A lonely salaryman walks around Japan during lunch time. He enters real life restaurants and you watch him eat and listens to his inner monologue.
Enter Kodoku no Gurume, translated as “The Lonely Gourmet”.
I don’t even know how to introduce this programme. It’s not documentary, it’s not really a travel show or a food programme, definitely not drama with its zero plot. Then again it’s also all of them combined.
There’s no real food styling or some guy from Kagoshima introducing their rice and history. I’m pretty sure it’s dirt cheap to shoot. No fancy guest actors. It’s just … there. And it’s a guy eating his lunch. What’s the whole point?
I’ll say it, it’s blatant food porn in its pure final form. This is not an exaggeration; this is some nasty shit. The guy goes ‘delicious, delicious’, which is the porn equivalent of 'Oh yes! Oh yes!’ You get wide angle shots, then close ups, then aerial view, then music climaxes as we get various angles of him chewing. He finishes the dish with a sigh.
The thing about Japan, when you dig through the beautiful outer layer of hype, technology, history and excitement, is that there’s a corner for everyone. Even lonely gourmets.
I mean in Australia, if you’re not married with children, with an avid interest in real estate, drinking coffee while walking your pet, right before you stop at a hardware store to fine tune your BBQ grill for the Sunday AFL roast, you’re pretty much seen as a failure in life. That’s why we’ve yet to see a widowed or orphan contestant on Masterchef. Gay or autistic, yes. But a single, isolated contestant with no friends or families to cheer him on? Yikes, no, too much, crossed the line there.
But this show is proof that not everyone is happily coupled. The world is not made up of families and happily-ever-afters. And lonely people have a totally different outtake on food, which, should be valued equally.
Why do all Melbourne restaurants assume I have friends to share my food with? Why is being sociable a pre-requisite to access good food?
I remember during my first job, my happiest day was on Wednesdays.
The only day I could afford to walk into a fancy Japanese restaurant along Toorak Road, order a katsu-don, switch off my phone, and be happy for an hour. It is extremely masturbatory, but looking back, shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of.
This show simply celebrates the little victories of being a single man in a big world.