Based on an essay by Tsutomu Mizukami, director Yuji Nakae presents a modest film of gratitude and zen revolving around the art of simple cooking. Starring Kenji Sawada in the lead, his first starring role in 16 years.
Former Zen monk Tsutomu lives alone in the mountains, writing essays, cooking food with vegetables he grows and shoots, sprouts, and mushrooms he picks in the hills. His routine is happily disturbed when Machiko, his editor/love interest, occasionally visits. She loves to eat and he loves to cook for her. Tsutomu seems content with his daily life. On the other hand, he still hasn’t let go of his wife’s ashes, though she died 13 years ago. When Tsutomu’s mother-in-law suddenly passes, it sets in motion a reviewing of life and its meaning.
Depicting the changing seasons in beautiful mountainous rural Japan, THE ZEN DIARY features rich cuisine made from seasonal produce in the style of Zen cooking, inspiring many of the meals that are foundational to Japanese cooking.