Tampopo, the Best ‘Ramen Western’ in History


Poster for Tampopo Theatrical Release - Janus Films

Released in 1985, this second feature film from Juzo Itami is a ‘ramen western’, alluding to the famous ‘spaghetti western’ sub-genre.

This film is considered as a sort of food-erotica comedy. It contains western elements, violence, spying and zany stories, the latter often being linked to food (for example the woman who goes around fondling fruit and cheese in a supermarket, and the couple whose bedroom antics feature eggs).

The heroine, Tampopo, is a young widow at the helm of a soup and noodle restaurant in a working-class neighbourhood in Tokyo. That’s until she meets Goro, a trucker who looks like a cowboy. Goro likes to eat well, but he finds that Tampopo’s ramen is ‘missing something’. Keen to learn how to cook better, Tampopo eventually convinces Goro to help her perfect her skills.

Humorous and satirical, the film nevertheless maintains a deeply respectful attitude towards food. What’s more, Tampopo is Juzo Itami’s only film to have been released in cinemas in France. It’s a film that’s worth another taste, like a good Japanese soup.