Jiro Dreams of Sushi isn’t really a documentary about sushi. It’s a documentary about pursuing your passion. Jiro’s passion just happens to be sushi.
Watching the film, I couldn’t help but note striking similarities between Jiro’s approach to his craft, and Steven Pressfield’s concept of the professional mindset in “The War of Art“.
I’ve often discouraged myself from creating personal art projects with the defeatist attitude of “what’s the point?”. There really is no “point” to sushi. Why does Jiro care so much? What drives him? It’s not money or fame. It’s the relentless pursuit of perfecting his craft, or as he words it, his chosen profession. By honing his craft, he not only brings joy to his patrons who rave about his sushi, but he surrounds himself with like-minded experts that he works with — the seafood merchants, the rice merchant. Jiro’s sushi is so good, his rice guy will only sell his best rice to Jiro because “what’s the point of selling good rice to someone who doesn’t know how to cook it?”. Yes, rice.
These guys (Jiro is quick to point out that he can do none of what he does without his restaurant staff and his expert suppliers) have gone beyond the aim of making money or running a successful business. They want to perfect their craft, their chosen profession. Recognition and money have become secondary to them, and thus come easily because of this focused pursuit on their respective crafts.
An analogy is made of Jiro as a conductor of a symphony, with his kitchen staff as the orchestra. The film does an excellent job of presenting Jiro as an artist whose medium happens to be food. The scene where he discusses with his staff the optimal placement of the patrons (his sushi bar sits 10 people only), and a later scene where he reveals portion and seating choices to a group of patrons reveals how far beyond the food Jiro has gone to develop an entire experience at his restaurant, only part of which is the food itself.
With wonderful cinematography and editing, “Jiro” is not only a pleasure to watch, but Jiro himself is an inspiration. Master chef, samurai, Zen master, craftsman and artist. A must see for any creative type or anyone with a skill they are working to perfect, and highly recommended to everyone else.