Mastering Work Flow: Jiro Dreams Of Sushi

A while back I came across this amazing documentary of Master Sushi Chef Jiro Ono, owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a Michelin three-star restaurant. I told anyone who would listen, especially artists, that they HAD to see this mind blowing film. You may be asking yourself now “what does a sushi master and an artist (or any other profession for that matter) have in common?” The answer is deceptively simple, mastery of one’s craft through a conscious and disciplined daily practice.

Right from start of the film, Jiro issues this edict: “Once you decide upon an 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 approaches his craft in the way of “Shokunin” (meaning artisan), the Shinto belief in executing everything perfectly, every single day, over an entire lifetime. Anything can be approached in the Shokunin way, no job is considered inferior or beneath oneself. The wisdom here is obvious and applicable to anyone’s life.

I kept having to stop the movie to take notes. Here is some more advice worth remembering:

“It really comes down to making an effort & repeating everyday”

“It has to be better than the last time. That is why I am always tasting during preparation”

“Each of our vendors are specialists in their field (i.e. surround yourself with excellence and use only the best materials)”

“All I want to do is make better sushi. I improve bit by bit, day after day and progress forward. But no one knows where the top is”

“In order to make delicious food you must eat delicious food (in other words, in order to make great paintings you must see great paintings)”

“Without good taste, you cannot make good food (educate your tastes)”

“If your taste is not better than your customers how will you impress them?”


Jiro Dreams of Sushi is available on DVD through Amazon and streaming via Netflix and ITunes.

2 thoughts on “Mastering Work Flow: Jiro Dreams Of Sushi

  1. I have seen the movie but I never thought of applying his ideas to the craft of painting. Thank you for sharing your notes and your thoughts. Jiro’s advice on training the artistic sense reminds me of Annie Dillard’s description of the self-discipline of a writer: “He is careful of what he reads, for that is what he will write. He is careful of what he learns, for that is what he will know.”

    I have something further to add, and it relates to Jiro’s advice to really fall in love with one’s work. Somebody commented that Picasso has such a good memory of the forms of the world about him that “he knows them all by heart, even their irregularities, everything that makes them unique. What he has seen once, he retains forever so that at any instant all the forms of the real are at his disposition”. For me, the key words are: “he know them all by heart”. In other words, Picasso loved visual forms so much he loved them all.

    1. @Romero- thank you for your thoughtful comments. They are definitely an enhancement on my notes and my understanding of the movie. I firmly believe that the secrets to mastery of one’s craft are universal and exist in many other disciplines and so I am always seeking them. A wise artist should mine for material in areas adjacent to their field, similar to cross pollination or cross training. I’m glad this post resonated with you. Your thoughts on Annie Dillard and Picasso’s knowledge of form are little gems. Thanks again.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s