Sunday, 26 April 2015


Once you decide on your occupation, says Jiro, 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 honourably.

I had never heard of this movie/documentary nor the concept of a shokunin. From this movie you get the outer clothing of the idea of a shokunin, but you have to watch it carefully, to understand the spirit of it. Someone who keeps at something for years on end, for decades in fact to master a craft, never quite getting there, even if they have become world-acclaimed because as Jiro says in the movie: "I'll continue to climb, trying to reach the top, but no one knows where the top is."

Watching Jiro handle each sushi as gently as if it was a baby, and how he brushed the sauce over the top, gave me pause. How did I approach my job? With my clouded mind and my to-do list and my good enough is good enough and my last minute to be as serene as Jiro, how to love my work and keep trying to improve on it, without all the extraneous considerations. How to perfect a story so it rings clear like a bell. And beginning now, it would take me years and years before I could even be regarded as a shokunin. And I would need a master to confer me with the title.

But it's not about titles or Michelin stars. It's about perfecting yourself day after day, hour after hour, always ensuring that you keep doing something a little bit better each time, not settling for second-rate materials.

Here is a transcript of what Jiro says in this clip:

Shokunin try to get the highest quality fish and apply their technique to it. We don't care about money. All I want to do is make better sushi. I do the same thing over and over, improving it 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. Even at my age, after decades of work, I don't think I have achieved perfection. But I feel ecstatic all day. I love making sushi. That's the spirit of the shokunin. When to quit? the job that you've worked so hard for? I've never once hated this job. I fell in love with my work and gave my life to it. Even though I'm 85 years old I don't feel like retiring. That's how I feel.


If you can, watch the movie.

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