TIA, making the studio a subsidiary, and ultimately renaming the studio into Toho Animation Studios.[18]

In December 2023, Toho announced their intent to acquire a 25% stake in Fifth Season for $225 million via Toho International. Following the completion of the deal, Fifth Season will be valued at $900 million; CJ ENM will remain the majority shareholder in the company, with former owner Endeavor also continuing to serve as a strategic shareholder. CEOs Graham Taylor and Chris Rice stated that this investment would empower the company to continue the expansion of its premium slate and create opportunities for collaboration between Fifth Season, Toho and CJ ENM to produce global content as well as content produced in Japan.[19]

Following the success of Godzilla Minus One (2023) as their first self-distributed film in the U.S., Toho declared in March 2024 that Godzilla is their "Intellectual property (IP) treasure" and they had regained retailing rights overseas (which were once abandoned), and now are able to sell, advertise, and distribute their own products to consumers outside Japan directly.[20] The company also said that the film winning Best Visual Effects at the 96th Academy Awards is helping them gain more recognition and advancing more business extension overseas.[21]

Productions and distributions


Main article: List of Toho films




Toho Animation

Toho Animation is a Japanese anime production founded in 2012, and owned by Toho Co., Ltd., which is one of the top three film distributors in Japan.


Toho has produced revivals and original works. Years shown refer to when they staged each piece.

Video games

In more recent years and for a period, they have produced video games. One of their first video games was the 1990 NES game titled Circus Caper. Later, they followed with a series of games based on Godzilla and a 1992 game called Serizawa Nobuo no Birdy Try. It also published games such as Super Aleste (Space Megaforce in North America). They even worked with Bandai on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, released in Japan in 1988 and in the United States in 1989.

Significant employees

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (May 2023)

Toho Cinderella Audition

The Toho Cinderella Audition is an audition to discover new young actresses, first held in 1984 and irregularly held since then. It is considered one of Japan's "Big Three Actress Auditions", along with Oscar Promotion's National Bishōjo Contest and Horipro's Talent Scout Caravan.[31]

No. Year The Grand Prix Special Jury Prize Others
1 1984 Yasuko Sawaguchi Minako Fujishiro
2 1987 Megumi Odaka Maki Mizuno
3 1991 Keiko Imamura Sayaka Ōsawa
4 1996 Maho Nonami Misato Tanaka
Asami Yamamoto
5 2000 Masami Nagasawa Chihiro Otsuka
6 2006 Manami Kurose Yūko Masumoto
Ayaka Ikezawa
7 2011 Moka Kamishiraishi Mone Kamishiraishi
Narumi Akizuki
Junna Matsushima
Hirona Yamazaki
Ryō Ogawa (New Generation Award)
Minami Hamabe (New Generation Award)
8 2016 Riko Fukumoto Yuria Kakizawa
Hina Suzuki
Amane Kamiya
Neo Inoue
9 2022 Noa Shiroyama Airi Nishikawa Kōe Odani (Men's category "Toho New Face")
Honoha Yamato (Musical Award)
Riana Hirano (Finalist)


