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.


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



Director Jûzô Itami and Fukumi Kuroda


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.



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

Tampopo redux

I’ve been wanting to see the 87-minute documentary on “The Making of Tampopo” ever since I first read of its existence perhaps fifteen years ago. And now – or soon, anyway – I can. A German special edition Blu-ray of “Tampopo” by the fantastic director Jûzô Itami has been released that includes it. I checked to be sure and it does have English subtitles on the disc, not just German. I found out about it while idly reviewing search results for “Tampopo” shortly after I watched it yet again last night.

Here’s the trailer for the film, which was first released 30 years ago in Japan:

I just ordered the new Blu-ray release from a fellow in Germany, but I’ll have to wait a while before viewing it. While my current internationally modified (read: electronics hacked) LG Blu-ray player can play all DVD regions and convert PAL/SECAM to NTSC, it can only play Blu-ray discs for Zone A; this disc is Zone B. I just found a modified Samsung all-region DVD, all-zone Blu-ray player with PAL/SECAM converter; support for DLNA/NAS/Internet play and search; data discs on CD/DVD/BD-R; support for AVI, WMV, MP4, MKV, MP3, and other files; and DivX, Xvid, WM9, and other formats. All for US$20 less than my modified LG player cost four years ago, but I will resist the temptation to use credit and again practice delayed gratification until I have the cash to get it – possibly in the next two to six weeks.

“Tampopo”, the only film I’ve watched more times than “2001: A Space Odyssey” – that equates to ‘a heckuva lot’ – for the first time in full high definition and with dts-HD audio, plus its “making of” documentary…it’s a dream come true.