Japanese Foundation Event: Culinary Culture & Gastronomy in Japanese Cinema

The Japan Foundation in London recently ran an event dedicated to Japanese food as shown in films and it seems to have been super popular because there is another helping of food-based films for audiences to salivate over and it’s all free to attend (you just need to book a place). Prepare to gorge yourselves on some really delicious looking food served up amidst some great stories by a myriad of cooks!

Tampopo Film Image

Wednesday, August 23rd at the Courthouse Cinema, London


Tale of Samurai Cooking – A True Love Story  A Tale of Samurai Cooking Film Poster

武士の献立 「Bushi no Kondate

Running Time: 121 mins.

Director: Yuzo Asahara

Writer: Michio Kashiwada, Yukiko Yamamuro, Yuzo Asahara,

Starring: Kengo Kora, Aya Ueto, Kimiko Yo, Toshiyuki Nishida

Website    IMDB

This is a historical film set during the Edo period and starring popular talent Aya Ueto. She stars alongside Kengo Kora (The Drudgery TrainA Story of Yonosuke).

Synopsis: Great cook Haru marries into a family of legendary “Kitchen Samurai”, who have served the lords of Kaga for many generations with their wonderful cuisine. While her new husband and successor to the family is a master of the sword, his kitchen-knife skills leave a lot to be desired. Haru vows to make her husband a superb samurai chef and starts to teach him the art of cuisine. A period drama based on a true story.

Thursday, August 24th at the Courthouse Cinema, London


The Chef of the South Polar   The Chef of the South Polar Film Poster

南極料理人Omoshiro Nankyoku Ryurinin

Running Time: 126 mins.

Director:  Shuichi Okita

Writer: Shuichi Okita (Screenplay), Jun Nishimura (Original Novel)

Starring: Kengo Kora, Masato Sakai, Kosuke Toyohara, Kanji Furutachi, Katsuhisa Namase, Daisuke Kuroda, Takashi Ukaji, Kitaro, Masahiro Kohama,


This is the second feature-length film from Shuichi Okita. Two of his other films, The Woodsman and the Rain, and A Story of Yonosuke are available to purchase in the UK thanks to Third Window Films.

Synopsis: At a research facility located in sub-zero Antarctica, it’s Chef Nishimura’s job to dish up delicious meals for his colleagues using limited ingredients available – soon enough the much-anticipated meals become the only thing keeping them from going crazy! Based on the autobiographical essays by Jun Nishimura, Shuichi Okita serves up a visual feast for the eyes, combining elements of comedy and pathos.


Saturday, August 26th at the Rich Mix, London


An    Sweet Bean


Running Time: 113 mins.

Director: Naomi Kawase,

Writer: Naomi Kawase (Screenplay), Tetsuya Akikawa (Original Novel),

Starring:  Masatoshi Nagase, Kirin Kiki, Kyara Uchida, Etsuko Ichihara, Miki Mizuno, Taiga, Wakato Kanematsu, Miyoko Asada.

Website       IMDB

Naomi Kawase’s films are gaining traction in the West with cinema and home releases. Sweet Bean was the first major film of hers to get this treatment and Radiance has been picked up for distribution in the West following a successful run at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Synopsis: After getting released from prison Sentarou (Masatoshi Nagase) worked hard to become the manager of a dorayaki bakery store. An older woman, Tokue (Kirin Kiki), is hired to work at the store, making the sweet red bean paste that fills the dorayaki. Her sweet red beans become popular and the store flourishes, but a rumour spreads that Tokue once had leprosy.


Tampopo   Tampopo Film Poster

タンポポ Tampopo

Release Date: November 23rd, 1985

Running Time: 115 mins.

Director: Juzo Itami

Writer: Juzo Itami (Screenplay),

Starring: Tsutomu Yamazaki, Nobuko Miyamoto, Koji Yakusho, Ken Watanabe, Rikiya Yasuoka, Hideji Otaki, Fukumi Kuroda, Mariko Okada,


Synopsis: Two truckers, Goro (Tsutomu Yamazaki) and Gun (Ken Watanabe) stop by a rundown ramen noodle store owned by a widowed woman named Tampopo (Nobuko Miyamoto). Her business is struggling and she has to look after her son. The two are harrassed by ne’er do wells in the local community who Goro takes on in a series of fights. Tampopo enlists Goro’s help for more important matters as she asks him to help her research the perfect noodle so she can rejuvenate the noodle bar. What ensues is a series comic vignettes as they try and succeed in their quest.

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