Author Archives: yingyinghong

Shao-Hsing rice wine in Gourmet Club

“Gourmet Club”, which was published in 1919, was written by Tanizaki Jun’ichiro. This gourmet club was founded by five people who are crazy on fine cuisine. In addition, Tanizaki uses exoticism genre in this work, and lots of Chinese cultural are existing in his work. Shao-Hsing rice wine is one of the most remarkable Chinese cultural symbols, and it’s also providing an aesthetic effect in Gourmet Club.   

   First of all, Shao-Hsing rice wine is one of the most famous varieties of huangjiu, which is a traditional Chinese wine. Also huangjiu is three of the world oldest beverage as well as beer and grape wine. Shao-Hsing rice wine originally from Shao-Hsing city, in Zhejiang province of eastern China. This wine is widely used in both a beverage and a cooking wine in Chinese cuisine. People like to drink it at the beginning of a meal instead of eating rice. In addition, it will be drunk out of rice bowls and usually accompany with peanuts or other snacks. Besides that, Shao-Hsing rice wine contains six different tastes—sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, umami, and astringent. With those six flavors harmonious interaction and their mutual effect, it formed the unique of this type of wine which give people an unforgettable impression. Meanwhile, in the gourmet club, Count G. knows this special drink so that he can recognize it.

   Then, Shao-Hsing rice wine was mentioned when Count smells it from two Chinese, the narrator describes: “but at the instant they passed, a whiff of shao-hsing rice wine reached his nostrils. He turned and glanced at the others’ faces” (P107). Because of this, Count G could find the hidden Chinese banquet, and have a series of the stories about there. Furthermore, shao-hsing rice wine came up again in the following text. When Count gave a brief glance at this Chinese banquet, he saw that: “when it was at last placed in the middle of the table, one of the diners stood up and raised a cup of shao-hsing wine, whereupon those sitting with him also rose and, all together, drained their cups” (P120). It first confirmed that Count’s judgment of this type of wine was corrected. Secondly it represents how important of this beverage in Chinese culture.

Overall, with this narrow down exoticism of Shao-Hsing rice wine in Tanizaki’s text, it lend to the aesthetic of the story. The mention of this beverage is not only the symbol of Chinese cultural, but also foreshadowing the development of the story. Shao-Hsing rice wine is also an important setting in this work, which can give readers’ the sense of smell, so that Tanizaki refers twice in the text. Without this specific item, the development of the story is not that reasonable and credible.

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Momotaro’s Variants

Momotaro’s Variants

   Momotaro is one of the most famous heroes in Japanese fairy tale. His story has represented in various intermediates since 1753. It has the oldest story version, a recomposed version, foreign countries version, movies, and even games. Those variants have both similarities and differences, which formed Momotaro with characteristics of brave, kindness, and unyielding to the world.

   In the very old version, which was written in 1753, describes that one day an old woman found a huge peach. Then she ate one bite and became a beautiful young lady. Her husband heard that also ate the peach and turned young, too. Momotaro is the baby after they made love that night. However, Japanese government recomposed the story from the original version in order to bring it into school curricula, so the one that exists on our textbook is the most popular version.

    In the recompose version, Momotaro was inside of the huge peach and found by the poor old woman on the river. When the old couple tried to cut the peach, Momotaro started to speak to them and told them that he was sent by the God. So the old couple felt glad about it and took very good care about Momotaro. After he turned to fifteen years old, he started his conquer to the Ogres’ land. On the way to Ogres’ land, he met a dog, a monkey and a pheasant. Momotaro used the millet dumplings, which made by the old woman, to make three animals follow him and helped him to defeat the ogres. With this version which has applied in Japanese education, there are various foreign version of Momotaro coming out.

