"Jiro Dreams of Sushi", a movie about an increasingly taboo subject: Mastery.

A movie about an increasingly taboo subject in this vapidity-worshipping society of ours: Mastery.

“Jiro Dreams Of Sushi” is a documentary about the world’s greatest sushi chef, 85-year-old Jiro Ono. What’s striking about Jiro is not that he has reached such greatness, but how he reached it.

Instead of the usual celebrity chef schtick- TV shows, cookbooks, fancy restaurants franchises in all the world capitals (including the mandatory Las Vegas casino location), he kept it REALLY simple: a single, TINY, 10-seater restaurant in a subway station in Tokyo.

Why did he do it that way? Because he wasn’t interested in money, he was interested in the MASTERY of his chosen craft. The bigger he made his restaurant business, the less time he would have to spend on his TRUE calling, making sushi.

Which is why the restaurant only serves sushi. That’s it. No appetizers. No side dishes. No tempura or yaki soba. No non-sushi entrees. A tiny little underground hole in the wall with only a few stools and even fewer tables. That’s it. And yet people have been known to make reservations a year in advance.

He wasn’t in it for the money, he was in it because it allowed him to strive for perfection.

In a world that often rewards money and office politics over mastery, maybe more mediocre people get to drive fancy cars, live in big houses and wear a lot of bling, but something is lost in the process. And we are the poorer for it.

Jiro reminds us that it doesn’t have to be that way. You can achieve mastery, or at least aim for it, if you decide to.

But only you can decide that, of course. Only you can decide what kind of example you want to be for your children.

A beautiful mediation on “Mastery”. A beautiful meditation on “Small is beautiful”. A beautiful meditation on “Meaning Scales”. I loved every last minute of it. I would urge anyone who actually cares about what they do- the process, not just the result- to go see this movie: It’ll change your life. Rock on.


  1. I cannot WAIT to see this. Thanks so much for talking about this. We have taken many lessons from one of four men given the title of Master Horseman in Iceland, and their slogan is that it actually takes 200 years to become a true master of horsemanship.

    The film looks so inspiring.

  2. Man, now you’re making me curious. I was already interested in seeing that movie, but now I HAVE to see it —badly.

    Mastery is big concept in my creative life – I want to be one of the best in my field, and that’s why I’m practicing the craft every single day of the week.

  3. Jiro’s goal is to make great sushi. Celebrity chefs, no matter how talented, have as their goal making money. It just happens that they do so through cooking. Cooking is a means to an end for celebrity chefs. Cooking is the ends for Jiro. Bless him.

    Thanks for sharing this, I’ll keep an eye out for the movie.

  4. A paradox really, that Mastery has been played down…

    The three core intrinsic rewards that actually works for us all are: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose!

    • “Auto­nomy, Mas­tery and Purpose”. Exactly. Beautifully put, Thanks!

      Notice how you said “Autonomy”, not “Money”. Money is a way of attaining autonomy, not happiness etc. Bill Gates said the same thing recently.

  5. I doubt I will get to see the film until it’s on DVD/Netflix.

    I agree that the current culture neglects mastery.

    I do worry that the worship of money will cause someone to turn this story into one of the 15 minute workshop motivation films like the one made about the Seattle fish market.

  6. […] work out there. As I was pondering all my thoughts for this posting I came across this posting from GapingVoid. It related to an upcoming documentary about a renowned sushi chef who even in his older age does […]

  7. […] “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”, a movie about an increasingly taboo subject: Mastery. (gapingvoid.com) […]

  8. Hugh: Saw “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” tonight with my wife, based on your recommendation.

    I enjoyed the peek into Jiro’s process, attitude, and passion.

    What also struck me was that depending on the person watching the movie, this can be incredibly inspiring or extremely demotivating.

    There really is no easy substitution for time and dedication.

  9. […] watch this short film please ….85 years old, with 3 Michelin Stars for a 10 seater restaurant in a subway… and still […]

  10. This is wonderful!

    Of course, will never come to theaters in Brazil. So hopefully someone someday will make it available in torrent for the delight of millions of people outside the mainstream movie circuit.

  11. Took the wife and 11 yo daughter to see this 2 weeks ago – it is absolutely moving and thought provoking on so many levels. The main thing is indeed “mastery”, but it is also about the sheer delight and beauty of simplicity on so many levels. I kept thinking about how much noise is in my life (and I am one of the ones who strive to keep it low), and how much time and energy we waste worrying about non-important things. Jiro is about work, purpose, family (perhaps the strongest message herein), and staying with something long enough to see the beautiful end creation. I CANNOT recommend this movie highly enough, and turn off ALL electronica and distractions when you see it – you will be moved (if you have a soul). Enjoy – Paul