Japanese food film, Ken’s makeover, how to handle a political purge, meals with deals.
Sit down and lose yourself in two Japanese documentaries.
With the slow food movement comes the slow food film. This might be its acme. Tora-san of Goto (五島のトラさん / Goto no Tora-san) is a 114-min documentary directed by Masaru Oura and filmed over a remarkable 22 years. It follows the Inuzuka clan who live in the typically tidy and still bucolic Goto Islands of Nagasaki. Tora-san runs the udon-making business with his wife and their seven sproglets, ages two to 17. And they do run it together: Tora awakes at 2am, then the kids, in shifts, from 4am onwards, diligently working the dough that people eat. Like the protected French boulanger, maître d’ and other roles that have no words in English, Tora-san just gets on with it. Non-japanese viewers would probably find the film quaint in its appeal, and it is, until the hypnotic rhythm of transports you deeper, into the different layers of life. Tsukiji Wonderland (築地ワンダーラン/ Tsukiji Wandarando) is the ostensibly more glamorous counterpart of Tora-san. The world’s largest fish market is something of a cause célèbre. It’s 80 years old, but has arguably come into prominence with food being the new mobile porn. The market’s 600 wholesalers will be moving to a new USD3.5 billion facility and the current site redeveloped as a “food wonderland” theme park. Tsukiji Wonderland was filmed as word of the market’s relocation was gathering a head of steam. Featuring interviews with star chefs Jiro Ono and René Redzepi.
Clockwise from top A scene from Tora-san of Goto (2016); scenes from Tsukiji Wonderland (2016).