Inspiration: in theaters now!

cooking, design, inspiration, sewing

(photo: Magnolia Pictures)

We rarely have time to go to movies but have been glad to have made the time to see two inspiring movies that are in theaters now.

The first is an indie film that you may have a hard time finding if you don’t live in a major city but is worth renting when it is eventually available on Netflix or elsewhere. If you can see it in the theater, though, it’s well worth the price of admission. It’s called Jiro Dreams of Sushi but sushi isn’t really the point of this movie in my opinion. More on that later.

Photo: Magnolia Pictures.

The movie focuses on Jiro, a 93-year-old sushi master who operates a 10-seat sushi restaurant in a Tokyo train station. Jiro has two sons who are trying to live up to their father’s international reputation. Jiro has been named a National Living Treasure in Japan and his restaurant has awarded the coveted three-star rating by Michelin.

Some people might say that this movie is about perfection. I’d disagree. I think it’s about being excited about your work and the meaning of work in one’s life. You can’t watch the movie and not think that Jiro’s love of making sushi contributes to his well-being and physical health at 93.

There’s also a more subtle theme in the movie that resonated with me about how hard it can be to resist comparisons to others. Jiro’s son’s can’t escape comparisons with their father and you can tell that they just wish they could have their work stand on its own. I find myself forced to be aware of the rankings and ratings of our books on Amazon vs. that of others, how many Facebook “like” we have compared to others, blog stats, and sales goals, etc. Like Jiro’s sons, I wish our work could be judged on its own and not in comparison to that of others. And I wish that they didn’t sting as much as they do.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a beautiful movie as well. It’s a soft-spoken film that whispers inspiration about the importance of craft and of taking the time to do things well.

The other movie that has earned your entertainment dollars and is worth seeing on the big screen is Mirror, Mirror.

photo: Relativity Media


This retelling of Snow White has a charming story but if you’re a creative type the biggest reason to go is Eiko Ishioka. Eiko Ishioka was an iconic costume designer who, prior to her death in January won Academy, Grammy, and Tony awards, among others, for her work. These stunning costumes are her parting gift to us. They will make your jaw drop.

photo: Relativity Media

They are both so exquisitely made and unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. The colors, the concepts, the fabrics, the silhouettes, the details, the staging. I can’t stop thinking about those beautiful costumes and I wanted to run to the nearest sketchbook and design a new fabric line based entirely on the Ishioka’s costumes.

photo from

Many of you know that I spent my 20s in Japan and that experience was deeply formative for me. So I quickly note that both Jiro the sushi maker and Eiko the costume designer have a few things in common. They both lived through World War II in Japan and likely had limited opportunities in the prime of their lives in post-World War II Japan. They both toiled on perfecting their craft, paying attention to the details, doing great work and continuously setting the bar higher and higher for themselves. Undoubtedly they spent a lot of years working hard before they achieved greatness. That ability to focus and continuously challenge yourself without getting discouraged is as inspiring to me as their work.

12 thoughts on “Inspiration: in theaters now!

  1. Weeks,
    Are you in my head! The theme this month must be focus and commitment. I have had to take my eyes off disappointments and discouragements, and refocus them on my goals, dreams and visions. When did my focus shift? Need to be aware of that and guard my heart and mind!

    Thanks for sharing this! SO INSPIRED!!

    1. Glynis – I’m so glad that this hit home for you too. Achievement is a head game indeed. I’ve always been a very resilient person but sometimes I just need someone to “throw me a bone” — a little bit of encouragement that our long, long hours and hard work will at some point lead to something. I shared my feelings because I’m sure that there are others who need these two inspiring examples as well. So let’s dust ourselves off and get back to the business at hand.

  2. The Jiro Dreams of Sushi movie looks fantastic! I almost feel sorry for his son, though, feeling that Jiro’s “ghost” will always be watching, and although Jiro believes “you should fall in love with your work,” it seems as though his son’s future is preordained.
    The Japanese concept/belief of wabi sabi surfaced as Jiro spoke of not achieving perfection. (Yes, I would have to watch the movie as well as have a better grasp of how Jiro views himself and his work before making any definitive connections.)
    I like the concept of wabi-sabi and its ties (in my mind anyway) to a facet of the modern quilting movement–aberrations can/should be embraced.
    Thanks for another thoughtful post!

