Shiawase no kaori


The Flavor of Happiness


from Shiawase no kaori 2008

Movie Data

Title: The Flavor of Happiness
Original Title: しあわせのかおり Shiawase no kaori
Published: 2008
Length: 124 minutes

Director: Mitsuhiro Mihara
Script: Mitsuhiro Mihara

Miki Nakatani: Yamashita Takako
Tatsuya Fuji: Wang Qingkuo
Kei Tanaka: Akira Takahashi


Ageing cook, Wang (Fuji Tatsuya) is the chef-owner of a local Chinese restaurant called Little Shanghai. Cooking his favourite dishes from his native Shaoxing in China, his restaurant is favourite with the regular locals which brings it to the attention attention of a department store, who wants to create a range of dishes for retail.
Their rep, widowed mother Takako (Nakatani Miki), is sent to visit Wang, but she is unable to convince him to do a deal. Persistently visiting his restaurant, she tries each of the dishes and falls in love with the restaurant, whilst uncovering her own desire to learn how to cook for herself. When Wang suffers a stroke and the restaurant is threatened with closure, Takako quits her job and offers to be Wan's apprentice. Reluctant at first, Wan finally accepts, and Takako's major task is to impress some very important clients.
Admittedly not the most original plot, this one does provide a nice twist on the idea. Not just focusing on the usual apprentice-will-succeed story, director Mihara Mitsuhiro focuses on exploring the senses. Mihara does his best by taking us also on a beautiful visual and aural journey, not only in the kitchen, but to different parts of Japan and to Shaoxing in China as well.
The backgrounds to the characters provide for some neat and touching moments throughout the movie, and the chemistry between the actors is excellent.