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Jiro Dreams of Sushi
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Jiro Dreams of Sushi is the story of 85-year-old Jiro Ono, considered by many to be the world's greatest sushi chef. He is the proprietor of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a 10-seat, sushi-only restaurant inauspiciously located in a Tokyo subway station. Despite its humble appearances, it is the first restaurant of its kind to be awarded a prestigious three-star Michelin Guide rating, and sushi lovers from around the globe make repeated pilgrimage, calling months in advance and shelling out top dollar for a coveted seat at Jiro's sushi bar.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a thoughtful and elegant meditation on work, family, and the art of perfection, chronicling Jiro's life as both an unparalleled success in the culinary world and as a loving yet complicated father.
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Shokunin is often translated as "Artisan" or "Craftsman". Which while not incorrect, is certainly incomplete.
A shokunin may at first glance seem like a workaholic. And perhaps some workaholics are actually shokunin, but not being Japanese, do not have the privilege to be named as one. (Interestingly, the Japanese also have a term "Karoshi" which means "death from overwork".)
But a shokunin is more than just a workaholic. It is not simply work, it is art, it is a calling, it is the pursuit of perfection, it is the continuous journey to understanding, achievement, and fulfilment of the full potential and purpose of the work.
One Japanese suggested that the shokunin pursues his craft for the benefit of society. His view may be culturally biased. Another (non-Japanese) disagreed and suggested that the shokunin is centred on his achievement, his skills, his development, and his attainment of perfection. This is a rather idio-centric view and explanation of a shokunin's mindset.
My view is that a shokunin is not simply a workaholic. A workaholic (like an alcoholic or any other kind of addict) is either compensating for some defect or lack in his/her life, escaping from life, or both. A shokunin is attempting to achieve perfection. Not for others. Not for himself. But perfection is its own goal.
"Jiro Dreams of Sushi" is about one man's pursuit of perfection in sushi. It is both a very narrow focus, and an impossible subject for a movie, but succeeds anyway.
The movie is about a Grand Master Craftsman and his astronomical passion for absolute excellence. In a world where people live paycheck to paycheck working a job that they hate, and not enjoying life just to make it month to month and pay the bills. This documentary displays how one man with his passion for sushi made it his life mission to live out his dream which is to make the most amazing, delicious, and perfectly crafted sushi in the world! Jiro Ono is not only an inspiration to all of us seeking purpose in life. But he also demonstrates that there is something more important than money, wealth, and fame... And that is to live your dreams, to pursue them. Find that which you love to do, and do it, everyday! Life is too short to focus on things that time will erode away. This documentary should be a part of social science curriculum in every school...
He meticulously oversees the discipline and very subtily improvises the proven methods. He takes apprentices on for the long term and forms them. His sons were his apprentices and, in a very real sense, they still are. He has earned their respect, the accolades of the industry, having earned the coveted Michelin 3, and admiration of his suppliers, who themselves are persons at the top of their crafts.
His ten-seat restaurant commands the highest price per plate and reservations booked months in advance. Courses are prepared and served with each customer in mind, each person being observed by the master himself for the manner in which courses are presented. One food reviewer, who has eaten at Jiro's restaurant several times over several years, said that he has not ever had a disappointing experience there. Amazing. I want to go there.
This documentary is a thrill.
This is a masterfully crafted documentary of the life of one man and his craft. I believe it will be enjoyed thoroughly by anyone interested in watching the attributes of discipline and hard work pay off.
This movie is also beautifully filmed, with a superb soundtrack of classical music that helps to enhance the whole experience; much like the subtlest of sauces masterfully brings out the umami in a simple piece of tuna sushi.