“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 your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success… and is the key to being regarded honorably. — Jiro Ono”
At first glance, the only thing more unassuming than Jiro Ono is his tiny ten-seat restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro. Nestled in the very sterile lower level of a Tokyo office building, his quiet demeanor is perfectly suited to the tranquil environment inside. A modest establishment on the surface, however, masks the reality of what you’ll find underneath. A Michelin 3-Star rating, the first for a restaurant who specializes in sushi, and an artist and perfectionist who defines passion for their craft like you have never seen.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a visually beautiful and spiritually inspirational 2011 Documentary from David Gelb that tells the story of Ono, his Sons, his restaurant and a never-ending quest for perfection that they all pursue. As the title implies, Jiro Ono literally dreams of his art. He is on a constant journey. As he says in the film, “I do the same thing over and over, improving bit by bit. There is always a yearning to achieve more. I’ll continue to climb, trying to reach the top, but no one knows where the top is.”
Though Jiro’s drive and dedication spoke poignantly to me, the real charm of this story comes in the story of his sons. His younger son, Takashi, runs the restaurants only other location – a Michelin 2-Star rated version in the upscale Tokyo neighborhood of Roppongi Hills. However, it’s the story of his eldest son, Yoshikazu, that felt so compelling.
Yoshikazu, at 50 years old, runs the operation at Sukiyabashi Jiro which is booked three months in advance with a single dining experience costing $400-$600 (US). It’s Yoshikazu’s story that becomes the most compelling narrative in Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Even at 50 years old and having dedicated his life to learning at his father’s side, would he ever be worthy of taking the reins from Jiro. He says at one point, “Jiro’s ghost will always be there, watching.” As Gelb unwraps the story of this amazing family, you can’t help but be spellbound by their passion and find yourself rooting for Yoshikazu as the filmmaker slowly starts to answer some of the questions about the future.
We talk so often about finding what it is life that we’re truly passionate about. We talk about chasing dreams and finding that things that we’re meant to do. That requires work. That requires dedication. As one of the dealers at the fish market in the film says, “…the first thing people want is an easy job. Then, they want lots of free time. And then, they want lots of money. But they aren’t thinking of building their skills.”
It’s not as easy as just figuring out what you’d love to do. It’s about pursuing it with a deep and powerful passion. It’s about chasing perfection in your craft over success.
“In dreams, I have grand visions of sushi.”
Jiro Ono is where he is because Jiro literally dreams of sushi.
What do you dream about?
Jiro Dreams of Sushi is available on Netflix instant watch or for purchase at Amazon.com