by Chris MaGee
There are only a few actors currently working regularly in Japan who can boast of having worked with some of the country's most revered film-makers over the past four decades. One of those rare actors is 70-year-old Yoshio Harada (above right). In the 70's and 80's Harada worked with such legendary directors as Seijun Suzuki and Shuji Terayama and he continues to star in films by a new generation of film-making stars such as Toshiaki Toyoda and Hirokazu Koreeda. With this kind of track record any new project from Harada is welcome news, but when you hear that Harada himself is instrumental and getting a film made then it's time to really sit up and take notice.
This is the case with "Oshika-mura Soudouki". Harada came up with the story idea about an elderly man named Zen who runs a restaurant in Oshika, Nagano, purportedly the most beautiful town in Japan. One day Zen finds himself playing host to his ex-wife and the man that she left Zen for nearly two decades earlier. It turns out that Zen's ex, a former kabuki actress, is now suffering from dementia and Zen decides the only thing that may help her is to put on a kabuki performance for her to star in.
Harada approached director Junji Sakamoto (Kao, Chameleon, Zatoichi: The Last) with this idea and the project immediately went into production. Harada will star in "Oshika-mura Soudouki" as the aging Zen while Michiyo Okusu (Zigeunerweisen)will portray his ex-wife and Ittoku Kishibe will play the man that stole her away from Zen. Takako Matsu, and Koichi Sato round out the cast.
Japanese audiences can expect to see more of Harada in his kabuki make-up (above left) when "Oshika-mura Soudouki" is released in theatres on July 16th. Thanks to Tokyograph for the news and Yahoo Japan for the promo still.