It's no surprise that the Japanese get serious about eating and drinking come late spring, as yatai food carts roll out, a bevy of fresh vegetables appear on restaurant menus and the annual festival season begins to heat up. This year is no different, with offerings that include a fried-chicken collaboration, a sweet cherry promotion and a celluloid tribute to a pop-culture food phenomenon.

Screen sensation

The breakout success of Tanita Corporation's in-house dining program — which began when dieticians at the Tokyo-based scale manufacturer ignited a nationwide craze by devising a cafeteria menu devoted to healthy eating — has many elements of a Hollywood success story. Now the tale has been given the big-screen treatment in the form of "Taishibokei Tanita no Shain Shokudo (Recipes of Diet Diaries)," a feature film opening nationwide today. Popular model-actress Yuka stars as a crusading nutritionist who encourages her pudgy colleagues to hop on the low-calorie bandwagon, while plus-size musician Kenta Hamano plays the skeptical vice president who "earned" his job by being the son of the company's president.