|This summer, from the producer and director of
comes a "noodle eastern" with real fiber!
The island of Shikoku. A rural town.
And a man bored out of his wits.
Kosuke is 31, and tired of his hometown where nothing happens. On a whim, he departs for New York with dreams of making it big. 6 months later, he straggles home... defeated, and saddled with debt.
Awaiting him are his old friends, a caring sister, a disgruntled father ...and a bowl of noodles. Namely, "udon" noodles. The town is built around udon, sustained by udon, nationally famous for udon. The region even lends its name to a particular type of udon - "Sanuki Udon."
It is the town's fixation with udon that essentially drove Kosuke away. Little does he realize upon his inglorious return that he - and the rest of the free world - are about to rediscover the miraculous wonder of this local delicacy.
The steam rises on a vastly entertaining film!
The same talented production staff that shattered Japanese box office records with the thrilling "Bayside Shakedown" series reassembles to explore the mysteriously delectable depths of Japanese folk cuisine with UDON, thick noodles made from only flour, water and salt. From such humble ingredients comes a noodle dish so simple, so cheap, yet so infinitely profound in flavor and satisfying in consistency, that it has become an irreplaceable staple of the local diet, written into their culinary DNA. Udon is "soul food."
The son of a noodle shop.
Badgered since grade school as the local "udon" shop kid," Kosuke (Yusuke Santa Maria) is a 31-year-old local native who has grown sick of his hometown and its backwater culture. "There's nothing here. No dreams. No future. All we got is "udon"! Yearning for more, he leaves his provincial Kagawa Prefecture. In fact, he exiles himself all the way to New York City, where miracles happen every day. Six months later, groaning in debt, Kosuke finds himself returning home a frustrated failure. To his surprise, he is welcomed back with open arms by his sister, Banri (Kyoka Suzuki), her husband, Ryoichi (Fumiyo Kohinata), and his old neighborhood friends, who were all genuinely worried about him. Only his father (Masahiko Mokuba) gives him the cold shoulder as he pounds out his noodle dough. Back to life as usual, Kosuke climbs into the family truck to go visit his mother's grave but as his luck would have it, out of gas in the hills.
Meeting the Girl
A newly promoted editor at the local town magazine, Kyoko Miyagawa (Manami Konishi), is assigned to write a food column as the feature for the next issue. Excited about her first solo assignment, Kyoko takes off to research her subject but is disappointed to find her centerpiece restaurant has closed down. With an almost supernatural lack of direction, she finds herself thoroughly lost on some back road deep in the hills. The only sign of life? Kosuke, stopped at the side of the road, who flags her down. As Kyoko eyes him suspiciously, something appears that makes them both run for their lives.
The Most Righteous Bowl of Udon Ever!
Kyoko's powers of misdirection send the two deeper into the hills. Desperately lost enough to earn the status of "missing," Kosuke and Kyoko stumble across an old farmhouse, plopped in the middle of nowhere and seemingly abandoned. They slide open the front door and can't believe their eyes. In the center of an old-fashioned dirt-floor kitchen an old woman assiduously pounds out udon noodles. Nearby, a vat of boiling water issues a thick column steam into the air. Kosuke and Kyoko's attention turns to a glistening bowl of "udon" noodles in front of them, the vivid green of sliced scallions stewing on the surface of the broth present a sublime contrast with the freshly boiled noodles. They are compelled forward. They sample it. And then... they shudder! Thei perfect elasticity of the noodles, the subtle yet full-bodied flavor of the broth, sets their tastes buds reeling. This is a bowl of udon to be reckoned with.
Prepare for a nationwide UDON craze!
Kosuke has had a life transforming moment. He soon finds himself on the magazine staff, writing a column with Kyoko that is destined to spark an udon Renaissance. Little do they anticipate the magnitude of the craze they've just set in motion. The dish undergoes an explosive resurgence in popularity that spreads out from Kagawa Prefecture across the entire archipelago, infecting the nation with a passion for "udon" never seen before.
The real "UDON" story begins here!
But all good things must come to an end eventually. The tide rushes out just as quickly as it rushes in, and as the udon boom begins to wane, Kosuke laments his father's inability to capitalize on the opportunity, simply carrying on in his modest ways as always. But Kosuke is a changed man, a man with a mission, and newfound concern for his father. Together, they embark on another new chapter in their noodle adventure, with a vision of udon establishing itself as the "soul food" of Japan.
- "Udon Country" - Sanuki (Kagawa Prefecture)
Though Japan's smallest in terms of land mass, Kagawa Prefecture and its population of approximately one million is served by nearly 900 udon shops. By comparison, there are 515 McDonald's hamburger outlets serving a population of 12.5 million in Tokyo.
- Udon Pilgrimages
A variety of udon shops appear in this film, thanks to the dedicated research by devoted noodle lover and the film's director, Motohiro, who hails from Kagawa Prefecture. Motohiro visited nearly 200 noodle shops in making this film, an endeavor no less ambitious than the famous 88-shrine pilgrimage of Shikoku. In fact, so-called "udon pilgrimages" have become popular in Kagawa. This film showcases the great variety of udon dishes in the region, sending film audiences on an appetizing virtual "udon pilgrimage" themselves.
- Udon Noodle Factory-Diners
Udon is a daily staple for Kagawa Prefecture residents, who average about 3 bowls a week. The prevalence of so-called "udon factory-diners" may often strike tourists as odd establishments but they function as noodle wholesalers for schools and hospitals while also feeding local walk-in customers in side stalls attached to the factory. From those bringing their own bowls to people purchasing uncooked noodles to take home, these factory-diners fulfill a variety of customer needs and testify to udon as a fixture in the daily lives of the local community. At the crux of the current udon boom is a growing craving to return to simple, fresh, healthy and affordable food amid changing dietary habits brought about by the increased availability of imported and processed foods. But even this phenomenon is going to extremes as udon tours have sprouted up offering people a chance to fly from Tokyo to Kagawa to enjoy a bowl of 100-yen (less than a dollar) noodles at a slightly prohibitive round-trip expense of 50,000 yen (roughly $450). Nevertheless, the notion of udon as a back-to-basics, indispensable "soul food" for the masses is here to stay.
- Udon Legends
A) Uko Ferry Udon
A ferry boat once shuttled between Shikoku at Takamatsu city and the main island of Honshu (at Uno Harbor). From 1909, it transported not only passengers but trains across the Seto Inland Sea, and was an indispensable lifeline for the people of Sanuki. When the ferry line ceased operation with the completion of the Seto Ohashi Bridge in 1988, the people lost local "udon" icon. The ferry had a vendor on deck known for serving limp and bland tasting udon, but was nevertheless cherished by locals as a warm, symbolic "farewell" or "welcome home" for departing and arriving locals. 20 years later, people still reminisce wistfully about those noodles.
B) Captain Udon
Director Motohiro has introduced so many intriguing characters to Japan's pantheon of pop culture that the emergence of a new one close to his heart is sure to draw special attention. Despite an unoriginal sounding name, Motohiro promises that "Captain Udon" will become a larger than life figure. His calling card? "As long as these udon noodles remain firm and tasty, evil has no breeding ground."