An answer to a twenty-year-old question

I just watched the 90-minute “Making of Tampopo” documentary and thoroughly enjoyed seeing how thoroughly enjoyable the film was for its participants. Unsurprisingly, most of “Tampopo” was filmed on location, with one of the few sets being the interior of Tampopo’s restaurant itself. There were no subtitles for the documentary, but I understood what was going on fairly well throughout, even as Jûzô Itami explained how they edited together the final scenes outside and inside the renovated restaurant, showing four different versions.

I finally found out the answer to a twenty-year-old question I had, too, one of the reasons I eagerly anticipated seeing this documentary. Ever since I first saw “Tampopo” about ten years after its 1985 release, I’ve wondered if the spine-tingling fading in and out of the sunlight streaming through the window in the final ramen reckoning scene was tightly planned or purely serendipitous. I leaned toward the former, but only slightly. I always thought there was a chance he got extraordinarily lucky. You can find out yourself below.

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One of about a dozen takes to get the naruto slice to land on Rikiya Yasuoka’s face just so

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Director Jûzô Itami and Fukumi Kuroda

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Kōji Yakusho and Fukumi Kuroda

The documentary – quite kindly, I thought – showed the filming of three additional food scenes in the on-location hotel room that ended up on the cutting room floor. They involved cream, strawberry jam, and what appeared to be a profiterole. Oh, and the obviously delicious Fukumi Kuroda, of course.

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So the answer is: Anyone who can keep me guessing for twenty years is a damned fine director.

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