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Jiro Dreams Of Sushi (2012)

Release Date:
Friday, March 9, 2012

MPAA Rating:

Rating Reason:
Mild thematic elements and brif smoking


Jiro Ono, Sukiyabashi Ono

David Gelb

The story of 85 year-old Jiro Ono, considered by many to be the world's greatest sushi chef. He is the proprietor of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a 10-seat, sushi-only restaurant inauspiciously located in a Tokyo subway station. Despite its humble appearances, it is the first restaurant of its kind to be awarded a prestigious 3 star Michelin review, and sushi lovers from around the globe make repeated pilgrimage, calling months in advance and shelling out top dollar for a coveted seat at Jiro's sushi bar.

Jiro Dreams Of Sushi (2012) | Review

Search for Perfection
Darrel Manson

Content Image
Sybaritic: loving luxury or sensuous pleasure. I've always liked that word. It is the perfect word to lead a review of Jiro Dreams of Sushi. The film focuses on one expression of luxuriousness—food—but it presents that in its own manner of sensual pleasure.

In a Tokyo subway station, there is a ten-seat restaurant. That restaurant has Michelin's highest rating, three stars. It serves what is considered to be the best sushi in the world. The cost of a meal starts at 30,000 yen (about $360). People come from all over the world to eat here. You have to make reservations a month ahead. This restaurant has been the life work of Jiro Ono, now 85. He started making sushi when he was nine years old and continues to believe that he can still do it better.

That drive for perfection is one of the centers of the film. Jiro is not alone in his search for perfection. His suppliers are chosen because they share that desire: tuna is bought from a fish merchant who only sells tuna, shrimp from one who specializes in shrimp, rice from someone who will only sell this special rice to Jiro because no one else knows how to cook it properly. His staff has learned the trade from him through a ten year (!) apprenticeship. They take pride in being able to make something so close to perfection. Each person seems to find that search for the best to be a matter of pleasure.

Another lesson learned from Jiro is one of his secrets to success: "you have to fall in love with your job." Jiro spends all his days at work. He dislikes holidays because they are too long. He wants to be back at his restaurant. There is an amazing work ethic that extends from Jiro to everyone around him. For Jiro work is not a toil that makes possible a search for pleasure, it is the pleasure for which he lives.

The film itself is built around the search for sensual pleasure. As we watch Jiro creating his wares, we see each piece as a small work of art. The camera takes us as close to the sushi as we can get without actually being able to taste it. We may not be able to sample the food, but we feast on the beauty of each simply-presented bite.

There has always been a struggle in various faith traditions between turning away from the temptations of pleasures and the embracing of those same pleasures as a celebration of God's creation. Early Christian ascetics seeking to live perfect lives went into the desert to avoid such enticements, but others have come to see the many pleasures of the world as ways that we sample God's good gifts to us. This film may lean toward the indulgent side, but it does so in the context of a very clear work ethic that strives for perfection.

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