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The Taste of Tea (2009)

Takahiro Sato , Maya Banno , Katsuhito Ishii  |  Unrated |  DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Takahiro Sato, Maya Banno, Tadanobu Asano, Tomokazu Miura, Satomi Tezuka
  • Directors: Katsuhito Ishii
  • Format: Dolby, Anamorphic, Color, NTSC
  • Language: Japanese (Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: VIZ Pictures, Inc.
  • DVD Release Date: July 3, 2007
  • Run Time: 143 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000PE0H0E
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #199,115 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Taste of Tea" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Like Ozu's Tokyo Story, The Taste of Tea takes the long view of a Japanese family, though the eccentric Harunos are unconcerned with the moral quandaries Ozu's characters typically face. Director Katsuhito Ishii, known in America for his animated sequence in Kill Bill Pt. 2, gives the viewer a comedic slice of life in this artistic family's rural village. With a mother reentering the animation business, a musical grandfather conceptually akin to Yoko Ono, and a hypnotist father, siblings Hajime (Takahiro Sato) and Sachiko (Maya Banno) have the mental freedom to roam deep into imagined worlds that comprise the film's core. Hajime's infatuation with a girl at school becomes an obsession that bears fruit due to his commitment to meeting her. Sachiko's giant ghost follows her, leading her to believe that if she can master a back flip on the gym bars that she will scare the ghost away. The Taste of Tea relies upon odd, awkward moments of reflection or confusion. Hajime isn't sure what to make of his Uncle Ayano's (Tadanobu Asano) story involving a chicken egg in the forest. Similarly, Sachiko runs for her life when a man emerges out of the mud next to her. The absurdity in the narrative is underscored by visual impossibilities, for example a train rushing out of Hajime's head, and other bizarre live-action animation. Interestingly, each character's dilemma is based on external forces. Tensions between family members are non-existent in The Taste of Tea, reinforcing the idea that artistic minds must stick together in an increasingly unpredictable world. --Trinie Dalton

Product Description

Meet the Harunos, a rather unconventional, but happy and loving family nonetheless. They live in a small town in the mountains just out of Tokyo where life is good and quiet - but that doesn't mean they don't have their own little problems.

As 8-year old Sachiko (Maya Banno) tries to get rid of a giant version of herself who seems to pop up everywhere, her older brother Hajime (Takahiro Sato), privately wrestles with his love-struck heart. Meanwhile, their mother Yoshiko (Satomi Tezuka) is working hard, coming out of retirement as an animator, as her husband and professional hypnotist Nobuo (Tomokazu Miura) watches on with slight apprehension. Yoshiko's brother, Ayano (Tadanobu Asano) is just visiting his hometown and staying with the family, but also has ashidden agenda; he needs to come to terms with a romance that ended years ago. Even Nobuo's brother and successful manga artist Todoroki has his problems. It's his birthday soon and he wants to give himself something special. And lastly there's Grandpa, the most bizarre and perhaps the most perceptive of all, who continues to search for a better way to live life to the full.

Written, directed and edited by Katsuhito ISHII, The Taste of Tea is a unique and gentle family portrait tackling the universal themes of time, people and their lives.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
50 of 50 people found the following review helpful
The Harunos are not your typical family. The father is a hypnotist, whose method is to enable people to dream alternate worlds; the mother aspires to draw anime; the grandfather is also an artist, who takes great delight in his unconventional ways; the daughter is troubled by a giant version of herself who follows her around and stares unhappily at what she does; the son, perhaps the most ordinary, is a shy but intelligent boy who has fallen in love. The film is gorgeous, full of visual surprises and laugh out loud moments. I had no idea what a nice surprise was waiting for me when I rented this on a whim; I will definitely buy this dvd since it is one that could definitely live up to repeat viewings and I can't wait to introduce it to other friends and lovers of cinema. I can't believe I'd never heard of this beautiful and charming film about family and love and obsession and work and friendship and above all, imagination. It may seem slow, since its aim is not so much to move through the paces of a story as to capture a set of lives whose worries and obsessions are vividly brought to life in their imaginations, but it is never boring. A delightful surprise, that brings the visual wonder of the best Japanese animation to the live action story of an eccentric but appealing family. Definitely one to see for anyone who like to be surprised when they watch movies.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a well made cup of tea December 17, 2007
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I bought this movie on a whim and I was very pleasantly surprised. The story and characters are quirky yet endearing on many levels - the grandfather in particular is priceless. It is a modern tale of an artistic family living in a suburb of Tokyo - very pastoral scenery, but very urban neuroses. It is an artistic rendering of everyday situations that make you want to laugh and cry. It is also a kaleidoscope of Yakuza thugs, hypnosis therapy, artistic integrity, letting go of a relationship, mixing music in a studio, surviving your in-laws, and more! It is all done with a light touch the neither judges nor tries to reduce to some trite formula.
If you enjoy art films and different cultures, this is a must see.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Love This Movie May 16, 2007
I saw this movie in the theater in New York City. It is the best movie I have seen in a long time. I was laughing until I was crying at some points, and at other moments utterly moved by the genuine sentiment and lyricism.

