The Taste of Tea
Meet the Harunos, a rather unconventional, but happy and loving family nonetheless. They live in a small town in the mountains just out of Tokyo where life is good and quiet - but that doesn’t mean they don’t have their own little problems. As 8-year old Sachiko tries to get rid of a giant version of herself who seems to pop up everywhere, her older brother Hajime, privately wrestles with his love-struck heart. Meanwhile, their mother is working hard, coming out of retirement as an animator, as her husband and professional hypnotist Nobuo watches on with slight apprehension. Yoshiko’s brother, Ayano is just visiting his hometown and staying with the family, but also has a hidden agenda; he needs to come to terms with a romance that ended years ago. Even Nobuo’s brother and successful manga artist Todoroki has his problems. And lastly there’s Grandpa, the most bizarre and perhaps the most perceptive of all, who continues to search for a better way to live life to the full. The Taste of Tea is a unique and gentle family portrait tackling the universal themes of time, people and their lives. (Amazon.com)
July 17, 2004
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A Taste of Tea - preview film before classroom use
A Taste of Tea by Katsuhito
Families everywhere can be quirky and the Harunos are a perfect example. In this film the viewer sees three generations of a Japanese family living together in a rural area north of Tokyo. Each family member has a unique personality and challenge.
The young daughter, Sachiko, has a larger version of herself that appears to her without explanation. She tries to rid herself of this larger self without success. Hajime, her older brother is experiencing unrequited love and raging hormones. He has the unfortunate luck to be on a train when people dressed in space alien costumes come aboard. No explanation is given. He is also shown in a restaurant where two strangers are openly discussing the prospect of the woman having her breasts enhanced. The mother, Yoshiko, is struggling to return to work as an animator. She works diligently on her drawings, with help from her father. He poses for her, as she tries to get the right sequence of drawings for her film. Although the grandfather seems quite eccentric, near the end of the film each family member receives a remarkable book that he made for each of them prior to his death. Nobou, the father, is a hypnotist. He often practices on his family. He is an expert at playing GO, a Japanese game played on a grid with black and white stones. He teaches his son how to play. Hajime uses this knowledge to impress a girl that is new in his school. The cast of main characters is completed by a visiting uncle. He left town to pursue a music career but returns to find closure with a girl he left behind.
This film shows some beautiful scenery of Japan. Rice fields, cherry blossoms, streams, and peaceful countryside settings are included. I am not sure how realistically this rural area of Japan is portrayed because I have never been to Japan, but the film makes it appear very inviting.
This film is long – 2 hours and 23 minutes. It would be difficult to show this film in its entirety. A teacher using this film would have to be extremely careful in selecting scenes to share with students. The film is unrated and includes vulgar language that could have been replaced when the subtitles were written (*sshole, f*ck, t*ts, d*ckhead, sh*t, b*tch.) I know most high school and middle school students are familiar with these words, but language like this is not appropriate in a classroom setting.