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Tokyo: Japanese Actress Keiko Matsuzaka Joins Chen Kaige’s ‘Kukai’

Veteran Japanese actress Keiko Matsuzaka (“The Sting of Death,” “The Happiness of the Katakuris”) has joined the cast of Chen Kaige’s Chinese-Japanese co-production “Kukai.” The film is now in production in China and scheduled for release in 2018.

The period drama is based on a novel by Yumemakura Baku and stars Sometani Shota and Huang Xuan. Production is by China’ New Classics Media and Japan’s Kadokawa Corp. Toho and Kadokawa will jointly handle distribution in Japan.

The news was announced Friday at an event during the Tokyo Film Festival. It was attended by Tsuguhiko Kadokawa, chairman of Kadokawa, Yoshishige Shimatani, president & CEO, of Toho Co., as well as Matsuzaka and the author Yumemakura. Chen sent a video message from China.

First published in 2004, the four-volume novel tells the story of a young Buddhist monk (played by Sometani) who journeys to China during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) and befriends poet Rakuten Haku (Huang). Together they try to get to the root of an historical mystery. Matsuzaka plays a Japanese woman who encounters the monk in China.

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