I watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi on Jonathan Blow‘s recommendation, he calls it an example of “Deep Work.” Jiro Ono makes sushi, and has been doing it for 75 years. Jiro has seemingly limitless passion and commitment to the craft of sushi. He is on a literal life long journey exploring, reaching, testing and experimenting with all elements of what great, perfect sushi IS. He pursues this perfection of sushi knowing it is bigger, greater and blindingly impossible to contain. Jiro is not an emotional man, he seems serious almost always, but you find his passion in the film through the juxtaposition to his son, Yoshikazu. Yoshikazu is obeying the Japanese tradition of flowing his father’s footsteps, carrying forward the mantle of the family, being a dutiful son (I believe the word in Japanese is oyakoukou). Several times in the film, Jiro says he is “in love with work.” Yoshikazu does not even hint at such things, he’s seem empty of passion for sushi, and full of a deep sense of respect for tradition and duty to make his father proud.
In the film, the Japanese term Shokunin comes up several times as a way to capture the essence of Jiro. This seems to mean master craftsman and life worker. Googling the term turned up this article talking about the film, Shokunin Kishitsu & The five elements of true mastery, which does a good job of capturing the five elements food critic Masuhiro Yamamoto describes in the film which make Jiro a true master at his art:
A true master:
- is serious about the art.
- always aspires to improve oneself and one’s work.
- works in a clean, fresh and organized space.
- is stubborn, obstinate, impatient and individualistic in his pursuit of excellence.
- is passion and enthusiasm.
look ahead and above yourself.
to improve on yourself.
Always strive to elevate your craft. – Jiro Ono