Umihara Kawase: The True Story?


The world of Umihara Kawase is an odd, surreal environment. You play as the heroine, Kawase, fighting aquatic foes in a flooded world. But why?

The popular interpretation is that it is a world that is built in Kawase’s imagination: the aquatic foes relating to the game’s setting in which our heroine is a chef, on a quest to discover the ultimate ingredient.

But there is another rumor floating around the sea of the internet about our fishing line wielding heroine. One that is much darker and tinged with sadness.

This story begins with Kawase’s parents. Her father is a travelling chef, who wanders about Japan honing his skills. Her mother works in a restaurant on the outskirts of a Japanese town. By chance, they meet, fall in love, married, and had two children.

Her father settles down in his new life. But after a few years, the call of his life’s dream, travelling the land and becoming a world class chef, was too much for him to ignore. He divorces his wife, and cuts all ties with his previous life, with the exception of Kawase, only a year old, who he takes with him. Leaving his other daughter, Kawase’s older sister, which she knows nothing about, to live with their mother.

Raised by her father on the road, Kawase is taught the ways of the chef. But before long, disaster struck. While taking a trip up into the mountains, searching for the “Ultimate Ingredient” her father disappears. The police searched, but their work is in vain. Kawase’s father was declared dead.

At the time, they were boarding at a small restaurant owned by a husband and wife. They hold a small funeral for Kawase’s father, and she ends up staying with them until she graduates Junior High. At this point in her life, she decides that her life goal was to become a chef, following in her father’s footsteps.

Back at her mother’s restaurant, Kawase’s older sister has made a similar decision. She too would become a chef, and was working in her mother’s restaurant to help make that dream a reality. But one day, while her mother is out, a customer tells her that a true fish has to be able to prepare fugu liver. This is a dangerous dish to attempt, as the blowfish contains deadly tetrodotoxin.

Nevertheless, she attempts it untrained. After trying the dish, she passes away from the poison.

Years pass, and Kawase travels, learning her trade as she does. While in a small town looking for the next place to further her skills, she stops at a modest Japanese diner. Ordering an average set meal, she is shocked at how delicious the food is.

She realizes that she has much to learn before even attempting such food, and tries to leave, but the owner stops her and invites her to stay.

She spends many happy days there. Learning to cook. Learning about the death of the owner’s daughter. And then, while in the market, she learns something surprising. The owner of the shop she is working at, is her real mother and the young girl that died trying to make fugu liver was her older sister.

Knowing her father, and her sister as well, lost their lives chasing the dream of becoming a master chef, she realizes that she has fallen into the same trap her father did many years ago. She must leave the security of her mother’s diner and begin her training anew.

As she leaves, her mother makes her a rice ball as “My first and last gift as your mother”, but Kawase refuses, saying that her journey will be harsh and that she needs to start now.

She walks away, on the road to becoming a chef, seeking the “Ultimate Ingredient”.

But is this story true? Could this be the real origin of Kawase’s journey?

The game, with its high difficulty and focus on improving technique rather than fast reflexes, represents the spiritual side of Japanese cooking, reflecting Kawase’s harsh journey where she battles to improve both herself and her skills as a chef.

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