Photo/IllutrationThe ruins of Takeda Castle in Asago, Hyogo Prefecture, have been used for on-location shooting for movies. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

  • Photo/Illustraion

KAMIKAWA, Hyogo Prefecture--In a bid to increase tourism, local government officials founded the Hyogo Medio Film Commission (HMFC) to bring production crews to the area to shoot movies, TV shows and commercials.

Asago city, the towns of Kamikawa and Ichikawa and other parties established the film commission on Nov. 12.

“We want to attract major productions one way or another and increase the number of visitors making pilgrimages to on-location shooting sites to help revitalize the local economies,” said Kazuhisa Yamashita, 59, chief of Kamikawa’s regional development section who also serves as HMFC chairman.

Known as a major spot in western Japan where “susuki” pampas grass grows in clusters, the Tonomine Plateau in Kamikawa has been used in the feature film adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s “Norwegian Wood.” It was also shown in Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK)’s annual yearlong historical drama series “Gunshi Kanbei” and “Taira no Kiyomori.”

The Takeda Castle ruins, aka the “castle in the sky,” in Asago have been featured in such movies as “Dearest,” starring Ken Takakura, and “Tenchi: The Samurai Astronomer,” starring Junichi Okada.

“If you use both the Tonomine Plateau and Takeda Castle ruins, which you can travel between in under an hour, you can make a period drama,” an HMFC official said.

The film commission set up its secretariat in a video production company in Kamikawa.

Members will produce promotional clips and a map showing possible shooting sites. They will also attend events for filmmakers in Tokyo and other occasions in hopes of bringing filming to the Hyogo area.

In addition, they will handle procedures on behalf of production crews, such as obtaining permission for filming and using roads.

And they will make arrangements for accommodations and meals for staff members, and take care of other duties, including recruiting extras.