The Binge List: Japan

THE BINGE LIST: JAPAN

Tokyo, Japan

In this episode we’re heading to a place where cherry blossoms get wedged in sumo wrestler's fat rolls...

Konnichiwa, Japan.

You can’t take part in a tea ceremony or hike Mount Fuji with your pals right now. But you can devour our pick of a film, book, podcast, TV show, and song like it’s a sushi roll.

The Film

Kubo and the Two Strings

Has anyone ever not wept at the beauty of a Japanese animated film?

Laika is the big dog stop-motion studio behind Coraline and Kubo and the Two Strings. Praise be.

Kubo tells the story of a young boy who grows up in a mythical village in ancient Japan. When he accidentally summons a vengeful spirit that threatens his mum (too far, spirit) he has to go on the run.

He meets a magical beetle voiced by Matthew McConaughey. Genius. And a snow monkey voiced by Charlize Theron.

These intricate puppets take four (!) months to make. Adorable fun fact? The costumes are fitted with teensy tiny weights to give them a ‘real sense of gravity.’

IT’S ART, PEOPLE. Turn off Loose Women and get obsessed.

The Book

Killing Commendatore

An underworld haunted by Double Metaphors, a Nazi assassination attempt, a bell that won’t stop ringing, and a physical manifestation of an Idea…

Just when you thought the world couldn't get any weirder. Enter Haruki Murakami.

This guy has the sort of cray cray imagination that would scare off a careers advisor. His novel, Killing Commendatore is an absolute trip. A thirty-odd-year-old painter in Tokyo has just left his home to hole up in the mountains.

He finds a hidden painting in the attic (Dorian Gray, that you?) From here things get dark. And deep. And metaphorical...

Fun for all the fam.

The Podcast

Uncanny Japan

Japanese folklore is having a moment.

Artists have been posting pictures of the Amabie all over their social channels. Why? It's a duck-billed mermaid which legend says can ward of epidemics...

At this point, we’ll try anything.

In the Uncanny Japan podcast, Theresa Matsuura uncovers parts of Japanese culture that are usually invisible to visitors. She goes deep on the superstitions and scary stories - The Ghost of Oiwa episode is a goodie.

The Series

Midnight Diner

Midnight Diner makes Masterchef look like the work of a child.

The whole world is obsessed with cooking shows but Japan is just better at it. This is a Netflix series about a tiny fictional 12-seater restaurant that opens from 12 pm to 7am.

The owner is Japan’s answer to John Wayne. Moody silent vibes are strong with this one. He murmurs when he does speak and has a scar. Manly. The rules are, he’ll cook whatever you want as long as you bring your own ingredients, and fights have to be taken outside.

Seems reasonable.

Each episode you find out the backstory of a different customer. There’s the actor turned cab driver, the scientist, and the veteran porn star.

The Song

Extremely Bad Man by Shintaro Sakamoto

It might be the sake talking…

But the middle of this track definitely sounds like perfectly harmonising chipmunks. And we’re here for it.

Japanese psychedelic rock? It’s a Sunday morning seventh coffee in your pjs kinda mood.

This one’s a keeper - hit the Lucky button then save this trip for a happier time 💚