Japan

Island romance, thrift shops, and udon.

Movie: L’étranger de la Plage (The Stranger by the Beach)

The Stranger by the Beach (2020) - IMDb
Photo copyright: IMDB

I watch a lot of Japanese movies in general, so I chose something a little different this time. This is an animated short film set on Okinawa, about a young man who falls in love with an aspiring writer. The younger guy is clearly in high school when the movie starts, but they never say how old the other guy is. I was a little concerned because of this, but the younger guy, Mio, moves away for a few years so no actual romance happens until he comes back. Mio has a crush on Shun, but he thinks it’ll make Mio’s life harder to be gay so he doesn’t want to return his feelings. At least, I think that’s what was going on. I was watching this in Japanese with Korean subs, so I may have missed something. There was a very confusing part with Shun’s childhood friend and ex-fiancée, who appeared to still be in love with Shun even though she knows he’s gay. Overall, I liked the art style. There were lots of nice beach and sunset scenes where it really felt like you were there. It was pretty, but in a very different landscape style than anything like Studio Ghibli does.

Other movie recommendations:

  • The Happiness of the Katakuris
  • Kamikaze Girls
  • Any of the Studio Ghibli films, but my personal favorites are:
  • Kiki’s Delivery Service
  • Whisper of the Heart
  • Howl’s Moving Castle

Book: The Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami

Like the quote on the cover says, this was indeed a quirky novel. It follows the life of a woman who works in a thrift shop, and her relationships with her co-workers and some of the customers. There’s not really a major plot, it’s just seeing the conversations and interactions between the characters. The main characters are the woman, her co-worker, their boss, and their boss’ sister. I think my favorite character was the sister. Although all the characters are quirky, she was the quirkiest in my opinion. The book isn’t without drama- there are some strange customers, the boss wants to know about his sister’s boyfriend, etc. It was an entertaining read.

Food: Curry Udon

This wasn’t what I was originally going to make, but I was having a hard time finding Japanese ingredients. I make a lot of Japanese curry anyway, but I’ve never made udon or curry udon before. Since I already have the curry sauce this was a pretty easy meal to make. I didn’t really follow a recipe for this, just vaguely used the back of the box. I sautéed the vegetables (eggplant and carrot) and tofu briefly before adding some water. While that was cooking I boiled the noodles, then dumped them in the pot and added the sauce as well. Even without measuring the water-to-sauce ratio it still turned out well. I usually make curry with rice, but I liked it with noodles as well so I’ll definitely make it again.

The curry sauce and noodles I used.

One thought on “Japan

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