Movie sign painters are very scarce in Japan. Once a thriving career in the golden age of cinema, only a handful of them are active today, carrying on the analog tradition of painstakingly creating signs with paint and brush, decorating movie theaters with vivid images of both domestic and foreign films.

In Osaka, the second-largest city of the nation, Jōji Hachijō 八条祥治 is the sole representative of the art, mainly contracted to the Shinsekai Kokusai Movie Theater 新世界国際劇場, a building which exudes Showa Era nostalgia situated a stone's thrown from the landmark Tsūtenkaku Tower. Sankei News interviewed the artist earlier this year and posted it to their YouTube channel on July 25th, 2020 (see below).

© Sankei News | YouTube: "大阪最後の映画看板職人"

Hachijō's handiwork on display in a sign for the Hindi-language period drama film Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi | © Sankei News | YouTube: "大阪最後の映画看板職人"

Working from his studio in the Nishinari neighborhood, where he is surrounded by Hollywood posters and memorabilia, the 66-year-old veteran brings film scenes to life on his canvas, taking images and fliers from promotional materials and turning them into attractive full-sized signs.

© Sankei News | YouTube: "大阪最後の映画看板職人"

"I make efforts to bring out the actors' expressions," Hachijō explains. "I use brushstrokes to give the faces impact, layering colors to create warmth and depth to make them stand out."

Hachijō putting finishing touches on Seth Rogen's face in a sign for the 2019 film Long Shot | © Sankei News | YouTube: "大阪最後の映画看板職人"

Hachijō has been working as a movie sign painter for four decades now, but demand continues. "I'm always busy," he admits. "But I enjoy what I do." And he has no intention of quitting any time soon. "As long as theaters are there and as long as I have my health, I'd like to continue painting," he says, flashing a winning smile.

© Sankei News | YouTube: "大阪最後の映画看板職人"

By - Ben K.