production notes

A Penetrating Study of the NINJA Psyche

OWLS' CASTLE is director Masahiro Shinoda's 34th motion picture. It is based on a story of medieval Japan by Ryotaro Shiba, that explores the solitary mission and lonely struggle of a Ninja assassin.

Shinoda gained widespread acclaim with works such as DOUBLE SUICIDE(1969), SILENCE(1971), MacARTHUR'S CHILDREN (1984), GONZA THE SPEARMAN (winner of the Silver Bear at the 36th Berlin International Film Festival, 1985), and SHARAKU (1995).

Director of photography is Tatsuo Suzuki who is well known for work with Shuji Terayama.

Art director is Yoshinobu Nishioka, whose triumphs include the l953 Cannes Film Festival Grand Prix winning film GATE OF HELL.

The star-studded cast includes Kiichi Nakai as Juzo, Mayu Tsuruta as Kohagi, Riona Hazuki as Kisaru, Takaya Kamikawa as Gohei, and Mako as Shogun Hideyoshi.

Cinematography, sets, costumes, etc. are sumptuous.The picture is slated for completion in June, 1999, and will be released in Japan in autumn 1999.


In 1581 Japan's most powerful warlord, Nobunaga Oda, with 50, 000 soldiers, wages war on the province of Iga. The area is targeted because it is the center of "shinobi," the martial art practiced by Ninja. Nobunaga had become concerned that the Ninja were gaining power and could cause disorder among clans that might result in civil war. Ten years later, Nobunaga's successor, Hideyoshi Toyotomi, unifies the country as Shogun.

Juzo (Kiichi Nakai), one of the few survivors of Nobunaga's carnage, is a skilled Ninja. After fleeing from Iga, he stays in the mountains like a hermit until his former master gives him the mission to go to Kyoto, the capital, to assassinate Shogun Hideyoshi. This gives Juzo a chance also to avenge the massacre of his family at the hands of Nobunaga.

On his way to Kyoto, Juzo is approached by a mysterious young woman, Kohagi((Mayu Tsuruta). They are strongly attracted to each other and become lovers even though Juzo knows she is a spy and that her goal is to learn about the plot against Hideyoshi.Gohei(Takaya Kamikawa), who works for the city magistrate in Kyoto but was formerly a student of "shinobi" under Juzo's master, is determined to stop Juzo.He believes that if he succeeds, he will be re-instated to the life as a samurai.

Juzo faithfully pursues Hideyoshi, all the while dealing with interference set up by Gohei. When he finally manages to sneak into Hideyoshi's private rooms, he has second thoughts....




Kiichi NAKAI as Tsuzura Juzo

Mayu TSURUTA as Kohagi

Riona HAZUKI as Kisaru

Takaya KAMIKAWA as Kazama Gohei

Toshiya NAGASAWA as Marishiten, Dogen
Jinpachi NEZU as Hattori Hanzo
Gaku YAMAMOTO as Shimotsuge Jirozaemon
Shohei HINO as Kuroami
Takashi TSUMURA as Maeda Gen-i
Mako IWAMATSU as Toyotomi Hideyoshi

Toshio KAKEI as Kumobei
Kinnosuke HANAYAGI as Ishida Mitsunari
Takeshi WAKAMATSU as Ueno Yahei

Haruko MABUCHI as Kusunoki
Nobuko TANAKA as Yodogimi

Shoichi OZAWA as Imai Sokyu
Akira NAKAO as Tokugawa Ieyasu

Atsuo NAKAMURA as Tsuzura Tarobei & Narration

Shima IWASHITA as Kitanomandokoro (special presentation)


Director: Masahiro SHINODA

Original Story: Ryotaro SHIBA

Screenplay: Masahiro SHINODA, Katsuo NARITA

Producers: Masaru KAKUTANI, Masaru KOIBUCHI

Executive Producer: Shigeaki HAZAMA

Director of Photography: Tatsuo SUZUKI
Art Director: Yoshinobu NISHIOKA
Costume Design: Setsu ASAKURA
Music Director: Joji YUASA

Production: Fuji Television / Hyogensha
Presented by Owls' Castle Project (Fuji Television, Toho, Nintendo, Heiwa, Sankei Newspaper, Nippon Broadcasting, Sankei Living News, Pony Canyon, Imagica)


1999/Color/Vista/Dolby Digital,DTS/138min
Directed by Masahiro SHINODA@ Original Story by Ryotaro SHIBA
(C)1999 Owls' Castle Project