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Tokyo’s Jiro Ono finds perfection in fish

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Jiro Ono Yoshikazu Ono Directed by David Gelb Rated PG

Sukiyabashi Jiro, the tiny sushi bar tucked into a Tokyo subway station, is a neatly framed mirror of its owner. Eighty-five-yearold Jiro Ono has been preparing sushi for 75 years and has run his own place for much of that time with his two sons and a handful of apprentices. Everything in the restaurant is clean, precise and exactly in place. Like the meals served there, Jiro is an elegant composition in minimalism where less is truly more.

David Gelb’s documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi takes its name from an offhand remark by Ono, who actually dreams of sushi.

Gelb follows the old man through a routine that seldom varies. Mostly, the director observes as luscious creations emerge from the kitchen and listens as Ono describes his philosophy. When a man finds his profession, the old man says, he should fall in love with his work and improve in a tireless dance of repetition with his natural gifts. Making sushi is Ono’s dharma, and he will not deviate from the path, always striving forward toward a horizon ever receding.

Ono has received many awards, and the stools at his counter are usually booked a month in advance. A customer could be in and out of Jiro in 15 minutes, yet one dares not call his preparations fast food. Ono goes to market every day for the fresh catch, and there his observations are in a minor key. The seas are being over-fished. Tuna takes time to mature, but nowadays young fish are being swept up in the nets of industrial-size trawlers before they have time to

mature. Environmental degradation threatens his legacy, but in the face of a world he can’t control, Ono will continue to follow his calling and make the most perfect sushi in Tokyo.

Opens April 27 at Downer Theatre.

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