81 user 57 critic

Tampopo (1985)

Not Rated | | Comedy | September 1987 (USA)
A truck driver stops at a small family-run noodle shop and decides to help its fledgling business. The story is intertwined with various vignettes about the relationship of love and food.



5 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »





Complete credited cast:
Tsutomu Yamazaki ...
Nobuko Miyamoto ...
Man in White Suit
Rikiya Yasuoka ...
Kinzô Sakura ...
Yoshi Katô ...
Noodle-Making Master
Hideji Ôtaki ...
Rich Old Man
Fukumi Kuroda ...
Man in White Suit's Mistress
Setsuko Shinoi ...
Old Man's Mistress
Yoriko Dôguchi ...
Pearl Diver (Oyster girl)
Masahiko Tsugawa ...
Supermarket Manager
Yoshihiro Katô ...
Man in White Suit's Henchman
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Mario Abe ...
Restaurant's Boss
Sen Hara ...
Old Woman in Supermarket


In this humorous paean to the joys of food, the main story is about trucker Goro, who rides into town like a modern Shane to help Tampopo set up the perfect noodle soup restaurant. Woven into this main story are a number of smaller stories about the importance of food, ranging from a gangster who mixes hot sex with food, to an old woman who terrorizes a shopkeeper by compulsively squeezing his wares. Written by Reid Gagle

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The first Japanese noodle western!




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

September 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tampopo: A Ramen Western  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$16,410 (USA) (21 October 2016)


$224,097 (USA) (10 February 2017)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


When Pisuken drives over to challenge Goro to a fight, he pulls up in a Chevrolet Camaro. Since Japanese cars have the steering wheel on the right, an American car with a wheel on the left is a sign of wealth and status, since it means you had to import the car yourself. [Looking at that scene right now and the driver of the white car is on the right - passenger side of the car.] See more »


Student of ramen eating: [voiceover] One fine day... I went out with an old man. He's studied noodles for 40 years. He was showing me the right way to eat them.
Student of ramen eating: Master... soup first or noodles first?
Old gentleman: First, observe the whole bowl.
Student of ramen eating: Yes, sir.
Old gentleman: Appreciate its gestalt. Savor the aromas. Jewels of fat glittering on the surface. Shinachiku roots shining. Seaweed slowly sinking. Spring onions floating. Concentrate on the three pork slices. They play the key role, but stay modestly hidden. First caress the surface with the ...
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Crazy Credits

The entire closing credit sequence is a shot a woman breastfeeding her child; the camera slowly zooms in on the baby's mouth sucking his mother's breast. See more »


Spoofed in Deddo sushi (2012) See more »

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User Reviews

Possibly the greatest film about food ever made
20 July 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Who doesn't love food?

Itami Juzo's Tampopo is a heartwarming film about people who love, and are often obsessed with, food. The main narrative follows two truck drivers, Gun (Yamazaki Tsutomu) and Goro (Watanabe Ken) who stumble upon a run down, unpopular ramen noodle shop. The shop's owner, Tampopo (Miyamoto Nobuko), is running it all by herself and isn't too experienced in the "art" of making good ramen. After a brawl, Gun and Goro take it upon themselves to improve Tampopo's cooking and redefine her shop. The film not only focuses on this narrative, but is interspersed with brilliantly transitioned scenes of people's interaction with food: a white-suited yakuza (Yakusho Koji) and his mistress perform erotic acts with food, a group of homeless turn out to be master chefs, a young corporate subordinate upstages all of his superiors with his knowledge of French cuisine at an expensive dinner, an old lady sneaks around in a supermarket just to feel the food, among others.

Never missing a step, Yamazaki Tsutomu fully embodies the character of Gun. His tough assertiveness, along with the willingness to fight and instigate others, gives him many of the characteristics that John Wayne's famous cowboy persona's had. In fact, the entire cast is filled with likable, charismatic characters. Tampopo is spunky, determined, and easy to root for–we want her to succeed in her quest for ramen- making perfection. Yakusho Koji is also a welcome presence with his depiction of the erotic possibilities of food; in one scene he cracks an egg and the yolk is passed around between his mouth and his beautiful mistress's. It is ultimately the way in which these characters are portrayed on screen that gives them such a likable presence. Food is universally loved–showing characters and their intense passion for food strikes a chord with everybody. It also makes you hungry.

Itami's use of scene transitions is brilliant in its unobtrusiveness. Scenes suddenly shift without the viewer even noticing–it's seamless perfection. For example, there is a scene in which Tampopo is exercising outside under Gun's supervision when a group of businessmen in suits walks past. The camera decides to follow the businessmen to their destination, a French restaurant, to watch them order their food, then follows the waiter out into the main seating area where it stops to observe a group of women receiving a lesson on proper Western dining etiquette (eating without slurping…although a Western man in the restaurant is slurping his noodles loudly, much to the chagrin of the teacher). As the businessmen's waiter passes through, the camera follows him back to the business party. You can't help but enjoy the way this all works–the transitions make for a creative and ultimately successful approach to telling a story with multiple plot lines and random happenings.

Itami created a masterpiece here, one that should be seen and loved by everyone. There are not many films that display the kind of warm splendor that Tampopo emanates. You cannot avoid smiling throughout the movie. The characters become deeply involving and one cannot help but feel connected with them. This is the ultimate film for food lovers. Try to avoid the pangs hunger while watching. I couldn't.

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