The End of an Era

Mito Komon

One of Japanese TV’s longest running shows came to a close last night. Old school to the bitter end, the “Mito Komon” jidai-geki ran on the TBS network since August 1969. The last episode, an extended special that featured many past regulars, drew an audience rating of 13.9% in and around Tokyo and over 17% in Nagoya. Not stellar figures but respectable enough for a show that had long lost its appeal for the younger demographic.

The show told the fictional traveling tales of the historical daimyo (regional lord) Tokugawa Mitsukuni (1628-1701), with five actors playing the lead role over the years. The original and best remembered was Tohno Eijiro (1907-94), who played the role for 13 years. Satomi Kotaro (75) was the last, having played a different supporting role in the series some years next to Tohno. The show always built to a climax, when the unarmed main characters would be engaged in a swordfight with the villains. One of Mito Komon’s sidekicks would wield his master’s inro (a case bearing his family crest) and shout the famous catchphrase, “Kono mondokoro ga me ni hairanuka” (Can you not see this emblem?). Whereupon the goateed star’s true identity would be revealed and the villains would instantly surrender and beg forgiveness. See the short video clip below.