Sweet Bean

Sweet Bean

Naomi Kawase (2015)

PG Certificate


Our Score
Adapted from a novel by Durian Sukegawa, this is Naomi Kawase's most accessible film to date, the touching tale of an old woman who transforms the fortunes of a street vendor of "dorayaki" (small pancakes filled with sweet bean paste). But beneath that lies a complex study of Japanese culture, revealing attitudes to social stigma and where chauvinism stifles compassion. Deeply in debt after a calamitous bar brawl, Masatoshi Nagase struggles to make a living, but 76-year-old Kirin Kiki persuades him to hire her with a recipe for sweet bean filling that makes his pancakes irresistible. However, Kiki disappears when schoolgirl customer Kyara Uchida (who is Kiki's real-life granddaughter) makes a shocking discovery about her past. Kawase has a fascination with humanity's relationship to nature, reflected in imagery that initially lingers on cherry blossom and bubbling ingredients. But the pace and the colour palate change as the focus shifts to social critique over human drama. Nevertheless, this delicately played picture remains poignant and astute.


A pancake stall manager is confronted with an odd but sympathetic elderly woman looking for work. Before long she changes his life. Drama, starring Kirin Kiki, Masatoshi Nagase and Kyara Uchida. In Japanese.

Cast & Crew

Tokue Kirin Kiki
Sentaro Masatoshi Nagase
Wakana Kyara Uchida
dorayaki shop owner Miyoko Asada
Yoshiko Etsuko Ichihara
Director Naomi Kawase
see more

Other Information

Language: Japanese +subtitlesColourTheatrical distributor: Eureka EntertainmentAvailable on: DVD and Blu-rayReleased on: 5 Aug 2016