Japanese helmer readies follow up to 'Departures'

TOKYO — Yojiro Takita has set the main cast for period drama “Tenchi Meisatsu,” his first film after 2008 foreign-language film Oscar winner “Departures.”

Junichi Okada, of uber-boy band V6, will star as Yasui Santetsu, a real-life 17th-century master of shogi (a Japanese version of chess) and astronomer. Aoi Miyazaki (“Nana”) will play his wife. Other cast include Kiichi Nakai plus father and son Kabuki stars Kojiro Matsumoto and Somegoro Ichikawa.

Based on Tow Ubukata’s bestseller, the pic, which Takita is co-scripting, focuses on Santetsu from ages 22 to 45, when he took on the formidable task of devising a new calendar for Japan.

Shooting at the Shochiku Kyoto Studio is skedded to start on Thursday and wrap in August.

A fall 2012 release has been penciled in, with Shochiku distribbing. “Departures” raked in $38 million in Japan following its September 2008 release. – — Mark Schilling

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