Monday, December 30, 2019

Sushi and a Philosophy of Craft

Saw Jiro Dreams of Sushi last night, amazing food porn that was filled with thoughts about how we learn and master a craft, apprenticeship, and how to sustain what is a lifelong journey. The clip below kind of laid that all out in the kind brutally honest wisdom only a true master could pass on.

One of the terms often referred to is "shokunin" a term that loosely translates to "artisan" but means so much more. The Kyoto Journal has an interesting article, "Shokunin and Devotion" that is definitely worth reading. As the master woodworker Tasio Odate said:

The Japanese word shokunin is defined by both Japanese and Japanese-English dictionaries as "craftsman’ or ‘artisan," but such a literal description does not fully express the deeper meaning. The Japanese apprentice is taught that shokunin means not only having technical skills, but also implies an attitude and social consciousness. … The shokunin has a social obligation to work his/her best for the general welfare of the people. This obligation is both spiritual and material, in that no matter what it is, the shokunin’s responsibility is to fulfill the requirement.

There is an interesting post about Odate here.

In the clip below Jiro Ono lays his philosophy out: Once you decide on your occupation, you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about our job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That's the secret of success and is the key to being regarded honorably.

In a word, fantastic, sobering, inspiring, ... You'll also be extremely hungry during and after, and unless very lucky, highly unlikely to ever experience, especially since reservations must be made at least a year in advance...

The film is available on Hulu and Netflix, as well as YouTube.

Definitely worth watching!


  1. It is a great movie! This year, Jiro's sushi lost its three Michelin star status, since it is impossible for anyone to get a reservation, and Michelin only reviews restaurants that are open to the public. However, you can eat at Jiro's son's restaurant in NYC, Sushi Nakazawa,( ) which was excellent IMHO, though I suspect not up to Jiro's standards.

    1. And the other brother presumably still has his own place in Tokyo, leaving Jiro along with his apprentices. Miriam Schaer recommended "East Side Sushi" that we watched last night. Different film and story, but damn I'm hungry! Happy New Decade!