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7 ways udon connects people and tanukis

Souta Tawara returns to his hometown after the death of his father. Souta moved to Tokyo to pursue a web designing career. The visit to his hometown is supposed to be a reprieve from the busy urban life. Upon arrival, he learns that the family restaurant is no longer in business and finds a blonde-haired boy inside a cooking pot. Souta decides to adopt the boy and call him Poco. Poco is a shapeshifting tanuki. Souta and Poco, together, start a new journey of self-discovery, udon tasting, and more tanuki encounters.

The heartwarming moments between Souta and Poco prove that food, in this case, udon connects people and tanukis.

01

Noodles = Bond

The flour turned into noodles represent bonds. Souta and Poco’s initial encounter was fleeting, similar to a flour dusting. However, as time goes by, both find that their presence in each other lives matters. As their relationship grows, their bond also deepens. The best part, the bond also extends to others, making a full circle, a bowl of noodles.

02

Salt = Regrets

Life without regrets is a life without lessons. Souta deeply regrets losing in touch with his father after moving to Tokyo. Salt gives depth to the Udon noodle. Similarly, regrets give flavour to life. They help shape who we are and what we become. As Souta cares for Poco, he realizes that his father never stopped caring for him too. In the end, Souta becomes aware that even though he and his father lost touch. The memories they both carry ensure that they will always be father and son.  

03

Water = Laughter

Udon soup uses water as a base. In a relationship, laughter is a base. Water brings an abundance of life. Laughter brings about positive emotions. Souta may have initially thought that Poco is lonely. However, it was Souta who is lonely. Poco ends up bringing laughter into Souta’s life and others too. Laughs shared become cherished moments.

04

Dashi = Family

Each Japanese family has their version of preparing dashi. It is a good representation of a family itself. Souta tries to recreate his father’s udon. Along the way, he discovers the connection between his father, udon, and the people that frequent the restaurant. His search for the family’s udon recipe brings him closer to Poco and his sister. It also creates deeper connections to those around Souta.  

Anime

Episode: 12

Run: 2016 (Fall)

Written By: Natsuko Takahashi

Directed By: Seikei Takuno

Studio: Liden Films

English: Crunchyroll

Manga

Volumes: 12

Written By: Nadoka Shinomaru

Publication: 2012 (Summer)

Publisher: Shinchosha

 

Tanuki

Tanuki is a Japanese Raccoon Dog—it has a significant presence in Japanese folklore. They are known to be mischievous, jolly, a master at disguises, and shapeshifting. Tanukis are also known for being absent-minded and gullible.

 

Udon

Udon, according to Wikipedia (2020), is a type of thick, wheat-flour noodle used frequently in Japanese cuisine. It is often served hot as a noodle soup in its simplest form, as kake udon, with a mildly flavoured broth called kakejiru, which is of dashi, soy sauce, and mirin. Kagawa Prefecture is known as the Udon Prefecture of Japan.

 

05

Soy Sauce = Courage

Soy sauce is a very flavourful ingredient. However, it takes courage to use soy sauce in any cooking. Soy sauce, if used less, does not have any effect. If used more, it can overpower everything else, ruining the soup. Souta was deeply concerned about leaving Poco on his own when he returns to Tokyo. He courageously decides to stay in his hometown. The decision changed Souta’s life to a happier perspective and full of possibilities. They say it takes a bit of courage to make a difference.

06

Mirin = Past

Mirin is an essential condiment in Japanese cuisine. It has lower alcohol and higher sugar content. Like the past, there’s very little we can do about it, yet it can play a significant impact on how we presently live. Souta keeps on blaming himself. He was selfish for leaving his hometown to pursue a career. Souta blames himself for leaving his father. Poco opened Souta’s heart and eyes that it was Souta’s father, who let him go. Souta understood that his father only wanted one thing for him and his sister, which is their happiness.  

07

Garnish = Future

Udon has garnishes in many ways. The same thing with the future. It is yet to be known. Poco taught Souta what it is to live in the present. The end is full of promises. Souta use to worry a lot about the future. Coming back home, gave him a revelation, that worrying about the future is a burden. What he does today does impact what the end will be. He decides to cherish each day with Poco, his family, friends, and udon too.

 

If you got time to savour and enjoy authentic Japanese udon, do also share a bowl or two with Souta and Poco in Udon no Kuni no Kin-iro Kemari [Poco’s Udon World]. They will take you on a fun journey of the udon way of life.  

 

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