Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2016: Noriben – The Recipe For Fortune (のんちゃんのり弁)

Yesterday I went to see another of the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme films at the Watershed, Noriben – The Recipe For Fortune (のんちゃんのり弁).


(Image source)

Guaranteed to whet your appetite, this heartfelt human drama traces a single mother’s journey to independence after an appetising revelation sees her decide to pursue the opening of her own bento shop.

When 31-year old Komaki (Manami Konishi) decides to leave her aspiring writer but jobless husband and move back to her working class hometown with her young daughter Non-chan, she finds her lack of qualifications and making a living difficult to juggle with the hardships of being a single mother. But when the noriben lunchbox (a bento featuring toasted seaweed on rice) that she packed for Non-chan becomes a huge hit at school, Komaki decides to try and make ends meet by opening her own bento shop and offering inexpensive but undoubtedly delicious food. But when an old childhood flame, persistent ex-husband, and a reluctant culinary mentor begin to complicate matters, Komaki’s dreams of independence and financial stability start to become clouded.

Packed with delicious visual imagery and featuring home cuisine created by renowned Japanese food stylist Nami Iijima, this charming tale is both a pleasure for your senses and lesson in how to make a perfectly balanced lunch from rice and leftovers! (Watershed)


I thoroughly enjoyed this film! It was a perfect example of what Japanese cinema does very well – it captured a short snippet of everyday life, and portrayed it beautifully. Everything from the simple small-town streets, to the delicious-looking food made me ache to be in Japan. Although the actors were great, and the story was hilarious at times, I have to say the food was the star of the show. In fact, this film actually had a food stylist, Nami Iijima (飯島奈美), who has worked on other food-centric movies and has several popular cookbooks. If you like food p*rn, this is a film for you!

Based on a manga series from the late ’90s (which was also turned into a TV drama series), the film actually included some nods to its cartoon past. When explaining what a ‘noriben’ is, the live action of the film cuts away into a lovely animated section which breaks down the contents of the noriben lunchbox. It’s humorous, and informative (I’d actually not heard of a noriben before yesterday!).

Cross section of a noriben

Cross section of a noriben

(Image source)

If you’d like to learn how to make a noriben, I recommend checking out JustBento.com – the home of all things bento! Just for fun (well, and for tomorrow’s lunch) I’ve had a go at making my own very simple noriben. I’ve just got a layer of rice with ‘tamago furikake’ (egg sprinkles), a layer of quorn chicken cooked with miso and peppers, another layer of rice and then the nori (seaweed).

My noriben

My noriben

Here’s the trailer (sorry, I couldn’t find a subtitled one):

To find out more about the films showing as part of the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme, visit the official website: www.jpf-film.org.uk

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