   Similarly, in the Chinese version of the story, Momotaro was found by the old woman. However, he can’t speak when they cut the huge peach but crying. The old couple felt that he was a gift from God and carefully took care of the baby. This scene seems more reasonable than the Japanese style because infant can’t speak at first. Moreover, Momotaro grew very fast by eating the millet dumplings which made by the old woman. Several days late, he already became a strong juvenile. By comparing to the Japanese version, the Chinese version use hyperbole to describe Momotaro’s growth instead of regular growth. In this way, it brings more magic to the millet dumplings and foreshadowing the development part when Momotaro meets the animals. Then, Momotaro heard about the ogres’ land and decided to destroy those enemies. As a result, he started his journey to the ogres’ land. Same as the previous version, Momotaro met three animals; nevertheless, Momotaro used his kindness replaced with brave while trading these three animals. When he met each animal, his heart melted with pity, and offered his millet dumplings to them. His compassion moved those three animals so that they want to be his attendants in order to reward Momotaro’s kindness. This recompose indicated the Chinese traditional belief—Man’s nature is good. It shows that not only Momotaro has a mercy heart, but also those animals have a grateful heart. On the other hand, the Japanese version described that each animal threats Momotaro for the millet dumpling; in addition, Momotaro intimidated back to them. In this scene, both sides are aggressive to each other. Also, Momotaro showed his courage and brave under those situations, which suggests one of the nation’s spirits in Japan. Foreign version stories keep the main part from the original country but add more nations’ civilization into the story to make it more adapt to the public’s taste. It just likes the fast food brand in foreign countries, such as McDonald and KFC, different country has the same menu but with different taste.

   Besides the foreign version, Momotaro’s story also appears in the movie industry. In 1945, Mitsuyo Seo produced the movie Momotaro’s Divine Sea Warriors (Momotaro’s Sea Eagles) in order to propagandize the World War II. In this 37 minutes film, it narrates the war between Momotaro and the Ogres. The same segment of the fairy tale is that Momotaro has dog, monkey, and pheasant as his attendants. The difference is the number of those animals is not only one but in group. The movie formed an army for Momotaro which is stand for Japanese Army during the WWII. The ogre in here represented for America in the war period, and this movie was produced in order to encourage Japanese people that do not afraid of enemy. Momotaro’s warriors use fighters instead of the boat in the recompose version, which seems more serious than a fairy tale. In this movie, Momotaro has a strict facial express on his face, which made him looks like a mature and thoughtful person. The animal army was well trained and has good group works. However, they still play with each other even they were on the way to the enemy’s land. It is understandable because they are animals. They look cute and innocent than humans. And they are playfulness just like children, which made the war environment not depressing any more. These happy animals exist made a contrast with Momotaro. The animals set him off with aspiring and steady traits, which the stories didn’t reveal by Momotaro’s facial expression. Also, even animals have brave and energetic attitude when they face to the enemy, to say nothing of human beings. The story use animals rather than humans make it more impressionable and acceptable to the audience.

   Generally speaking, Momotaro is the main role in the story; however, different versions give different positions about him. In the 1753 year’s story, Momotaro was born by an old couple who ate the huge peach and turned to young. On the contrary, in the following recomposed version, god sent Momotaro to a lonely couple instead of giving birth by them. Furthermore, Momotaro is the leader of those animals in the story; similarly, he is the captain of his animal army in the movie Momotaro’s Sea Eagles.

   The millet dumplings also play an important role in this fairy tale. In the traditional version, it is the link that connects Momotaro to three animals. Because he has those dumplings, animals all want that so that they started threaten Momotaro. And the story could keep going on. In Chinese version, the millet dumplings not only connect those characters, but also stand for energy and power. Momotaro can get grown up fast by eating millet dumplings, and when he faced to his enemy, he can get confidence and power from the millet dumplings. These give the millet dumpling a mystical veil which made readers feel it’s magic. Furthermore, in the movie Momotaro’s Divine Sea Warriors, the millet dumplings were given to those warriors who went to the ogre’s land. This symbolized their expectation of conquering the ogres. Moreover, this millet dumpling also has been used in other Japanese stories. For example, it has been existed in the Japanese anime Doraemon. Similar to the millet dumplings, Doraemon has a dumpling from his pocket which can docile the monsters listen to Nobita’s order. Here has the intertextuality with Momotaro’s millet dumpling.

   In addition, there are movies about Momotaro keep coming out after that. For instance, in 1987, Taiwan produced the Child of Peach, and in the next year it produced the Child of Peach 2. Meanwhile, there are other intermediates recomposed Momotaro’s story, such as the game Momotaro Densentsu.

