Pipehacker Movie Review: Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Jiro dreams of sushi, but Pipehacker dreams of bagpipes. I may be making a joke, but in all seriousness, the documentary film Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a great example of the singleminded focus that is required to become the best at just about anything. Even if you couldn’t give a fig about sushi the film is still worth watching if only to see what makes a true master tick. I have listened to many an elite bagpiper talk about the art and I was struck by the similarities in approach between this elderly Japanese chef and some of the world’s best bagpipers. When you hear folks who are true masters of what they do speak the same way about their art, start paying attention.

The movie covers the life of Jiro Ono, the 85-year-old Shokunin, or master sushi chef, operating out of his ten-seat restaurant in the Tokyo subway. Jiro is considered to be the most renowned sushi chef in the world. Chefs of any stature would consider themselves blessed by the gods to have even a one-star rating by the Michelin guide. Jiro has three. His restaurant is one of an elite group of restaurants with a three star rating—something that is nearly impossible and coveted by the finest chefs in the world.

The film is a great insight into the mind of a master of his craft. Take out “sushi” and insert just about anything (in our case, “bagpipes”) and you can see just how uncompromising and strict you must be if you are to excel at your chosen craft. The short movie illustrates perfectly the attitude and approach that serves as the foundation of mastery of anything.

If we continue this week’s theme on the secrets of success, you can find Jiro speaking throughout the film to all eight points discussed in the post “The 8 Secrets of Success—The Bagpipes Edition.” Jiro talks of the hard work that is necessary, the focus one must have, and the push to be better, always improving. He speaks of the ideas that come to him in dreams for new dishes and preparation techniques. He talks about how long it takes to be good at all the various aspects of sushi preparation and how no detail is unimportant or can be overlooked. At one point, a former apprentice discusses that it might be ten years of working for Jiro before you are allowed to touch the fish. After that, it might be another ten years before you are allowed to make the eggs. This former apprentice talks about never being able to please Jiro with his eggs. More than 200 egg sushi preparations were not good enough. When he finally had one that made Jiro exclaim “This is how it should be done!” he wept. Is there a better example of persistence?

Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a worthy free watch if you are a Netflix subscriber or a cheap view at Amazon.com or any of the other streaming movie sites. Inspiration for bagpipers does not necessarily need to come from traditional sources. Watch the movie, watch a master at work, and learn.

  • Thevoidboy

    You are absolutely right on.  Not only is the movie enjoyable to watch, but also sends the kind of message I believe is shared with every great achiever: dedication, perserverance, creativity, the commitment to learning and striving.  These are what great pipers, great athletes, great violinists, hell, even Steve Jobs, tell us when we ask about the secrets of their success.

    Wonderful movie. Well worth watching, by every piper aspiring to make difference…

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