Sunday, January 20, 2013

I Dream of Jiro: A Movie Recommendation



Have you seen Jiro Dreams of Sushi? I watched it the other night while I was getting the baby to sleep, and it was such a lovely film. It's a documentary about an 85-year-old man in Japan, Jiro Ono, who has dedicated his life to making the perfect sushi. He has a small restaurant (just ten seats!) and it's ranked as one of the best in the world. It takes three months to get a reservation, and a meal there costs $300. He obsesses over quality ingredients, over how long his assistants massage the octopus to make it tender, over the seating arrangements of his customers.

And this is what gets me: he is so happy. He says all day, as he makes sushi, he's ecstatic. He says the way to live your life is to find something you really love doing and dedicate yourself to it. I wonder if that's so. When I first watched it, I thought he was right, and I wondered what on earth I could give myself to with that much ecstasy, but then I read this review by Roger Ebert, and Ebert asks some significant questions, I think. He asks, for example, "If you find  an occupation you love and spend your entire life working at it, is that enough?" The way he frames the question (and the rest of the review) makes the answer implicit: no. And yet, it's a lot, isn't it? If Jiro says he's ecstatic all day, making sushi, do we assume he's fooling himself? Or that he's lonely and miserable when he's not making sushi? Are there occupations we believe would fulfill us if we could manage to give our lives to them? When we manage to, are we right?

Anyway, if you get a chance, check it out. I'd love to hear what you think.

3 comments:

belann said...

Hoping to see this. We have it on order from the library.

Terry said...

We finally saw this last night, and thoroughly enjoyed it. We are fascinated by people who have found their life's passion and live it to the utmost. For Jiro, unlike sports stars and other entertainers, he could continue to perfect his art and craft into his old age. That is a gift.

These focused people, though we admire them for their certainty and accomplishments, must be a little unbalanced. Their families suffer, as his sons attested.

Most of us go through life without such focus. Balance can also be beautiful. Jiro just reminds us of the possibilities.

Deja said...

Well said, Dad. I like that idea of balance being beautiful.