Author Archives: soominyang75

Spirited Away: The Meaning of Food

            Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, is about a young girl who is named, Chihiro. She is moving to a new town with her parents, but her father made a wrong turn on the way to the new house. Her father thinks that this way might have been a short cut to the new house. They end up being in a big train station, and her parents want to check what is on the other side of the train station. When they get there, her parents smell food so they go nearer to check what is there. Consequently, they find a lot of food when they get closer. Then they start eating the food lying around on the table. But Chihiro’s parents are turned into fat pigs after eating the food, and she does not know what to do. When she eventually cries miserably, a mysterious man named Haku comes up to her and helps her to survive in the Bathhouse. Chihiro gets to work at the Bathhouse, because that is the only way she can possibly get her parents back and go back to a normal life. After she goes through all the hardships in the bathhouse, she finally gets her parents back at the end. In this movie, many scenes are related to food, and there is a meaning to each scene. Food does not only have one meaning, but it has a variety of meanings, which are showed in the restaurant, amusement park, magic berries, and magical rice ball scenes.

            Chihiro’s father makes a wrong turn and have arrived at the big red station; he wants to check what this place is about. Once they cross the station, her parents smell some delicious food and follow the scent. Then they arrive at the restaurant that has a lot of food, and they decide to eat them. They do not care about the owner of the restaurant and start eating uncontrollably. When Chihiro arrives, she tells her parents not to eat the food and go back home immediately, but her parents do not listen to her and keep eating. Chihiro, therefore, goes about to check out the area. Shortly after the walk, she has a very strange feeling about this place. She feels a little bit scared, so she goes back to where her parents are. When she gets there, she sees two giant pigs. For eating the food on the tables, her parents have been turned into pigs.                


 This scene shows that Chihiro’s parents are too greedy about food. The background of this scene is very detailed. There is a lot of left over food that her parents ate in the back, while they are still eating. In this scene, Chihiro seems very shocked because her hair and shoulder movements give the audience the impression that she is astonished. Her hair blows, and her shoulders shrugged. Her parents cannot recognize her. On that note, they are not human anymore. They are wearing the same clothing and still have the same hairstyles as when they are still human. The lighting is more focused on the food. Also, there is food all over the place in the background. Chihiro’s parents are insatiable about food. Therefore, they are turned into pigs. This scene uses food to convey the message that people should not to be greedy about food. Otherwise, there might be severe consequences that follow the greediness.


            Chihiro tries to go back home by herself, but the way back home is turned into a river. And all of a sudden, she begins to fade into the background and slowly disappear. She cries and hopes that this is only a dream. As she cries, Haku comes to her. He offers Chihiro a magical berry; however, she denies it, but Haku tells her that she has to eat this. Otherwise, she will disappear completely. As a result, she listens to him and finally takes the magical berry and eat it. By eating the berry, the effects stop her from vanishing. This scene focuses on Haku and his facial expression. When Chihiro rejects for eating a magical berry, he seems worried. The background of this scene is dark, so that the focus can be on Haku and his magical berry. This also clearly shows Chihiro as she is still fading. This scene shows that she is very afraid of him and the magical berry, because Haku’s hand is on her shoulder so that she can listen to him calmly. This magical berry scene also shows that Haku wants to help her to find her parents back and return home. At the end of the movie, it shows that Haku was also in the same situation as Chihiro. Therefore, he does not want Chihiro to be living like him. This is the second time where eating food is used in Spirited Away.


            Haku tells Chihiro to meet him at the bridge, because he wants to take her to where her parents are. When she does meet Haku at the bridge, he leads her to where all the pigs are. When she gets there, she starts to yell to her parents in attempt to wake up. Her parents do not respond. Haku explains to her that her parents ate too much, and that they do not remember that they were once human. Haku also tells her to remember which pigs are her parents. Chihiro holds back her tears and tells her parents that she promises she will bring them back to human and take them back to the normal world. She is very upset and sad as Haku gives back her old clothes. She finds her good-bye card in her clothes and her real name, Chihiro, on the card after the incident that happened in the Bathhouse. Haku warns her that she must remember her real name; otherwise, she will never be able to find the way back home. Haku gives Chihiro a magical rice ball, but she does not accept it. He tells her that he has put a spell on it, so it will help her to gather strength. This scene focused on Chihiro eating a magical rice ball that Haku has given her. She takes a bite, and her expression shows that the rice ball is delicious and really acts as a tonic. She later takes a bigger bite, because she wants more of it. Also, her facial expression shows that she feels a little bit relieved because of what Haku has given her. The background of this scene is all plants. So, the lighting of the background is colorful, yet Chihiro still stands out as well as the magical rice ball in the scene. The scene takes place near the farm where her parents are. Additionally, this scene shows that she is still wearing her work uniform for the Bathhouse. The focus is on the magical rice ball. This magical rice ball looks like an ordinary rice ball, but when she tries it, it is good and the rice ball comforts her. Hence, the rice ball can represent a friendship and the strength that comes with it. In short, the action of providing comforts to Chihiro shows Haku’s friendship with Chihiro. Haku always gives her food whenever she feels sad or scared, and what he gives her will always makes her feel better.


Tampopo: Stereotype


This scene is from Tampopo, directed by Juzo Itami and it is about businessmen having lunch together at the White Tower in Japan. The man who is ordering appears to be an assistant for one of the businessmen. When the businessmen look at the menu, they realize it is all in French.  When the waiter takes the order of every businessman, they are clueless as to what to order. One of the businessmen decides to get the Sole Meuniere, Consomme, and beer.  Following the order of the businessman, the rest of the businessmen order exactly the same food. When the waiter takes the assistant’s order, the assistant displays a great knowledge of French cuisine and French wine.  After hearing the assistant, all the businessmen were taken aback and turned red with embarrassment.

The mise en scene is a close up of the assistant because it seems like he is the main character in this film. Also, it closes up to two businessmen because of their reaction of the assistant’s order.  The background appears to be in a fancy and famous restaurant in Tokyo.  The table set is lavish and the waiter is also dressed in formal attire. When the assistant orders food, his tone is very calm and it seems like he can communicate with the waiter about the French entrées. Also, the waiter seems like he feels comfortable when he communicates with the assistant because he knows how to order the right food. He also seems like he is very knowledgeable about French cuisine. The waiter also writes down what the assistant ordered. When the businessmen ordered, the waiter does not write down on the paper.

This scene seems important because it shows that all the businessmen become shocked and ashamed when the assistant almost flaunts his knowledge about the entrées. The reason why this scene seems very important is that all the businessmen put the assistant down because he seems a bit foolish and slow. When he reads the menu, he seems like he is smart and can speak French. Also, the businessmen’s reactions seem very interesting. They probably think that the assistant does not know how to read the menu in French, but the assistant actually reads the menu and questions how the food is prepared. Also, businessmen order the beer but the assistant orders wine.  This scene seems like Juzo Itami tries to break the stereotype between businessmen and assistants. In reality, businessmen are supposed to know how to read the menu in an expensive restaurant, even if there are different languages. It is because they are more educated and higher class than the assistant. This scene demonstrates that one does not have to be older to have knowledge of something.