Photo/IllutrationReplicas of movie posters and portraits of stars decorate the interior of the Ginmaku Cafe in Tsurugashima, Saitama Prefecture. (Takemichi Nishibori)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

TSURUGASHIMA, Saitama Prefecture--A cinema cafe here that shows shortened versions of classic movies is helping elderly people counter dementia by rekindling nostalgic memories and rejuvenating their brains.

The Ginmaku Cafe (silver screen cafe) in the Kamihiroya district features films dating back at least 65 years for its reminiscence therapy.

Net TV Kaisou, a video production company based in Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, opened the cafe on Feb. 4 on a trial basis. The company plans to operate similar cafes across the country in hopes of providing venues where elderly people can have fun.

Couples in their 60s and 70s and other customers at the Ginmaku Cafe are often seen chatting about their old times while enjoying coffee. Staff and other officials of nursing-home facilities also visit the place.

“Movies are filled with so much information from the past, including fashion, music and landscapes, so there are many things that can prompt us to remember the old times,” Hidetsugu Ouchi, vice president of Net TV Kaisou, said.

The 15-seat cafe has floor space of about 43 square meters and an 80-inch screen on a wall.

It shows edited versions of about 100 movies, including “Aoi Sanmyaku” (Blue mountains, 1949) and “Aizen Katsura” (1938).

After its foundation in 2016, Net TV Kaisou collected 300 out-of-copyright films made in or before 1953. It distributed DVDs to about 100 nursing-care homes and other facilities across the country to study the effects the films had on residents.

The company learned about a woman with dementia who could accurately sing the theme song to one of the films.

Each title has been shortened to 20 minutes in consideration for elderly customers who might feel tired if the entire running time of about two hours is played.

The production company made other adjustments, including superimposing the names of leading actors when they make their first appearances, to make it easier for elderly viewers to jog their memories.

Ouchi said Net TV Kaisou initially lacked the know-how to realize the cafe project. So the company applied for a program offered by the Tsurugashima city government and the city’s commerce and industry association, in which citizens planning to start up a business can rent vacant stores and receive business guidance.

An executive of Net TV Kaisou was appointed manager of the Ginmaku Cafe.

Ouchi said his company plans to expand the service nationwide by recruiting people who want to open similar cafes or introduce the system to existing shops and then renting out DVDs containing the shortened versions of the movies.

Net TV Kaisou is also considering a fee-based streaming service for contracted shops and nursing-care facilities.

The Ginmaku Cafe is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays. Coffee, tea and two other drinks cost 500 yen ($4.70) each.