Mmmm, it makes my mouth water just thinking about it. The rich, deep flavors of fresh fish, with perfectly cooked rice, soy sauce and a spicy wasabi. Sashimi, Hand Rolls, Cut Rolls, Tuna, Halibut, Eel, Yellowtail, Shrimp, and on and on. The dishes are as varied as the average sushi eater. Since making way to North America and Europe, sushi is now loved all over the world. I have to admit, I was one of the ones who turned my nose up at it, but no more. I’m a sushi lover, indeed. Lunch anyone?
Whether or not you enjoy sushi (if you don’t like it, you just haven’t been to the right place), I watched a moving documentary about the Master of Sushi, Jiro Ono, an 85-year-old passionate man who has devoted his life to the art of making the best sushi in the world. In Jiro Dreams of Sushi, we meet Jiro and his two sons in a small 10-person restaurant located in the underground subway station of Tokyo, Japan. While I can go on and on about his beautiful, delicious-looking creations, I fell in awe of the man. Sure, I was taken aback by his creations and the praise and accolades that followed (he has one of the few 3 star Michelin Rated restaurants in the world), but I was forced to appreciate him as the creative genius, the creator behind such works of art.
There are many truths that I can extract from Jiro, but these 4 are the most important to take away:
1. Jiro stayed committed to his craft. Jiro started out like anyone of us – an amateur, a beginner, a rookie, a child. Research indicates that it takes 10,000 hours (equivalent to 10 years) to become a master at something. Jiro has far surpassed that number, but he had to stay committed to his work in order to become so great at what he does.
2. Jiro still strives for excellence. As the documentary attests, working for Jiro is no easy task. The apprentices that follow his training must be devoted 100% to the job. Jiro allows no excuses for poor work. It’s this dedication to excellence that drives customers from all over the world into a tiny 10-person restaurant where the minimum is $375/person – and the meal lasts about 20 minutes. But to the sushi lovers, its all worth it.
3. Jiro prides himself on the simplicity of his great work. It’s not about creating a flashy website to showcase his designs, sending out facebook messages to all his family and friends and presenting plates full of sushi covered with sauces and oils galore. No, its about creating one thing and creating it well. The bells and whistles are an insult if you have taken the time to create a work of true art.
4. Jiro makes no apologies for who he is and the choice that he made for his life. 85-years later, he is not sitting at home wishing that he had made another life choice, went into a different career, or opened a larger restaurant in the heart of the city. He made a plenty of statements throughout the documentary that show to his passion and love for his work. He said that after all this time, there is not one day that he hated his job or disliked reporting for work. It’s known that Jiro never misses a day, it would be like neglecting the love of his life.
While there are certain aspects of Jiro’s work mentality that we may not agree with, I think we all could learn a thing or two from him. May we all be more committed; strive for greater excellence; create simple, beautiful works of art; and make no apologies for who we are in a world that only wants us to conform.
Watch the movie and grab some sushi – it’ll make it that much better!