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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."

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20...




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.




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