Of course, you always want what you don’t have, but I think I would have loved to have inherited a line of work from my parents and so I’m fascinated by family businesses. And I love sushi and have missed it an awful lot during the last nine months, so I really enjoyed Jiro Dreams of Sushi. It’s the story of Jiro Ono, the 85-year-old proprietor of Sukiyibashi, a 3 Michelin star restaurant in a Tokyo subway station. I loved learning more about all the intricacies that go into making fine sushi, like did you know that octopus needs to be “washed” for hours in wooden barrels to make it tender?
Jiro has two sons who feature prominently in the documentary. The youngest now has his own sushi restaurant, while the plan is for Jiro’s eldest son, who is now in his mid-sixties, to one day succeed his father, obviously very late in his life. It doesn’t seem like life outside of sushi was ever a real possibility for either son, nor does it seem like it’s easy to follow in their father’s footsteps, seeing as he’s considered by many to be the finest living sushi maker in the world. Sadly, we don’t see or hear about any grandsons likely to continue the operation once he’s gone.
The film also explores the Japanese concept of Shokunin. “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.” – Tasio Odate
To Jiro, making a perfect piece of sushi is an honorable act that comes from a lifetime comitment. At one point he says, “Once you commit to a career, you must commit yourself fully–and work toward improving your skills for the rest of your life.” Would we all be so lucky to find such meaning in our daily work.
You can rent the film here.