Ochazuke no aji

Black and White . 115 minutes

Shochiku Ofuna Studio

Written By

Ozu Yasujiro
Noda Kogo


Atsuta Yuharu

Music By

Saito Ichiro


Saburi Shin (Satake Mokichi)
Kogure Michiyo (Taeko)
Tsuruta Koji (Noboru)
Ry Chishu (Hirayama Sadao)
Awajima Chikage (Amamiya Aya)
Tsujima Keiko (Setsuko)

Snobbish uptown lady Taeko is bored with her countrybred, taciturn husband Mokichi. She makes up lame lies to steal away with her friends to a hot spring resort, where she publicly dismisses him as "Mr Insensitive". Their marital discord comes to a head when Taeko discovers that Mokichi was complicit in her niece's walk-out from her arranged date. She runs off after having a fit over Mokichi's uncouth eating habits, unaware that he will be posted overseas. But over a bowl of ochazuke, she comes to appreciate his down-to-earth philosophy.

Thoughts from Ozu
The script was written during the war. As the company thought it was such a waste to let a once-censored script sit and gather dust, I fished it out of the drawer. In the original screenplay, the protagonist was called up to the front. Since times had changed, that was amended to a job transfer to South America. Admittedly, this weakened the dramatic development. Nevertheless, what mattered was the woman's perspective regarding men. Rather than dwelling on his appearance, or whether he has refined taste and interests, I wanted to emphasize that as a man, he has his good points. Regrettably, this film was not a success.


he 45th film shot from June to September 1952. Initially, the Ozu/Noda team worked out an entirely different, serious subject matter for the film following Early Summer, the story of an old mother and her five children, set in the countryside. Since this was quite dark and serious, the course was changed. After his return from the Chinese battlefront in 1940, Ozu had teamed up with Ikeda Tadao for a screenplay called The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice, which did not pass the censorship. Now, 12 years later, this scenario was revived. However, the extreme political differences between 1940 and 1952 made many changes necessary. The precondition for eating ochazuke (green tea over rice) had been the husband's call to arms, which was changed to his business trip abroad. By introducing the young office worker Okada Noboru, a kind of modernization was brought in. In the details, the effort to add contemporary manners can be observed. However, there are no substantial changes concerning the plot. In particular, since living space did not change in The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice, the essential development of the original remained intact. The couple in this film, again, lives in a mansion in Kojimachi, that is, in an "uptown house". It seems almost impossible that a country-born office worker, even if an extremely brilliant one could aspire to live there in the first generation, if it were not for his wife's father, probably a leading businessman. Probably the biggest miscalculation at the time of the remodeling of a 12-year-old scenario was to cast the same actor, Saburi Shin, in the role of the husband, raising the age of the couple (Saburi was born in 1909). The role of the wife was to be played by Kuwano Michiko (1915-1946). The contrast between the wife with an "uptown" lifestyle and the husband with a provincial lifestyle, the wife's selfishness, and the husband's sense of incongruity would have been more natural because of their youth. In 1953, their more advanced age deprives the film of its lightness and freshness. The adaptation to contemporary times goes against the spirit of the original work. The soul of the wartime scenario was its opposition to the trend of the times, to the point of not passing the censorship. The significance of The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice lies in Ozu's homecoming to a Tokyo setting.

Articles / Essays
The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice : Trains and Cars and Planes
by site contributor Doron B. Cohen (Kyoto)

Personal Thoughts and Comments
"I didn't tell you a lie. I just...didn't tell you." With Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice, Ozu uses his traditional simplistic filmmaking methods with a blend of some complex camera work including detailed tracking shots (usually in transitions of scenes). Overall the film is absolutely breathtaking on a visual level and different from the standard Ozu style. Of course Ozu is a mastery of subtle aesthetics, and even though he implores some variety of techniques or camera movement, Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice is at its most emotionally powerful and poetic when the camera is static (such as in the unforgettable sequence that finds Taeko on the train alone reflecting or escaping the imagined happiness of her marriage). The emotional connection is also evident as here Ozu presents the relationship of a middle-aged husband and wife who are losing interest in their arranged marriage. Like his 1937 comedy What Did the Lady Forget?, this often recalls the tone of Ernst Lubitsch influence in its playfulness. The film is certainly among Ozu's most light-hearted films and still contains much of the subtle sad melodrama he was accustomed for. The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice is a touching and hopeful film of the strength and revival of love. Ozu expresses sympathy for the husband but does not judge or condescend the husband or the wife, rather detailing the relationship of an arranged married couple with conflicting interests and lifestyles. The opening scenes set the playful tone, as both the husband and wife are seen by lying, or perhaps they are just hiding their true feelings from each other and from themselves. The wife seems to get a revelation of her own selfish and understands that what she thinks she despise about her husband could actually be what she loves. In the end there is hope and Ozu closes the film with a playful tracking shot that embodies the Lubitsch-touch tone of the film. With Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice Ozu slightly alters his traditional postwar style while keeping the lasting emotional depth and themes, and ultimately the result remains as universal as his greatest masterworks.

Film Images

"Pillow Shots"
A clip from The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice
dvd (R2)