A Heartwarming Tale of Samurai Cooking
My Delicate, My Vixen,
Haru (Aya Ueto) turned down the proposal a second time feeling she is not worthy because of her failed marriage: “They say I am impertinent neither meek nor gentle.” Dennai (Toshiyuki Nishida), “If you are neither meek nor gentle my son needs a wife with spirit and life.” He goes down on his knees and begs her to marry him.
The dialogue above is from A TALE OF SAMURAI COOKING: A TRUE LOVE STORY. The Japanese title is Warrior’s Menu (Bushi no Kondate). This Japanese film is part of the Eigai Sai Film festival running in Shang Cineplex, Shangri-La Plaza from July 9-19, 2015. The festival features some of the biggest hits of Japanese cinema such as IT’S A BEAUTIFUL LIFE IRODORI, WOOD JOB and feature film based on the manga bestseller: PARASYTE.
Renowned Japanese Filmmaker Yuya Ishii of OUR FAMILY will be at the opening night on July 9 and will conduct talks on 3pm July 10 in Lopez Center Studio ADMU and 430pm July 11, 2015 at Shang Cineplex.
A TALE OF SAMURAI COOKING: A TRUE LOVE STORY is a compelling saga of Samurai culture through cuisine. The story written by Michio Kashiwada, Yukiko Yamamuro, and writer/director for this film Yuzo Asahara is unique in revealing that samurai spirit is not only about warfare or violence but also of honor and peace. Through every meal there’s a message of peace between the people who prepare and partake of it. Ingredients gathered from the remotest places like mountainous areas to the coastline are used to symbolize the harmony of the kingdoms.
The film also goes against the grain of the stereotypical submissive Japanese wife. Haru is the central character and often displays common sense and reason greater than her husband Yasonobu (Kengo Kora).
Unless you’re intimately familiar with the Edo period in Japanese history, some dialogue and background information in the film would be helpful in appreciating the film better.
The Funaki clan is part of the Samurai class, which serves the Lords as chef. This is a double purpose, not only are they supposed to be skilled in cooking but is also a security measure. Those were chaotic times with upheavals and power struggles within royal clans. Assassination attempts include poisoning apart from deadly armed assault.
Dennai Funaki (Toshiyuki Nishida) is the master chef of the Funaki clan. Haru’s knowledgeable palate and deep understanding of Japanese cuisine amazed him. He was hoping that her own passion for cooking would be able to guide and rub off on his son Yasonobu (Kengo Kora). Dennai’s eldest son had died of plague, who was supposed to be the heir to his Master chef post.
Second son Yasonobu had dedicated his life to Kenjutsu (swordsmanship) roughly translated in the subtitles as fencing. He sees cooking as a task for ‘women and children’. Dennai was hoping that through his marriage with Haru, Yasonobu would develop a genuine love for cooking. In one scene Dennai asks Yasonobu, “Waving a sword and shedding blood, is that all a samurai can do?”
Nishida & Iron Chef’s Chairman Kaga
Samurai chef Dennai played by Toshiyuki Nishida is a 2-time Japan Academy Award winner with dozens of film titles to his credit. One of his most powerful performances was REUNION as a funeral director who dealt with the 2011 earthquake in the city of Kamaishi. REUNION was part of the Eiga Sai film festival at Shang Cineplex, Shang rila Plaza. Watch out for the line up of this fest in a week or so, which allows viewers to watch some of the best Japanese films for free. Here, Nishida is the sage chef that trying to impart his knowledge to an unwilling son.
International audiences will be delighted with the casting of Takeshi Kaga known more popularly as Chairman Kaga in (the original) IRON CHEF. For those who may not know it Takeshi Kaga is one of the more distinguished actors in Japan having lengthy roles not just in film but in theater namely musicals. You have to look closely as you may miss Kaga underneath the Samurai hair and costume. The film has banked on his fictional identity as a gourmet. He is cast here as powerful Lord Naomi Maeda who has taken over the domain that Dennai serves.
Haru Funaki as the central character had to be cast with someone who is obviously attractive to melt the hearts of audiences. She also had to be able to hold her own in a male dominated society, at least with her husband and role in her family.
Japanese superstar Aya Ueto more than fulfills this demanding role. She does have that endearing quality and being her own woman, even in real life. Ueto has won several New Comer awards when she debuted as a film star a few years back. She actually started out as a singer early in her career. Filipinos may see a strong parallelism with our own Sarah Geronimo who was an accomplished singer first and then successfully has a film career. Sarah has endorsed huge brands such as Rexona from Unilever alone. Sarah was rumored to endorse Cream Silk (also from Unilever) but turned out to be Anne Curtis. Ueto has been proclaimed as Japan’s Commercial Queen for 5 different years. She’s statistically the most popularly used image for TVCs, billboards and print ads in Japan.
Her husband Yasonobu (in the film) called Haru a ‘Vixen’ out of spite. She wouldn’t hesitate to disagree with him and often even go so far as to disobey his wishes. For this he would call her Vixen to connote cunning. In Japanese mythology foxes take the shape of women to seduce men and sometimes marry them and have children with magical powers.
fb fan page:
This entry was posted on June 22, 2015 by jude bautista. It was filed under Film, Food, People and was tagged with 2-time Japan Academy Award winner, A TALE OF SAMURAI COOKING: A TRUE LOVE STORY, Anne Curtis, Asian cinema, Aya Ueta, Aya Ueto, billboards, Bushi no Kondate, cable channel, Chairman Kaga, Commercial Queen, common sense, Cream Silk, cuisine, Dennai, Dennai Funaki, Edo period, Eiga Sai film festival, Eigai Sai Film festival, fencing, Filipinos, foxes, Funaki clan, gourmet, Haru, Haru Funaki, Hong Kong, honor, impertinent, International audiences, IRON CHEF, Japan, Japan Foundation, Japanese film, Japanese films, Japanese history, Japanese mythology, Japanese superstar, Japanese title, Jasmine Curtis Smith, Joy L Buensalido, Jude Bautista, Julia Montes, Kengo Kora, Kenjutsu, knowledgeable palate, Korea, Lord Naomi Maeda, Marline Dualan, master chef, Michio Kashiwada, most popularly used image, Mutsuko Ikeda, peace, PR, print ads, Reunion, REXONA, Roland Samson, saga, Samurai chef, Samurai class, Samurai culture, samurai spirit, Sarah Geronimo, SCREEN RED, Shang Cineplex, Shang Rila Plaza, Shangri La Plaza, Shuji Takatori, singer, submissive Japanese wife, Sunsilk, swordsmanship, Takeshi Kaga, Toshiyuki Nishida, TVCs, Unilever, Vixen, warfare, Warrior's Menu, Yasonobu, Yukiko Yamamuro, Yuzo Asahara.