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#FindingAloha | Movie: Sweet Bean

I recently watched a Japanese film called Sweet Bean in what the Hollywood Reporter calls an "ode to the simple joys in life."

A film by Naomi Kawase follows a seemingly troubled owner, Sentaro, of a dorayaki shop. Dorayaki, a Japanese treat consisting of two pancakes that sandwich a scoop of adzuki beans - a sweet red bean paste. In Hawaiʻi we're familiar with the adzuki beans, often attributed to desserts. If you're from Maui, you could have had your Guri Guri with adzuki beans!

While watching the film, you never understand the look of anger in the proprietor's eyes until later in the movie. A meager older Japanese woman, Tokue, stops by the shop and convinces Sentaro to let her work there. She tells him, "I've been making 'an' for 50 years." An is another name of the adzuki bean confection.

Tokue teaches Sentaro how to make the an. I was immediately taken back to my childhood. While making vinha d'alhos or laulau, I always had that experience of an elder looking over my shoulder. As much as I was never crazy about the extremely watchful eyes, I can cook those dishes with ease because of that type of supervision.

The movie also examines some of Tokue's challenges in dealing with leprosy. Sentaro, for once, shows some compassion which leads to his own review of his stern nature. Compassion and empathy is aloha.

I found both Sentaro, played by Masatoshi Nagase and Tokue, portrayed by Kirin Kiki, were experts at their craft. The cinematography is equally capitvating.

Why did I find aloha in this piece? Simple. Teaching the next generation, imparting wisdom, traditions and to an extent, recipes, is what the base of the word is all about.

Aloha is everywhere, in foreign places and different faces. I'll continue finding aloha.

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