Jiro Dreams of Sushi

This is another feature length documentary I’d intended to watch for a long time. It was worth the wait. From the New Yorker review:

One of the hardest reservations to get in the world is a seat at Jiro Ono’s sushi counter, a three-Michelin-star restaurant adjoining the entrance to the Ginza metro station, in the basement of a business building in Tokyo. A meal there, which consists of twenty pieces of sushi served one at a time, costs thirty thousand Japanese yen (about three hundred and seventy dollars), and lasts about fifteen or twenty minutes. (By contrast, a meal at Noma, probably the toughest get on the list, takes a good three to four hours). There are only ten seats, there is a set menu (no appetizers or modifications), and there are definitely no California rolls.

The question of what makes this hole in the wall so worthy is the subject of a gorgeously shot documentary opening today called “Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” directed by David Gelb. Jiro Ono was born in 1925, left home at the age of nine, and has been making sushi ever since. Though Japan has declared him a national treasure, he still says, at the age of eighty-five, “All I want to do is make better sushi.” He goes to work every day by getting on the train from the same position, he always tastes his food as he makes it, and he dislikes holidays. Jiro is described as a shokunin—a person who embodies the artisan spirit of the relentless pursuit of perfection through his craft.

Another Japanese term that came to my mind while I watched the film was kaizen, meaning “improvement” or “change for the better.” The concept is one of process, and it is often applied in business settings, like manufacturing and logistics, to ensure constant and never-ending improvement. Before cooking his octopus, Jiro used to massage it for up to thirty minutes. Now he will massage it for forty minutes, to give it an even softer texture and a better taste. Before a meal at Sukiyabashi Jiro, guests are handed a hot towel, hand-squeezed by an apprentice. The apprentices, who train for at least ten years under Jiro, are not allowed to cut the fish until they practice just handling it. One of the older apprentices says Jiro taught him to “press the sushi as if it were a baby chick.”

Read the rest here

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Tokyo Reverse

As described in Wired:

Recently, Ludovic Zuilli, a 28-year old photographer, spent over nine hours walking backwards through the streets of Tokyo. You get the pleasure of watching his journey in reverse.

Tokyo Reverse, the product of that simple editing trick, is a dreamlike journey through a world in which everything and everyone moves backwards. In the footage, captured by friend Simon Bouisson, crowds bustle hurriedly in reverse; people arrive at the top of an escalator with their backs turned; and a selfie is saved, reviewed, captured, and posed for–in that order.

 

Tokyo Reverse

Adam Magyar’s sublime Stainless series of videos

From Fast Co. Create:

Commuting isn’t pretty, and yet Hungarian-born, Berlin-based artist Adam Magyar has managed to find the beauty in life’s most mundane daily endeavor. In a series of short videos called Stainless, he captures city dwellers in New York, Berlin, and Tokyo in a state of suspension. To make his films, Magyar rode the subways and filmed people outside the trains with a slow motion camera. That is drastically simplifying the artistic and technological detail that went into the project. Magyar created a whole complement of specially modified gear and software to capture the hypnotic, high resolution images.

Adam Magyar’s sublime Stainless series of videos