• Kyodo

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A ceremony was held Monday to mark the closure later this week of a famous movie studio in Kanagawa Prefecture, operated by major Japanese filmmaker and movie distributor Shochiku Co.

About 700 local residents and film industry figures attended the event at the Ofuna studio in Kamakura, including Yoji Yamada, director of the famous “Tora-san” series of movies.

Excerpts from 40 popular movies produced by the studio, such as the long-running comedy series “Otoko wa Tsuraiyo (It’s Tough Being a Man)” and the late Yasujiro Ozu’s “Tokyo Story,” were shown at the adjacent Kamakura Performing Arts Center during the day.

Opened in 1936, the studio has produced a number of situation comedies over the years.

Actress Chieko Baisho expressed sadness at the closure of the studio during an address, describing it as “a school where I learned a lot.”

Shochiku Vice President Junichi Sakomoto said the company plans to build a new studio in Tokyo’s Shinkiba district. Last week, Shochiku’s management and the labor union agreed to construct a new studio by the end of 2002.

The company’s announcement of the closure of the Ofuna studio in October 1999 was met with widespread dismay by film fans and members of the film industry.

The site has been purchased by Kamakura Women’s College.