However, it was unable to beat the latest adventure in the ever-successful animated Pokemon franchise, Gekijoban Pocket Monsters: Diamond & Pearl Dialga Vs. Palkia Vs. Darkrai.
Both films knocked reigning Hollywood titles Live Free Or Die Hard, Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End and Shrek The Third down two spots each.
Distributed by Toho, Monkey Magic earned $6.5m (Y790m) on 461 screens over the three-day weekend (Monday being a national holiday). The screen count marked the highest ever for a domestic live-action film, a record previously held by the March release of Genghis Khan on 446 screens.
Monkey Magic is Fuji TV's modern rendition of the classic Journey To The West tale and was produced by Chihiro Kameyama (Bayside Shakedown series), directed by veteran Fuji TV small screen helmer Kensaku Sawada and stars SMAP star Shingo Katori.
After the film's first day take, Toho announced a potential box office total of $48.4m (Y5.9bn) for the film's entire run. Pokemon, also distributed by Toho and a summer standby, earned $6.38m (Y780m) over the standard two-day period, almost doubling last year's installment.
While Monkey Magic is currently on track with other successful live-action domestic titles of 2007 such as Dororo ($28.2m) and Unfair: The Movie ($22.3m), it faces stiff competition in the summer season.
The fifth installment of the Harry Potter franchise opens this Friday (one day earlier than originally planned) and Pixar's Ratatouille bows on July 28. Domestic animation will also vie for a piece of the pie, with Piano No Mori (July 21) and Summer Days With Coo (July 28).
Hollywood will come back strong next month with Paramount megahit Transformers (distributed by UIP) opening August 4 and Warner Brothers' Ocean's Thirteen opening August 10.
Unlike the ever expanding parameters of 'summer movies' in the west, in Japan they fall within the confines of the calendar definition (June 21 to September 23 this year).