  3. A really inspiring post and something we have to keep reminding ourselves of. It’s so easy to focus on popularity (or lack of it) as the goal, rather than just the work, process and heart.
    Thank you (as usual!)

    1. When I worked for a 300-person architecture firm there wasn’t the pressure to “have a following” that there was once we started FunQuilts/Modern Quilt Studio. I’m not an extrovert and I’m not a master of social media so it sometimes feels as though the work is secondary in the minds of others when we want it to be the only factor in whether or not we get more fabric lines, book contracts, teaching gigs, etc. I wouldn’t focus on it at all if it weren’t a topic in every discussion we have with decision makers we work with. When we started in 1999, none of that mattered and I miss those days.

  4. This film showed in our Film Festival last year – it truly is a film worth seeing for the dedication Jiro shows towards his “art”.

    Now I will be interested in seeing Mirror, Mirror that you have recommended.

  5. These movies are definitely on my “to see” list. Thank you for an inspiring post and one that kind of hits home a bit this week as I pursue next steps in my business/career.

  6. Weeks, I wish I could convince you that what “they” say doesn’t matter, and don’t compare yourself to others, and am sure many times you successfully ignore the critics and the voices including the new social media. My Mom is an artist and too many times I compare myself to her…she is also so good at so many things, she’s very creative and determined even at age 81. Sometimes a feel so inspired by her and other times I feel discouraged, though she’s supportive of my efforts. I do feel inspired by you and Bill, not to be like you, but to live a richer and more creative life!
    Thanks for the movie recommendations.

    1. Lisa, I hate to be the bearer of reality but what I’m talking about is not whether or not we’re popular for the sake of being popular. I’m talking about whether or not quilt shop owners like our fabric enough to order it, whether or not our books sell, whether or not someone thinks that if they book us for a class or lecture that we will be able to attract enough of a crowd to make it worthwhile for them.
      This affects our ability to stay in business and our livelihood. You may not be aware of it but this is how people in our position are talked to and about. A sales rep for a fabric manufacturer once admitted that he didn’t even show our line of fabric to shops because he didn’t think we had a big enough following to get the sales. We’ve been told, “We’re looking for someone with a bigger following” and occasionally, “You clearly have a big enough following to make this work.” It’s about whether or not we get the opportunities to do the things that we want to do. It doesn’t affect how we get inspiration but it dramatically affects our future as a business.

      1. Weeks, I guess I mixed up 2 things in my comment – my apologies – excuse me while I extract foot from mouth. You and Bill do seem very secure in your sense of self and abilities, but at least some of the people with the power to get your books and fabrics to the consumers seem out of touch with us (quilters, consumers). The personal insecurity is my issue perhaps brought to the fore by the discussion of the sushi master movie! I will admit to being naive about the business world having so little personal experience in it and with the good fortune of a very bright, capable husband/life partner who supports us by work in the software industry.
        In my little corner of the quilt world, a few of the LQS stock your books and in my Modern Guild people know who you are and value your work.

  7. Lisa –
    Ahh. Thanks for clarifying that. Quilt shop owners are as varied as the rest of the population but understandably are worried about taking chances on things they don’t like or understand — hence the salesman’s comment to us. I think that you’d be surprised at some of the drama that goes on at Quilt Market and behind the scenes. It has shocked me more than a few times so it’s not always easy to deal with the business side of it. I appreciate your vote of confidence in us and thank you for cheering us on.

  8. I really want to see the sushi movie; it’s 90 miles away, though……guess I’ll wait for DVD. There are some disadvantages about living in the country-90 miles from Northern Virginia and bright lights/big city things like movies, great restaurants, concerts, etc. But it’s not that far a drive if we really want to get there.

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