15 March 2008

拝啓、父上様 Haikei Chichiue-sama

Title: 拝啓、父上様 Haikei, Chichiue-sama
English Title: Dear Father
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Year: 2007
Episode: 11
  • 二宮和也 Ninomiya Kazunari
  • 高島礼子 Takashima Reiko
  • 黒木メイサ Kuroki Meisa 
  • 梅宮辰夫 Umemiya Tatsuo
  • 高橋克実 Takahashi Katsumi
  • 岸本加世子 Kishimoto Kayoko
  • 八千草薫 Yachigusa Kaoru
  • 横山裕 Yokoyama Yū
  • 福田沙紀 Fukuda Saki
  • 森上千絵 Murakami Chie
  • 高橋史子 Takahashi Fumiko
  • 黒瀬友美 Kurose Tomomi
  • 森囿麻衣子 Morizono Maiko
  • 木村多江 Kimura Tae
  • 池津祥子 Ikezu Shoko
  • 久保隆徳 Kubo Takanori
  • 奥田瑛二 Okuda Eiji
  • 松重豊 Matsushige Yutaka
  • 河原さぶ Kawahara Sabu

森山良子 Moriyama Ryoko - Papier
Tawara Ippei does not know who his father is and his mother refuses to tell him. Because he wants to form a relationship with his father although he doesn't know him, Ippei writes letters addressed to his father telling him about his life, his love interest, his work responsibilities and the close-knit community he belongs to.

Ippei works in a prestigious ryotei or a traditional Japanese restaurant as an apprentice cook. The restaurant is located in Kagurazaka, an old town in Tokyo city seeped with history and Japanese culture. Both the restaurant and the town are struggling to maintain its traditions and culture in the modern world.

Haikei Chichiue-sama presents the difficulty of traditional Japanese culture surviving in the modern times. It is such a pleasure to watch with its beautiful locations, amazing cinematography, and compelling music.

The drama is seen through the eyes of Tawara Ippei, a young assistant chef in a Japanese restaurant. Although he doesn't know who his father is, he decided to write letters addressed to his father about everything that happens in his life. One of his friends told him it might help him figure things out, or at the very least make him feel refreshed.

I feel really bad for Ippei because he doesn't know his father. I know his mother has the right to keep things private if she wishes to do so. But at the same time, Ippei has the right to know who is father is. I think it's very frustrating for him not to know the identity of his father especially since his mother can tell him and just refuses to do so.

It's even worse that his mother gives him misleading information about his father. So he ends up on a wild goose chase in his effort to determine who his real father is. In the end, he still does not know who his father is.

Anyway, the focus of the drama is actually about the struggles of the restaurant where Ippei works to stay in operation. Traditional Japanese restaurants need a lot of capital to stay open in the modern times but the revenues are barely enough to keep the restaurants in operation.

I'm sure most people would want to visit traditional Japanese restaurants but because these places are very exclusive and by invitation only, not a lot of people would be able to do so. Even if the majority of people can actually go to these restaurants, not a lot of people would be able to visit on a regular basis simply because meals at these places are very expensive.

This drama tackles serious issues, with no direct right or wrong solutions, but it is not entirely a serious drama. There are several scenes wherein you will laugh out loud due to the antics of the characters.

The proprietress of the restaurant, Sakashita Yumeko, runs away and hides in Tawara Yukino's house, Ippei's mother. The proprietress asks Ippei to get cash from her room and Ippei has no choice but to comply to the request. Ippei gets the cash but suddenly gets caught by Yumeko's family. 

Okay, the scene I talked about does not seem funny on paper but believe me that the execution was really funny. I attribute it to the great acting of the cast.

For those interested, other dramas that showcase traditional Japanese culture would be あんどーなつ Ando Natsu and おせん Osen.

拝啓、父上様 Haikei, Chichiue-sama