   In conclusion, Momotaro’s story has so many different variants, but his characteristic has formed in the same features. He is smart, strong, fearlessness, and kindness. Because of those traits which be sought after by human, his name can be handed down to generations and different nations.

Character analysis in Gourmet Club

“Gourmet Club”, which was published in 1919, was written by Tanizaki Jun’ichiro. Gourmet Club was founded by five people who are crazy on fine cuisine. This story is based on the enthusiastic of finding delicious food; meanwhile, it uses the protagonist the Count G.’s activities as an axis, describes the art of food which is not only evaluated by eating, tasting, but also by consuming it. In this work, Tanizaki shapes the protagonist with purpose; these paves make this story reasonably develop.

Tanizaki takes several pages to set up the background of this Gourmet Club. Eating delicious food is equals to artistic appreciation, it is important for the Gourmet Club members to find something to satisfied their stomach more than anything else; in addition, all the members are sick of regular cuisine, and they want to find something new and special instead of Japanese cuisine. The Count G. is introduced at this time.
  “Count G. was the most moneyed and idlest member of the club; he was also the youngest, possessed of a sharp wit, a wild imagination, and the sturdiest stomach of all” (P103).

By that description, readers can have a roughly imagination about the traits of character. Soon, Tanizaki formed more specific to readers.

Because Count G. was the most moneyed, everyone in heart put him to the position of manager in the club. Because he is rich, Count can afford precious food and can let members have meeting in his building. Moreover, Count’s idlest also proved in the following scene. He has nothing to do except finding delicious food, which is not usual occurs on ordinary people. One day, he finished eating abalone soup and walked on the street, he found a secret Chinese place though his sharp sense of smell. Also, because he is the youngest in the club, he has the most curiosity and energy. So that he wants to find out what that place is. With stepping more close to the place, he hears the music and rapidly matches it with food. “When the music quickened, …, it made the Count think somehow of the bright red color and sharp, strong flavor of dragonfish guts. And when suddenly the melody became full, rounded,…, he thought of a rich broth of braised sea cucumbers” (P109). In this scene, Tanizaki uses metaphor and little hyperbole to demonstrate the wild imagination of Count G. Furthermore, imagination brings people the ability of creation. Near the end of this work, when Count G is holding special banquet for his club, he comes up with various creations about how to design the serve for eating by the inspiration in the Chinese place. All those shows up in this excerpt formed a round character of Count G.

Overall, the pave of Count G.’s trait is successfully proved by the whole story. Besides, at the end of this story, Tanizaki pointed out what really has changed in the Gourmet Club aim as the distillation of the whole story which is consuming fine cuisine instead of just tasting or eating.

Spirited Away: The Importance of Food Setting

The movie Spirited Away is a Japanese animated film which written by Hayao Miyazaki in 2001. It tells a story of a ten years old girl Chihiro and her parents strayed into the spirit world. After Chihiro’s parents ate too much and transformed into pigs, Chihiro starts to find the way to save her parents and the way home with Haku, Kamaji, Lin and others’ help. This movie has received lots of positive feedback either in plots or music or others since it was published. However, the setting in this movie is also significant. More remarkable, food plays a very important role in this movie, which is not only the blasting fuse but also throughout this whole movie.

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 In the beginning of the movie, Chihiro’s father drives into a wrong way which led them into the spirit world. He first smells the food smell, and then he and Chihiro’s mother start eating while Chihiro rejects to eat but stand outside of the restaurant. From the setting of each character, things happened very reasonable. Chihiro’s father is a pretty fat guy, and her mother is thin; as a result, father must eat a lot in daily life so that he can recognize food smell very fast. On the contrary, the protagonist Chihiro is a very thin girl. It is understandable that she might not love eating plus she knew it’s rude to eat without owner’s permission. In another word, because of the food smell, Chihiro’s family starts eating and stays longer in the spirit world. That caused her parents turn into pigs.

As Chihiro meets Haku and on her way back to her parents, she finds that both of them became pigs and there is a river blocked her way. She feels worried and scared. Soon Haku finds her and gives her a berry to eat so that she won’t disappear in this world. In this scene, the setting of this small berry has an effect of earning Chihiro’s trust. Therefore, Chihiro can followed Haku’s guide and found Kamaji.

