Nearly 700 film industry figures and other guests, including director Yoji Yamada and veteran stars Chieko Baisho and Rentaro Mikuni, turned up for the ceremony held yesterday (June 26) to mark the closing of Shochiku's historic Ofuna Studio complex.

First opened in 1936 near the seaside town of Kamakura, the Ofuna Studio has been home to Akira Kurosawa, Yasujiro Ozu and other greats of Japanese cinema, as well as the site of some of the Japanese film industry's biggest box office triumphs, including Yamada's 48-episode Tora-san series.

But with hits becoming few and far between in recent years, the studio fell victim to Shochiku's restructuring axe. Following its closure at the end of June, it will be razed to make way for a construction planned by its new owner, Kamakura Women's College.

Meanwhile, Shochiku is planning to build a new studio on a 10,664 square metre site in Shin Kiba, near the Tokyo waterfront, at a projected cost of $29m (Y3bn). Although only two-thirds the size of Ofuna, the Shin Kiba studio will boast the latest digital equipment for the production of films, TV shows and commercials.

Shochiku has two other major construction projects underway. One is a 21-storey office tower being built on the site of the company's former headquarters in downtown Tokyo. Another is a seven-screen multiplex being built in Kyoto, Japan's ancient capital. Opening is scheduled for August.