Toho's headquarters, the Toho Hibiya Building (東宝日比谷ビル, Tōhō Hibiya Biru), are in Yūrakuchō, Chiyoda, Tokyo. The company moved into its current headquarters in April 2005.[32]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Tanaka, Tomoyuki (1983). "Toho Special Effects Prehistory Films". The Complete History of Toho Special Effects Movies (in Japanese). Toho Publishing. pp. 82–83. ISBN 4-924609-00-5.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "企業概要". Toho. Retrieved March 13, 2024.
  3. ^ Hirano, Kyōko (1992). Mr. Smith Goes to Tokyo: The Japanese Cinema Under the American Occupation. Smithsonian Institution Press. p. 205. ISBN 9781560981572. Retrieved November 4, 2023.
  4. ^ a b c d Hirano (1992), pp. 218–223
  5. ^ Richie, Donald; Anderson, Joseph L. (1982). The Japanese Film: Art and Industry (Expanded ed.). Princeton University Press. p. 166. ISBN 9780691053516. Retrieved November 4, 2023.
  6. ^ a b c d e Hirano (1992), pp. 223-229
  7. ^ "Japan's movie-makers move to oust communist elements". Nippon Times. April 9, 1948.
  8. ^ Richie & Anderson (1982), p. 170
  9. ^ Hirano (1992), pp. 230-236
  10. ^ Ryfle & Godziszewski 2017, p. 148.
  11. ^ Kindem, Gorham Anders (2000). The international movie industry. Carbondale : Southern Illinois University Press. p. 17.
  12. ^ Fox La Brea Theatre in Los Angeles, CA. Cinema Treasures. Retrieved on 2014-05-12.
  13. ^ "Toho" Far East Film News December 25, 1963.
  14. ^ "Nudes! Guns! Ghosts! The Sensational Cinema of Shintoho". The Cinematheque. Archived from the original on August 6, 2019. Retrieved May 10, 2022.
  15. ^ Cox, Dan (December 21, 1997). "Fonda has 'A Simple Plan'". Variety. Retrieved July 15, 2018.
  16. ^ "映画 モンスターハンター". Toho (in Japanese). Retrieved May 10, 2022.
  17. ^ Frater, Patrick (April 18, 2019). "'Godzilla' Owner Toho Poised for Expansion in Hollywood". Variety. Archived from the original on April 18, 2019. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
  18. ^ Pineda, Rafael Antonio (September 20, 2022). "TOHO Acquires Controlling Stake in TIA, Renames it to Toho Animation Studio". Anime News Network. Retrieved December 18, 2022.
  19. ^ Shackleton, Liz (December 10, 2023). "Japan's Toho Acquires 25% Stake In Fifth Season; Korea's CJ ENM Remains Majority Shareholder". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 11, 2023.
  20. ^ "東宝「ゴジラ-1.0」アカデミー賞受賞が開く海外市場". The Nikkei (in Japanese). March 11, 2024. Retrieved March 13, 2024.
  21. ^ "「ゴジラビジネス」完全覚醒 東宝、商品化権買い戻し - 日本経済新聞". The Nikkei (in Japanese). March 12, 2024. Retrieved March 13, 2024.
  22. ^ "作品一覧/PSYCHO-PASS サイコパス/TOHO animation STORE | 東宝アニメーションストア". Tohoanimationstore.com. Retrieved March 3, 2022.
  23. ^ "ファンタジスタドール – アニメ|東宝WEB SITE". Toho.co.jp. Retrieved March 3, 2022.
  24. ^ "メガネブ! – アニメ|東宝WEB SITE". Toho.co.jp. Retrieved March 3, 2022.
  25. ^ "アオハライド – アニメ|東宝WEB SITE". Toho.co.jp. Retrieved March 3, 2022.
  26. ^ "『セブンナイツ レボリューション -英雄の継承者-』 – アニメ|東宝WEB SITE". Toho.co.jp. Retrieved March 3, 2022.
  27. ^ "Kaiju No. 8 Manga Gets Anime". Anime News Network. Retrieved August 4, 2022.
  28. ^ 中川, 實穗 (March 19, 2024). "ミュージカル『ジョジョの奇妙な冒険 ファントムブラッド』観劇レポート | ローチケ演劇宣言!". engekisengen.com (in Japanese). Retrieved July 9, 2024.
  29. ^ "ミュージカル「この世界の片隅に」を見たワハハ(小原篤のアニマゲ丼):朝日新聞デジタル". www.asahi.com. Retrieved July 9, 2024.
  30. ^ Galbraith, Stuart IV (2002). The Emperor and the Wolf: The Lives and Films of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune. Faber and Faber, Inc. pp. 25, 440. ISBN 978-0-571-19982-2.
  31. ^ 日本経済新聞社・日経BP社 (August 11, 2016). "長澤まさみらを輩出 「東宝シンデレラ」が新時代へ|エンタメ!|NIKKEI STYLE". NIKKEI STYLE (in Japanese). Retrieved July 1, 2022.
  32. ^ "会社の沿革". Toho. Retrieved on February 26, 2010. "2005年4月 東宝本社を東宝日比谷ビル(東京都千代田区有楽町一丁目2-2)に移転。"



  1. ^ The controlling shareholders of Toho are affiliated with the Hankyu Hanshin Toho Group. They are: Hankyu Hanshin Holdings (12.81%), Hankyu Hanshin Properties (8.51%), and H2O Retailing (7.67%).