Films and TV on Japanese Food

We don’t have to travel to Japan to enjoy a delicious Japanese meal anymore. However, there’s always a certain curiosity about Japanese cuisine, its etiquette and importance within Japanese culture and society.. If you’re not planning on a trip to Japan anytime soon, a good way to start observing and understanding it is through watching some movies and TV series. Travelling without moving!

Tampopo (1985)

Director: Jûzô Itami
Writer: Jûzô Itami (screenplay)

If you haven’t watched it yet, this is a must for anyone interested in Japanese food and culture. Since its release in 1985, this wild and uniquely Japanese culinary comedy has become something of a cult movie. You’ll follow the adventures of a widow and a rogue in search of the ultimate ramen recipe. Tampopo is hilarious and joyfully anarchic: it shows the passion and devotion of Japanese people for food but also the uneasy incorporation of Western influences to it.

Jiro, Dreams of Sushi

Director: David Gelb
Starring: Jiro Ono

When you bite into a delicious piece of sushi you may not realise how many years of hard work and dedication went into that tiny mouthful. This 2011 documentary following Jiro Ono, an 85 year old sushi master and owner of the 10 seater and 3-Michelin-starred Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo will set the records straight. This film is a beautiful ode to an artisan and his pursuit of perfection. It also puts a light on his relationship with his two sons working the same craft.

Midnight Diner – Tokyo Stories

Based on the eponymous best-selling manga by Yaro Abe, this two-series show follows the owner and loyal customers of a late-night diner in Tokyo. Each episode is based on people bonding over a specific dish: touching stories of family, love and friendships are told against the background of the urban sprawl. It culminates into a joyful ending where the characters wave goodbye to the audience and share their tips to recreate the comfort food dish at the heart of the story. It’s a real treat of a binge-watching series that finds whimsy in the mundane.. It is one of my favourites and you can find it on Netflix!