The Budo Concept

SushiAs previously mentioned in my article on Sashimi, one can draw parallels between Japanese gastronomy and Budo (Japanese martial arts). The fundamental idea behind Budo is that self-development and training are lifelong processes and that through repetition you constantly strive to improve your skills. This means that one should always try to do things better than yesterday. The core concept of repetition is, according to Budo, an important element in developing a foundation of patience and unwavering willpower, so as to be able to accomplish your goals. Patience is a virtue in the eyes of the Japanese, and in time, you also learn to respect your fellow human beings and social circle, which contribute to your development. As your abilities improve, so does the mind, and at some point you reach a higher level, where your skills and soul become one. Your soul and emotions become a part of what you do (see the section on sashimi).

The path to Sushi Shyokunin (Sushi chef)

“It takes 5-10 years to learn to make sushi“. If this rule also applied in Copenhagen, there would certainly be far fewer sushi restaurants than there are today. However, if you want to learn according to the true, traditional Japanese way, then it takes that long, since the time also includes the development of the person\’s character. In the past, if one wanted to become a sushi Shyokunin (sushi chef), one became an apprentice to a sushi master. The first years one did little more than the preparation work, such as cleaning, washing rice, shopping, and so on; tasks that more or less did not directly involve sushi. Some places, you were not even allowed to touch the rice. The apprentice was part of a process where his patience and dedication were tested. It is well known that many quit in the middle of the apprenticeship.

Another reason that the process took as long as it did is that one did not receive detailed instructions from the master. Instead, one had to develop the technique through observation. This way, one learned the master\’s philosophy while also developing one’s own.

Skills represent lifelong experience and these cannot be passed on with words. Knowledge and skills that cannot be expressed in words can only be communicated through experience, and this always takes time. This means that the relationship of the master and the apprentice is crucial to the learning process.

Following so many years of hard work and focus on repetition, one became a specialist within sushi. Once again, the Japanese mindset is that if one does something it should be 100% and never half hearted. Once the master determined that the apprentice reached the point where he can be called a sushi Shyokunin, the apprentice enjoyed the status of having completed the apprenticeship period.

With western eyes, it may seem limiting to be associated with one area for life, and present day younger Japanese people do not have this kind of patience and strength of will to sacrifice everything in order to achieve perfection in one area.

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