[J Movie] Tampopo


Tampopo is a movie which has food as its central theme. This movie will definitely make you hungry when you watched it. The main story is about Tampopo, an owner of a struggling ramen shop. She met four men who helped her in reviving her ramen shop. Tampopo’s hard work and determination is displayed throughout the film as she was able to cope with several struggles and challenges. From time to time, there would be some scenes that would be shown that are unrelated with the main story. Nevertheless, these scenes are fit and are appropriate in the movie since they are all related with food, which goes back to the central theme of the movie.


I realized that cooking as well as eating are forms of art. One cannot simply cook the food that he wants to eat, but he must learn to cook it properly. Tampopo initially did not know how to cook ramen, but through her hard work and perseverance, she was able to succeed and master the skills of cooking. She made efforts to be able to succeed. She visited different ramen shops, exercised to improve her strength and stamina, and she was willing to pay a hefty amount of money to learn the right way of cooking ramen from the man. One also has to eat ramen in a specific way as demonstrated by the old man. I realized that the act of eating shouldn’t be done casually or hastily but we must appreciate the food that we are eating.

tampopo ramen

There were several scenes that showed the different ways on how we perceive food. At first when we see these things, it does not seem to have any connection with the main story since the characters and plot are different. However, I thought that the director and writer would not waste screen time by putting those scenes right? It makes me think about why they would add it in the movie. For instance, the egg yolk passing scene and the oyster scene, it shows how eating food is a sensual act. The scene where a woman was teaching the ladies on how to eat pasta properly but in the end gave up as they saw the man at the other table eating ungracefully. It shows how food is meant to be enjoyed. One should not always think about eating food gracefully but sometimes we should eat it heartily to fully enjoy the food. There was also a scene where an old lady enters the supermarket just to hold and touch the soft food. She seemed to have a fetish for these things and it shows how food is not just for our taste buds to enjoy but some people find pleasure by touching it. Food does not only involve the mouth but other senses as well such as our hands, nose, ears and eyes. There was also a scene in a Chinese restaurant where a man pretends to be professor and tries to deceive the other man. Even when he was already caught, he just had to have that one last bite of peking duck before he goes to jail. I find one scene particularly interesting when there was a group of men who dined in a French restaurant. They were unfamiliar with the dishes and everyone just copied each other’s orders. However, there was this younger man who looks like a lowly worker compared to the other elder men and he was very knowledgeable about the French names and dishes. I think it shows that being superior or rich doesn’t have anything to do with one being knowledgeable about food. We should not look down on people who are not rich. It doesn’t mean that if a person is inferior, he may know lesser.



I realized that these scenes were also in a way made to complement the main story. Another instance was when the husband came home from work to find his sickly wife who was about to die. Despite the wife lying down and having no strength at all, the husband asked her to cook for the family. The wife obeys obediently and doesn’t complain. It shows her being submissive to the husband. She cooked and finished her obligation before she died. In the past, people see women as weak and restricted to do household work. I think that this scene was meant to show the difference of the wife and Tampopo. Tampopo broke away from the traditional mold of a housewife. She was a single mother who succeeded in her ramen business. We can perceive her as a strong, independent and persistent woman. Tampopo represents the women of contemporary Japanese society since many women also work nowadays and they are not limited to do household work only. The film wants to show the contrast of the women’s role in the traditional and contemporary times.

One of the scenes during the end was when the man was shot several times by an anonymous person and when he was about to die, he was still talking about food. It signifies the death of the old store and the beginning of the new and improved ramen store of Tampopo. The last scene showing the credits wherein the mother was breastfeeding the baby signifies growth. The baby can be compared to the ramen business which is just starting to grow. The story ended happily as Tampopo was able to have many customers visiting her shop. It is just the start and if she continues to manage it well, it implies that her business will also continue to grow, expand and flourish.

I really enjoyed this movie because it was very new for me. I have never seen a film that revolves around food; and it wasn’t simply about eating, but food can actually be related and associated to many things. I was also not used to films that have different scenes that are not directly connected with the story and I found it confusing at first. It has a unique style and I find it very interesting. It makes the audience wonder and think about how to associate those scenes with the main story. Those who are fond of eating would also enjoy this movie. Aside from the humorous elements of the movie, food was portrayed in so many different and odd ways. I’m sure people will see food in a different light after watching this film.



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