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In a slight departure from the world of literature, we’d like to bring you some inspiration from the screen that provides a humbling insight into the life of a true Japanese artisan, and the shokunin kishitsu, the dedicated spirit of the craftsman, that he embodies.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi – A film by David Gelb
Cinema often depicts Japan’s devotion to craft, dedication to detail and craftspeople’s single-minded pursuit of being the best at what they do. The samurai does more than swing a sword, he is a master of his field. They drink green tea that has been offered via an elaborate tea ceremony with every move deep in meaning. It’s safe to say that Japan doesn’t just throw things together.
The acclaimed film ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’ (2012) showed the world what it was like to devote a life to the pursuit of excellence. The documentary film introduces us to one of Tokyo’s (now the world’s) most famous sushi-shokuniin, then-85–year–old Jiro Ono. Having run his own unassuming shop in the Sukiyabashi area of Tokyo, seating just 10 people at a time, the film presents the owner and his ‘morning–till–night’ attitude towards the art of his food and the dedication he expects from his apprentices.
‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’ demonstrates the single-minded devotion and shokunin kishitsu that exists in Japan, and presents Jiro as a strict but likeable character. It opened the eyes of the West not only to the culinary world of Japan but to a principle of loving what you do and waking every day with the belief that you can be better than the day before. It teaches us you can love your life’s purpose, no matter how simple. I like to think that ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’ can inspire us all to improve how we approach each day with a healthy positivity and aspiration.
It is near impossible to get a seat at his original Sukiyabashi restaurant these days, which led the Michelin Guide to recently rescind the three stars it awarded back in 2009 – the first-ever for a sushi restaurant. Japan, however, abounds in restaurants that thrive on a similar dedication to perfection.