11:00 AM - 02:00 PM (PDT)
JAPAN HOUSE Salon, Level 5
JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles relaunches its popular film program series with a screening of the delectable 1985 “ramen western” Tampopo, directed by Juzo Itami. The program begins with a talk by renowned music composer Kunihiko Murai, who served as the Music Director of the film.
The film is an important work in the history of Japanese cinema in the U.S. It is not just a movie about noodles. Tampopo is an unforgettable, mystical experience: it’s a rich essay on film and food, politics and culture, sex and death, order and transgression, meaning and absurdity. It’s about everything.
In his talk, Mr. Murai unravels the creative process and intentions of filmmaker Juzo Itami through the untold stories behind the use of music in the film. Mr. Murai shares reminiscences about working with director Juzo Itami and his cast on this iconic film and discuss how his musical selections relates to the themes and stories represented.
After Mr. Murai’s moderated talk, Tampopo was screened, and guests were served Tampopo-style ramen.
*To watch the video in full screen, please click on the image above, then click on the YouTube icon on the lower right-hand corner.
Juzo Itami’s beloved “ramen western” from 1985 was hugely popular in Japan and beyond, helping to fuel the ramen boom in Japan and create ramen fans all around the world. It was screened in Museum of Modern Art in NY in March, 1987, and since then quickly gained worldwide recognition. Starring Ken Watanabe, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Nobuko Miyamoto and with music directed by Kunihiko Murai, Tampopo has been one of the world’s most highly acclaimed and popular food-themed films for decades and has now been restored in 4K in response to its unabated popularity from around the world.
Juzo Itami has been recognized as one of the most highly reputed film directors in Japan along with Akira Kurosawa and Yasujiro Ozu. (Length of film: 114 minutes)
Kunihiko “Kuni” Murai is a Tokyo-born Japanese composer/producer who resides in Los Angeles. He has written over four hundred popular songs and his musical compositions have graced more than thirty films. He founded legacy Japanese labels ALFA MUSIC in 1969 and ALFA RECORDS in 1977, and introduced Japanese musicians such as YMO (Haruomi Hosono, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Yukihiro Takahashi) to the world.
Mr. Murai wrote the beloved Japanese standards “Give Me Wings” (“Tsubasa wo Kudasai,” 1971) and “A Ballad of Rainbow and Snow” (“Niji to Yuki no Ballad,” 1972), both part of Japan’s educational curriculum and sung nationwide for 50 years. “Give Me Wings” was performed at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and “A Ballad for Rainbow and Snow” was written for the 1972 Sapporo Olympics and performed again at the Nagano Olympics in 1998.
He was the Music Director for Tampopo (1985), widely considered one of the great food films, and even makes a cameo appearance in the movie. He was also the Music Director and Composer for Lone Wolf and Cub (Kozure Ôkami, 1972), which became the source material for Shogun Assassin (1980), a highly influential work in the career of Quentin Tarantino. His more recent works include the musical compositions for La Comtesse de Cagliostro, and a piano quintet piece written for the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC, “Sakura On The Potomac” (2016) In 2018, he published Kuni’s LA Diary, and his serialized story “Montparnasse 1934” can be found online in Japanese at realsound.jp.
About the Ramen
Ramen served during the program replicated the traditional Tokyo shoyu-style ramen featured in the movie. The soup is a clear chicken- and pork-based stock seasoned with soy sauce, featuring handmade noodles and topped with pork chashū, seasoned egg, bamboo shoots and nori. Allergens: Soy, wheat, eggs, fish.
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The film “Tampopo” is a classic for many reasons, not least because of its role in introducing the cozy space of the family-owned ramen shop to global audiences. To learn more about Japan’s ramen shops, read a new article tracing their evolution from post-War economic lifeline to today’s global phenomenon – without ever losing their nostalgic charm.Read Now