Food can have various meanings in people’s life. First of all, food is a source of energy; having food properly can help people to keep their bodies in a good condition. Furthermore, food is meaningful not only in physical way, but also in emotional way. By sharing same food together, people feel close to each other, and unite each other. In the literature or the film, food also plays an important role as in our real life.
Momotaro, is a famous traditional fairy tale of Japan. Momo, means peach in Japanese, and Taro is a part of common Japanese male name. An old woman finds pretty peach on the river and brings it to home. An old man, her husband, is also very pleased with the peach saying that it really looks good. The peach turns to a young boy, and the old man and the old woman names him Peach-boy (Momotaro). One day, Peach-boy decides to start a journey to go to the island inhabited by Orges in order to defeat the Orges. Before Peach-boy’s departure, the old man prepares millet dumplings for him. I think that can be interpreted in two meanings; the old man wants to offer him a powerful sources so that he can fight well, and also preparing food for someone is a good way to show affection. At the beginning of Peach-boy’s journey, he meets a dog and a monkey, and Peach-boy willingly shares his millet dumplings to them, and they becomes companions. Sharing millet dumplings is only a part of their journey, but it has the most important meaning since it is a starting point to open their minds to each other. Also, millet dumplings work as a source of energy and leads Peach-boy, the dog, and the monkey to win a victory.
The film, Momotaro’s Sea Eagle, is a Japanese propaganda film produced in 1942 by the director named Mitsuyo Seo. The folk tale Momotaro was dramatized into an animated film, and that is the reason that the title of the film was named after Momotaro. The characters of the folk tale such as Momotaro, a spotted dog, a monkey, and the orge (demon) appear in the film, but the story of the film is more war-like since it was produced during the World War II to stimulate Japan’s Pearl Harbor Attack. In the film, the animals such as a dog, a monkey, and a rabbit prepare war to defeat demons. Before heading to demon’s island, the monkey prepare millet dumplings for his companions, similar to the old man of Momotaro. Millet dumplings have an important meaning in the film too. Before the war, the warriors need enough energy to fight, and millet dumplings give powers to the warriors in order to win the war. Also, food does not only strengthen physical power; the warriors share same food together, and it strengthen their connections and unifies them.
Monkey brings millet dumplings for his companions
The film, Minamata: The Victims and Their World, is a documentary film directed by Noriaki Tsuchimoto in 1971. Japanese company named Chisso illegally discharged contaminated water into the river, and as the result, residents living near the river suffered from severe diseases called Minamata-diseases which is named after the name of the region, Minamata. At the beginning of the film, it says that most of the residents were engaged in fishing, and it would mean that their main dishes for everyday were seafood. Living by fishing and having similar food would make the community share a bond. However, after Chisso discharged the polluted water containing mercury, it affected all the communities; people started to become ill and even stray cats that ate contaminated fishes died in unaccountable posture. In this situation, food put the community into suffering; sharing food eventually turned into a disaster making innocent people suffer from diseases. Also, because of severe mercury poisoning of water, the residents could not eat the things that they had enjoyed through their lives. However, Chisso cooperation and even the government ignored them and treated them like ‘people who are fated to die’. So the residents who had been suffering from mercury poisoning or who already lost their beloved family members decided to fight over Chisso cooperation and the Japanese government, so they went to a trip to Osaka in order to protest. This is quite similar to the story of the folk tale Momotaro and the film Momotaro’s Sea Eagle; the residents are like warriors and the Chisso cooperation and the government are like the opposite side that the warriors are fight against.
The folk tale Momotaro, the propaganda film Momotaro’s Sea Eagle, and the documentary film Minamata: The Victims and Their World, have not only the similar spiritual lessons, but also have similar feature: food. Sometimes, food brings people all together and encourages them feel unified, and sometimes, food offers people physical energy, and sometimes, food bonds the group together by a common fate.