Ramen is Art


Tampopo, without a doubt, was a very interesting film to me because it takes on a different take of something that was so seemingly simple and common to me, ramen, to a work of art – to a masterpiece.

This specific screenshot is very significant to the rest of the movie because in this part, Tampopo, after continuous practice and training, has finally prepared the “perfect” ramen in just 3 minutes. This scene is a medium and an establishing shot because it shows the setting which is the kitchen and shows the body language of Goro and Tampopo. Goro is looking at the stopwatch and Tampopo is raising both of her hands to signal that she has placed the bowl of ramen down and that she is done. I believe that this establishes one of Juzo Itami’s biggest theme in this film and that is of the following: food is hard work, food is art. Starting from the beginning of the film where a young man and an older man eats ramen together and the older man begins to teach proper and right ways of enjoying and eating ramen to the young man till this very scene, which is closer to the end, where Tampopo finally masters making ramen, it is evident that Itami is trying to portray the idea that food is indeed hard work in Japan. Itami is saying that a concept can be mastered, under practice and determination.

Ramen, to many – especially in the United States, may just see ramen as another comfort food, something that they can easily order and pick up at their nearest ramen shop on a cold Winter day. But this movie says so much more about it and this scene ties it all up. Ramen is not just comfort food for $8.99, it is art and it is something that takes many practices to master. Prior to this scene, Tampopo’s ramen shop was not a hit and barely anyone came. Thus, Tampopo had to learn all the proper ways to make the best tasting ramen and it took blood, sweat, and discipline to get her where she is in this scene. There are certain techniques to boil the noodles, to cut the meat, and etc.  Tampopo actually even had a nightmare one night about her ramen shop burning down because she left the water for the noodles on too long and made her noodles very soft, too soft. In addition, how ramen is also plated is also another technique she had to learn – the meat had to be in a certain spot. 

I think this scene is trying to say that ramen should be appreciated more because it takes very hard work to make it all happen. This scene also shows food’s role in Japanese culture and how it takes a lot of time – just like sushi; their food is just not a bunch of things together, it actually has technique.

Itami portrays ramen in a way that it should be praised. This movie has definitely made me appreciate Japanese food and culture more and that it is definitely art. Itami represents that culture is closely related to food and that food can say a lot about a culture and its traditions and Itamin’s Tampopo is a great film to inspire that. 


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