shokunin and umami in software engineering dot dot dot

Aug 9, 2015  

Saw a great movie yesterday, “Jiro dreams of Sushi”, which is really all about the lifelong quest for perfection. Chef Jiro Ono has been making Sushi for seven decades, and is still trying to get better at it.

Which is admirable, but how can lesser mortals as us draw some inspiration from it? What is the equivalent of being a Shokunin1 in terms of programming (or realistically, in terms of software engineering)? What is the equivalent experience of Umami2?


  1. The Japanese word shokunin is defined by both Japanese and Japanese-English dictionaries as ‘craftsman’ or ‘artisan,’ but such a literal description does not fully express the deeper meaning. The Japanese apprentice is taught that shokunin means not only having technical skills, but also implies an attitude and social consciousness. … The shokunin has a social obligation to work his/her best for the general welfare of the people. This obligation is both spiritual and material, in that no matter what it is, the shokunin’s responsibility is to fulfill the requirement.Tasio Odate [return]
  2. As the taste of umami itself is subtle and blends well with other tastes to expand and round out flavors, most people don’t recognize umami when they encounter it, but it plays an important role making food taste delicious. (reference) [return]