All credit is due to my Japanophile friend Caryn for introducing me to Japanese Style Originator, a 2008 TV show produced by TV Osaka and available—with subtitles—on Netflix. The show is set up as a game show with a panel of celebrities who alternately guess answers to trivia questions and judge competitions, but its heart is more documentary than game show.
Each episode focuses on some type of Japanese craftsmanship: building temple statues, gardening, tea blending. Half seem to focus on food, from sushi to miso to tempura to rice. It’s an artisan showcase, exploring traditional methods of cooking and sourcing ingredients. It’s also a gold mine of trivia that you’ll instantly want to share with your fellow food-obsessed friends. For example, did you know tempura restaurants often don’t play background music, because they want you to focus on the sound of the sizzling oil?
Some of the finer points of the processes must get lost in the subtitled translation, but it’s still a soothing, enjoyable add to your Netflix queue.