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Jiro's Dream (karrisaarinen.com)
92 points by enra on Sept 2, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 36 comments

I watched this movie on a flight home recently and loved it. Loved the man, loved that he found a calling and stuck to it, loved that he never changed a thing and won worldwide acclaim because of it.

Then I got home and read Ebert's review. This paragraph hit me like a punch to the stomach and put it all in perspective:

"Even at the high prices of his premium fresh ingredients, you realize he must be a rich man. But to what end? The existence of his sons are an indication that he has a wife, although we never see her. He must have a home, although we never visit it. There must be hours when he cannot be at work, but the film indicates no amusements, hobbies or pastimes. The idea of his courtship of his wife fascinates me: Forgive me, but I imagine that even while making love, he must be fretting about the loss of valuable sushi-making time."


Have a great care in how you attempt to cast Japanese priorities into your western morals. Devotion to work is devotion to family. Selflessness is expressed via success, not conspicuous gratification. Joy is found in greatness, not triviality or distraction. Speaking of oneself in terms of happiness is very different that speaking on fulfilment.

I would actually urge any westerner to go study a semester or two of Japanese language (not culture), purely for the calm insight it can provide into the alternatives to our way of seeing, understanding, and acting upon the world.

> I would actually urge any westerner to go study a semester or two of Japanese language (not culture), purely for the calm insight it can provide into the alternatives to our way of seeing, understanding, and acting upon the world.

I have to agree with this. The first foreign language I studied was French, and it taught me almost nothing - everything was so similar to English that most things were just a matter of memorization and one-to-one conversion. I quickly lost interest.

But Japanese has been entirely different. When you speak in Japanese, the way you think is different from when you speak in a Western language, such as English. The culture is inextricably tied to the language, and if you learn the language and then get a chance to actually visit the country and use it in real-life situations, it all clicks - why the language is structured how it is, and how it shapes all of Japanese society into its unique form.

They agreed to leave his private life out of the film (http://hollywoodonthepotomac.blogspot.com/2012/03/like-jiro-...).

Also, I would rewatch the last few seconds of the film re: is he happy. Just because the man's relaxation time is not part of the film doesn't mean he doesn't have any, and it certainly doesn't mean he's not happy.

Ebert's comments were a surprise? One of the major themes of the movie is the incredible cost of perfection/mastery. Everyone wants to be the best at something, but so very few are willing to give everything to perfect their craft.

They were a surprise because I got suckered in by the direction of the filmmakers.

Here's Jiro. Jiro is successful, and let's explore what he does. It's so freaking simple when you look at it, right? He practices and practices. He's meticulous, he's a perfectionist. And wow, look at those Michelin stars. And look at how people line up months in advance to eat at his restaurant.

I was so dazzled by the simplicity and success of Jiro that I totally forgot there could be any cost to this. And the filmakers never took us there. Like Ebert points out, we never got to meet his wife. And what other damage was caused by this drive to success? Was there any at all? Again, something that fully deserved to be explored. Or was the movie just a tribute to the success of Jiro?

My CEO will never be Jiro. He may think he's Jiro. Hell, he also thinks he's Steve Jobs. But when I hear him on the phone again for the nth evening telling his son he won't be home because some VC term sheet has an incorrectly-crossed T...I just have to sit back and think it's not fucking worth it. EVER. No matter how much we worship the IPOs and fuck-you-money-level-exits on HN, there are thousands of kids sitting at home wondering if their parents will be home to tuck them in that night.

I think that is a major question the documentary should make you ask; is it worth it? I mean, it makes it pretty clear that to achieve that level of greatness requires huge sacrifices that come from complete devotion to a craft. Missing that point takes away a lot from what he achieved and also puts it into perspective.

So true, but have to add a bit more...

1) ... but those that want and realized the cost of achieving that decided not to.

2) ... there are only a few handful that decided to pursue it regardless the cost.

Cost here usually means family.

This was my reaction too. I was initially inspired by his dedication.

But Jiro also illustrates that to reach the top of some crafts your dedication must border on sociopathy.

I would argue the average person's life is much closer to bordering on sociopathy. Jiro is full of energy and happiness at age 85. So many "normal" people are sickly physically and or mentally by age 85. They complain about how things use to be better, they watch fox news, have no passion in their life and feel empty. I see the opposite in Jiro, he seems to be so full. So full of joy, and passion. A simple life doesn't mean a sociocpthic life. The complexity and lavishness most people look for to make them feel full often what makes them feel so empty. So I disagree, Jiro is not a cautionary tale, rather he is an inspiration. I hope I am that happy and full of life at age 85. I hope I am still dreaming of new ideas at night and honing my passion durring the day.

What makes you think that Jiro is happy? I got no such indication from watching the film.

He said as much, a couple of times. Once that he was happy, the other that he was ecstatic while making sushi.

