Photo/IllutrationA worker takes down a painting of a poster of Yasujiro Ozu’s “Late Spring” from a building wall in Tokyo’s Ome on Oct. 19. (Saki Rin)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

Goodnight, sweet prince.

Vintage paintings of classic film titles, once a boon to Tokyo’s sleepy Ome city, have been taken down after adorning streets for a quarter of a century.

The large hand-painted posters, which could be seen at various spots on the Sumiecho shopping street near JR Ome Station, have been much-loved by residents and visitors for the past 24 years.

Work to remove the paintings started Oct. 19, with Yasujiro Ozu’s “Late Spring” the first to go.

“They were a tourism asset for Ome,” said Hidetoshi Yokokawa, 83, the vice chief director of the shopping street’s business association. “They will be greatly missed.”

The street had promoted itself as a “Showa Era” town by displaying the retro film posters of such classics as Yoji Yamada’s “Otoko wa Tsuraiyo” series, Blake Edwards’ “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and John Ford’s “My Darling Clementine.”

Middle-aged and older people alike were drawn to the area’s nostalgic atmosphere, contributing to local businesses.

The paintings were all produced by the artist calling himself Bankan, whose real name was Noboru Kubo, based on posters from the time of cinematic roadshows. Referred to as the “last film poster painter,” Kubo died at the age of 77 in February.

The area used to be home to three movie houses, and the prolific Kubo painted between 3,000 and 4,000 posters for the theaters over 16 years after leaving junior high school.

After the cinemas closed, Kubo worked as a commercial signage painter but started painting film posters again when the business association contacted him for the project.

The association decided to take them down, as Kubo can no longer retouch them, and some were deteriorating after being exposed to the elements over the years.