LADING

jiro dreams of sushi

It so happens that, from time to time, I miss Japan. And all its wonders and differences and quirky things. And I browse photos, or Pinterest boards or listen to a Japanese radio from which I (now) understand close to nothing. Last night, I watched Jiro dreams of sushi.

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Being a chef at your own little place in Japan and running a coffee shop in Bucharest are as similar, as they are different. It seems that apprentices in Japan can have cold feet and disappear from the job without notice, just like ours do. On the other hand, feeling obliged to take over your father’s business (after learning by his side for more than 30 years) sounds a very Japanese thing to do.

I jotted down some business lessons for myself: always select the best suppliers, tools, ingredients. Treat your customers the same, but different in the same time. Teach for free. But the reasons why I was left impressed by this documentary are of a different nature.

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Jiro is an 87 years old (85 at the time of the shooting) sushi chef from Japan. The best, they say. A three Michelin star chef. He says he never hated his job, not once. It’s spectacular.

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.

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He doesn’t talk about happiness or joy, he talks about mastering one’s craft and being honorable in one’s profession. Yet, he still dreams of making his sushi better.

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 work. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success and the key to being regarded honorably.

All I want to do is make better sushi. 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.

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It might sound strange for an 87 years old man not to want to retire, to keep coming back to his workplace day after day. Some might say life isn’t all about work (and I am the first to agree). But I do think that life is about doing what makes you happy. And Jirosan sure seemed content.

For your information, Jiro runs a 10-seat sushi bar in a subway station in Tokyo. It was awarded three Michelin stars and you should book a table with at least one month in advance (by the time I write these lines, September is fully booked). A 20-piece sushi menu starts at 30,000 yen (approx. 300 dollars).

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Note to self: book a table to Jiro’s if you ever go to Tokyo again.

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