This is why I collect screenshots of UI elements and Web pages I think look good (several thousand in the last 10 years). I was the typical "I can't do design!" developer for years, but if you pay attention to and record your tastes then your skill level will slowly begin to close the gap.

How do you collect them, just in a directory or do you use some tool? I also collect sites and web-apps who's UI/design I really like on my personal wiki system, but it has a lot of flaws, i.e. they're not screenshots so if the site changes I lose the UI. Would love to hear how other people manage this.

It's been posted countless times but Ira Glass (radio personality and host of "This American Life") has very similar advice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BI23U7U2aUY

I knew I was summoning up my taste-vs-talent terminology from something I'd read/heard but couldn't remember what. That's exactly what it was - thanks! :-)

That's a key that when start paying even a little attention and collecting things you feel are good, you start to also see things that are not that good.

I am now $120 poorer thanks to this 'free' movie.

After watching this movie you may be tempted to find your nearest high quality sushi restaurant, sit at the bar and ask the Chef to make you whatever he sees fit. This is a delicious but very expensive idea. I did get to try a number of dishes that I would never have ordered though ... all thanks to Jiro.

Ha! The exact same thing happened to me.

If you are in DC I highly recommend the tasting menu at Sushi Taro. Very similar experience to the film - 10 courses of amazing food (although it includes some non sushi items as well).

99% Positive with critics on Rotten Tomatoes: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/jiro_dreams_of_sushi/

Available for free streaming with Amazon Prime: http://www.amazon.com/Jiro-Dreams-of-Sushi/dp/B008ODZEQ0

Or streaming for Netflix subscribers: https://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Jiro_Dreams_of_Sushi/7018...

Tangential, but I just ate at Sukiyabashi Jiro last week and it was incredible. They were much friendlier than sometimes portrayed too.

Was it worth almost $400 per person? Or $19 for each piece of sushi?

I'm not surprised that they were very friendly. Most of the people in the documentary stated that Jiro has a "stern" appearance when he's making sushi. From my experience, I find that people often mistake concentration for anger.

I would imagine that the story alone is worth as much.

As with many things it's diminishing returns, but I can easily say it far exceeded any other I'd had (and I used to live there). Whether it's worth the money is up to you. It was for me, though I won't be coming back for the same omakase again. I'd go back for a few individual ones that stood out. The omakase course is IMO the right way to get the full experience your first time.

It also wasn't as rushed as I've read, though it wasn't a full house when I went. The course lasted at least a half hour, then we were seated at a table with watermelon and tea and however much time we wanted to wind down.

Some notes if you want to visit: They seem to require you make a reservation from a Japanese number. They will direct you to their (lesser or at least much different) Roppongi branch if you're not a fluent/native speaker, so get a friend in Japan to do it for you. You can only reserve for the following month, so do it on the first day of the previous month. This means that you'll probably have to plan your trip around the reservation you're able to get.

If you have a master of a trade in your family, you will know the weight of the title master, and the respect that comes with the excellence in detail. You will also know by example that a master is a person of search and tinkering not unlike a child, while knowing the depth of the trade from both experience and learning from others. Jiro is lucky that he can continue his trade at age 85. We are lucky to observe a real master we can look up to.

"But just when you think you know it all, you realize that you're just fooling yourself... and then you get depressed."

--A Fish Vendor

The look he gives the camera after saying that is priceless.

Coincidentally, I watched "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" this evening, and I'm pleasantly surprised to see it on the front page of HN. I was absolutely fascinated by Jiro, and I couldn't stop thinking about how his advice is applicable to honing you software development skills. Jiro never stops trying to improve in all facets of his craft, including the seemingly minor details.

I agree with the Roger Ebert quote that it's clear he sacrificed much of his family life to obtain this mastery. Jiro even admits that he wasn't a good father. However, if you love what you do, as he does, then I can't fault him for it. We'd be so fortunate to have that kind of passion.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi was probably on the front page for more than couple of times. Here's one just 2 days earlier: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4462539

"75 years rule" is the new "10,000 hours rule".

If life extension pans out, imagine how awesome it would be if experts easily could spend 75 years perfecting their craft without dedicating their entire lives.

I agree with the OP, but the most important part of Jiro's philosophy is his believe that one must choose a craft and dedicate one's life to perfecting it.

If this is the mindset that you take towards your work, you will naturally seek out the best in your field and learn what they do best to incorporate it into your own approach.

Is there such a thing as craft in programming? Our industry changes so fast that it's difficult to imagine anyone becoming a master craftsman.

Yes. At least, a lot of people claim there is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_craftsmanship

I'm not particularly a fan of the "software craftsman" moniker/movement but I think there can be craft to it. Technologies come and go but programming language paradigms, core algorithms, and fundamental ways of working with code tend to remain similar across the decades.

Daniel Pink's "Drive" is a manifesto around this idea. I think all craftsmen should read it.

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