When 85*-year-old Jiro Ono says he dreams of sushi, I believe him. This master sushi chef goes to work every day at his 10-seater restaurant in Tokyo thinking of how he can improve his sushi. As a recipient of three-Michelin stars, it would seem that he’s figured it out. But his attitude of constantly striving is what makes him such an inspiring character in the mouth-watering documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

Ono was just 7 years old when his alcoholic father abandoned the family. At age 9 he was told, “you have no home to come back to.” So he left and started apprenticing at a sushi shop. He’s been perfecting his craft ever since.

In Japanese, they call artisans like Ono, shokunin. “I do the same thing over and over improving bit by bit. There is always a yearning to achieve. Even at my age, I don’t feel I’ve achieved perfection but I feel ecstatic all day. I love making sushi. That’s the spirit of shokunin,” said Ono.

*documentary was released in 2011. 

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