 In Kamaji’s room, food also leads Lin into the story. The setting here is Lin comes to Kamaji’s room and serves food for him and sootballs. Because Lin came here, she met Chihiro and later on after Chihiro got the job in Yubaba’s place; Lin is the person who takes care of Sen (Chihiro’s new name) became more logical. After that, Lin and Sen got their first guest—-Stink spirit. Also, in this scene, food delivered the sense of stink smell when Lin holds their rice and sees the dirty spirit. Even rice is wilted by the bad smell; Sen must suffer a lot while serving this guest.

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Straight after, when they find out this guest is not a stink spirit, every one try their best to help pull the waste out from the spirit. The real identity is river spirit, and he gives a ball to Sen as a reward. This setting of the ball is very significant because it survived two important characters—Haku and No-face in the later on plot.         

 At the same night, No-face uses gold to attract the fog and starts his dissatisfy in food and serves. For people who serve No-face with precious food, they have desires of money, greedy. They want to use those foods to exchange with No-face’s gold. On the other hand, No-face is also cannot get enough from food. Even though he eats as much as he can, and his body become huge, it still cannot fill his lonely heart until Sen shows up and helps him out. No-face decides to go with Sen to Yubaba’s twin sister Zeniba’s house.

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At the same time, Yubaba realized her most importance property has been replaced. With Haku’s reminds, Yubaba pays attention on the non-stop-eating baby, and then recognizes he is a fake one. In this situation, food snakes also setting here for making notice, which make a huge noise while everyone is quiet. It helps the plot development and goes on.

 Meanwhile, Sen’s group has just arrived to Zeniba’s place, they had a quiet peaceful meal together. This is also the only peaceful meal in the whole movie, which kind indicates a peaceful ending.

 Overall, every setting of food existing in the movie Spirited Away is with purpose and functions. Miyazaki puts them at reasonable time and important points, which is not only as a bedding of the story but also as hints in some plot.

Tampopo : higher social class cannot justify as a knowledgeable person.

 

tampopo

In this screen shot, it shows the situation that those people are at a high-end restaurant, ordering food right now.

This is a medium shot, and we can see the well-organized tableware, flowers and candles. People shows up are all in suits with very official appearance. All those settings tell the audience that this is a high class western food restaurant.

The young man is looking at the menu and ordering a corton chalemagne wine, which catches the other two elder people’s attention. The expressions on their face are full of surprise and doubt. They both have eyes match to the young guy and feel shocked about what he ordered.

Based on the previous screens, when they first came in to this room, the middle person hit the young guy because he dropped their bags. Then he hit him again because he sat earlier than the other elder people. Those actions suggested the relationship between those people, which seems like the middle person is the young guy’s boss, and other people have higher social level than the middle person.

Then, those older generation traditional Japanese people are lack of the knowledge about western food, which directly show by their unconfident ordering. They don’t understand the language on the menu, and they have no idea about what the food is; as a result, after one people ordered, they others are ordering the exactly same food in order to be on the safe side. In addition, when the young man started to order, his boss tried to notice him do not be the different one; however, after they hear the young man can order western food with no difficulty and find perfect matching items, there were some close-up shots at their face with little spasm.

And at this drink order shot, the young guy asked for a 1981 year of Corton Charlemagne, which is a very specific type, origin and year about the wine that he wants to order. On the contrary; all other 5 people only follow one order of drink, which is beer. They feel so shame and face losing when they hear the young guy’s order. That’s why they moved their heads to the young guy and have all their faces turn to red later on.

I think this screen shot is important because first it provide a situation that western food culture in Japan and the reactions of traditional Japanese people. Then, it shows that people who has lower social class is not inferior to people in higher social class but lower connotation, such as this situation with western culture. Furthermore, it is an ironic scene which tells people that age cannot stand for rich experience; younger people might also have wild knowledge than older people. The truth is that one might have learned the knowledge in a special field earlier than the other, so social class cannot evaluate a person’s level. It is also an important point that the director wants to show.