Tampopo  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Tampopo (literally "dandelion") is a 1985 Japanese comedy film by director Juzo Itami, starring Tsutomu Yamazaki, Nobuko Miyamoto and Ken Watanabe. The publicity for the film calls it "the first Noodle Western," a play on the term Spaghetti Western (Western films made by Italian production studios).

Plot

A pair of truck drivers, the experienced Goro (Tsutomu Yamazaki) and a young sidekick named Gun (Ken Watanabe), stop at a decrepit roadside ramen (noodle) shop. Outside, Goro rescues a boy being beaten up by three schoolmates. The boy, Tabo, turns out to be the son of the widowed owner of the struggling business, Tampopo (Nobuko Miyamoto). When Pisken annoys Tampopo, Goro invites him and his men to step outside. Goro puts up a good fight, but wakes up the next morning in Tampopo's home.

When Tampopo asks their opinion of her noodles, Goro and Gun have to tell her they are not very good. After Goro gives her some advice, she asks him to become her teacher. They decide to turn her establishment into a paragon of the "art of noodle soup making". Goro takes her around and points out the strengths and weaknesses of her competitors. She still cannot get the broth just right, so Goro brings in the "old master" (Yoshi Katō) and his superlative expertise. When they rescue a wealthy elderly man from choking on his food, he lends her Shohei, who has a masterful way with noodles. They also steal the best recipes.

Pisken feels bad for being too drunk to tell his men to stay out of the fight, so he offers Goro another chance one on one. After the rematch ends in a draw, Pisken reveals he is a contractor, and offers to make over the shop's interior. Tampopo's latest effort still comes up short, so Pisken teaches her his own secret recipe. When the five men consume her latest creation down to the last drop, Tampopo knows she has won. (Tabo also triumphs, beating all three of his tormentors.) As customers fill her newly redecorated shop, the men file out one by one.

The main narrative is interspersed with stories involving food on several levels. The primary subplot involves a white-suited yakuza gangster (Koji Yakusho) and his lover (Fukumi Kuroda), who find erotically inventive ways to use food. Other satirical vignettes involve a lowly worker who upstages his superiors by displaying his vast culinary knowledge while ordering at a gourmet French restaurant; a housewife who rises from her deathbed to cook one last meal for her family; and a women's etiquette class (held by Mariko Okada) on how to eat spaghetti properly. Another subplot involves a corner store clerk who has to deal with an older woman (Sen Hara) obsessed with squeezing food. The clerk's scene segues into a restaurant involving an investment scam and the intended victim, who turns out to be a conman himself.

Cast

Actor Role
Tsutomu Yamazaki Goro
Ken Watanabe Gun
Koji Yakusho White-suit man
Rikiya Yasuoka Pisken
Nobuko Miyamoto Tampopo
Sen Hara Cheese-squeezing pensioner
Mariko Okada Etiquette guide in restaurant
Yoshi Katō Noodle professor




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Tampopo" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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