The Silk Road (1988)


The Silk Road (Japanese: 敦煌, Hepburn: Tonkō), also known as Dun-Huang, is a 1988 Japanese film directed by Junya Satō.

The movie was adapted from the 1959 novel Tun-Huang by Yasushi Inoue. The backdrop of the plotline is the Mogao Caves, a Buddhist manuscript trove in Dunhuang, Western China, located along the Silk Road during the Song dynasty in the 11th century.


In 1026, students in western China are shanghaied into the forces of crown prince Li Yuanhao of Xi Xia, who wants to control the length of the Silk Road. One student is Zhao Xingde, who becomes the favourite of his commander, Zhu Wangli. While sacking a fortress, Xingde discovers Tsurpia, princess of the Uighur. He hides her; they fall in love. When he’s sent away to study Xixian, he leaves Tsurpia in Zhu’s care, but returns to find her engaged to Li. Tragedy follows, and he and Zhu enter a pact to take revenge when Li arrives at Dun-Huang, the region’s seat of learning and culture. Against overwhelming odds, they find a surprising way to leave a monument to their life and love.


  • Toshiyuki Nishida as Zhu Wangli, a commander of the Xi Xia empire.
  • Kōichi Satō as Zhao Xingde, a student of Zhu Wangli.
  • Anna Nakagawa as Tsurpia, a princess of an Uyghur kingdom.
  • Tsunehiko Watase as Li Yuanhao, the Xi Xia emperor.
  • Takahiro Tamura as Tsao Yanhui.


The Silk Road was the number one Japanese film on the domestic market in 1988, earning ¥4.5 billion in distribution income that year. It was the third highest-grossing Japanese film up until then, after Antarctica and The Adventures of Milo and Otis, and remains one of the highest-grossing Japanese films. As of 2013, the film has grossed a total of ¥8.2 billion ($84.15 million) in Japan.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Junya Sato.
  • Producer(s):
  • Writer(s): Yasushi Inoue (story) and Junya Sato (screenplay).
  • Music: Masaru Sato.
  • Cinematography: Akira Shiizuka.
  • Editor(s): Akira Suzuki.
  • Production:
  • Distributor(s): Toho.
  • Release Date: 25 June 1988.
  • Running Time: 99/143 minutes.
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Country: Japan.
  • Language: Japanese.

Video Link

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