What a beautiful film...
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well... December 20, 2007
...all I will add is that this movie begs you to watch it over and over again. It is an absolute charmer, the type of which cannot be found in (modern) American movies. Which is a terrible shame.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Movie about "Nothing"...But There's Something! June 29, 2008
A movie about "Nothing"---but there is something. THE TASTE OF TEA is the handiwork of Katsushito Ishii, the director of the acclaimed cult hit "Party 7" and "Funky Forest: First Contact". Now, I'll go straight to the point, this film is about family, anime, a boy's young love, a young girl's journey through childhood, with very simple execution. If you're looking for a movie with a steadfast destination, then this movie may not be for you or if you want to use puns, not your cup of tea. However, this film is a grand display of Ishii's directorial skills, the man just knows how to tell a story and gets everything right.

A summer in the lives of the quirky Haruno clan, who passes the unhurried days trying to realize their ambitions. In a small town just North of Tokyo, a dedicated mother (Satomi Tezuka) attempts to revive her anime career with the aid of Grandpa who assumes the poses, her hypno-therapist hubby (Tomokazu Miura) has no choice but to back her decision and supports the family financially. Meanwhile, their eldest son (Takahiro Sato) feels the allure of teenage love and their 6 yr.-old daughter (Maya Banno) grapples with a pesky, gigantic doppelganger. Brother Asano (Tadanobu Asano) wants to be a successful sound mixer.

Remember the show "Seinfeld" that pronounces itself as a show about "nothing", well, Ishii has taken that phrase to the next level. The film's beauty is the manner on which it is structured with body languages, facial expressions and mumblings as its main vehicle in expressing its ideas. While its main premise is simple, it has the uncanny ability to say a lot without even saying a word.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tastes....refreshing! September 19, 2007
In comparison to his rough and tumble indie-feeling gangster flick, Samehada Otoko to Momoji Onna, despite having little or no plot, Ishii Katsuhito's Ocha No Aji is a more serene offering, with humour that alternates between subtle, visual, and wacky, drama, and quirky visuals. He introduces us to the Harunos, a family of five living in a nice house in the Tochigi Prefecture countryside.

The parents seem normal enough, anime artist mother Yoshiko trying to make a comeback, while her husband Nobuo is a hypnotist. The cute six-year old Sachiko is plagued by a giant double of herself that appears from time to time. Sometimes it is seen as a head popping out of the ground; other times, it gazes at her, lying on the playground looking in the classroom. One wonders if it symbolizes her fears.

The oldest child Hajime is a first year high school student who has a fear of women due to two incidents and the moving away of a classmate he wanted to confess his love to.
However, he is given a new lease on hope with the appearance of Suzuishi Aoi, a transfer student from Tokyo. His adolescent hormones are recharged, to the point that he bikes like a demon all the way back home instead of parking it near the train station like he normally does. Though low-key and shy, Hajime's my favourite character. It's simply heart-warming to see his joy when he finds a way to get closer to Aoi, by joining the go club, and when he waves at Aoi in the soaking rain--after swiftly tossing his umbrella before the bus door closes.

To say the grandpa is eccentric is like saying Bill Gates is rich.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring... boring... boring.
I love foreign movies but this is NOT it. It is soooo boring.

There are way better Japanese movies like
- The Seven Samurai became The Magnificent Seven
-... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Happy r/c
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Story
This is a charming story of a family, living outside of Tokyo, dealing with family and everyday life. Read more
Published 10 months ago by becky l brown
5.0 out of 5 stars A very beautiful, sensitive, and funny film.
I chose the movie because I grew up in Japan and speak Japanese. It is a wonderful film, very funny, and visually beautiful and exciting. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Victoria Pratt
1.0 out of 5 stars A piece of contrivance
If you want to watch a moderately clever (and somewhat self-ridiculing) movie based upon motifs taken from Japan, or the lifestyle of the Japanese, you may indulge in this. Read more
Published 11 months ago by John S. Hilliard
4.0 out of 5 stars Touching heart warming film
A very touching film with universal theme that we can all relate. There are funny moments that make you laugh, and the visualization of the characters' imagination is brilliant.
Published 16 months ago by Plato
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful film with a little of everything ~
Seems that this film has some mixed reviews, but I wanted to add my two cents. I watch a lot of foreign film, especially Japanese. This was a nice treat. Read more
Published on November 12, 2011 by Christopher Barrett
1.0 out of 5 stars Extremely Long & Boring
I love Japanese movies as much as the next guy and I had high hopes for this movie after seeing the trailer on youtube. But this movie is just straight up boring! Read more
Published on June 23, 2011 by Joe
1.0 out of 5 stars subtitle
This Japanese DVD came without subtitle. It may be a great film, I can't appreciate it. what a waste of money.
Published on June 16, 2011 by James S. Tzeng
5.0 out of 5 stars Never has simplicity felt so profound
I must say that after finishing this movie earlier today it immediately climbed my unofficial, unmade list of favorite movies ever to one of the top rankings. Read more
Published on September 21, 2010 by Josh Adams
1.0 out of 5 stars artsy with thin plot
The blurb about this film leads you to believe it is a comedy. It records snippets of experiences by various members of a rural japanese family but has very sketchy plot... Read more
Published on September 2, 2010 by bera
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Topic From this Discussion
English Subtitles
I own both editions and both have English subtitles.
But for an extra few bucks you should go for the limited because of the very nice making of.
Whichever edition you choose I hope you enjoy the film. I fell in love with it, hence the owning of both editions.
Sorry for a long answer to a simple...
Sep 16, 2010 by Paprika |  See all 2 posts
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