Takumi: A 60,000 Hour Story on The Survival of Human Craft Image

Premiering at DOC NYC Festival, Clay Jeter’s Takumi: A 60,000 Hour Story on The Survival of Human Craft is a fascinating look into the world of Japanese artistry and craftsmanship. Something I didn’t know upon viewing on the big screen is that it’s rather short (51 min) runtime, and this version of Takumi I saw was but a snippet of an ACTUAL 60,000-hour-long documentary.

Malcolm Gladwell famously theorized in this book The Outliers that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in one’s field. Takumi or Japanese master craftsmen take that concept and expand it to 60,000 hours which equates to 240 8-hour days a year, for 30 years. That’s what I call dedication, or devotion rather, to one’s craft. Someone HAS to love what they’re doing to spend almost their entire life doing the same thing over and over, which is much of what craftsmanship requires.

We follow Shigeo Kiuchi, is a master in Miyadaiku, an ancient method of carpentry in Japan that requires a lot of skill and attention. There are several different aspects to creating a Miyadaiku structure, and each craftsman spends their lifetime becoming an expert in only one aspect, meaning several Takumi must gather their talents to build these breathtaking structures that have been all over Japan since before all of us were born.

“…each craftsman spends their lifetime becoming an expert in only one aspect…”

Next, we have Hisato Nakahigashi, who is a chef at a Michelin star restaurant, Miyamasou, which his father founded many years ago. Nakahigashi traveled to France for culinary training and worked for 20,000 hours in restaurants in Europe until his father died, returning to Miyamasou to carry on the tradition of his parents’ inn. Every day he forages for ingredients on the grounds of the inn, which shares space with a 12th-century temple. We see him take ingredients from the Earth around him and craft them into not only delicious looking meals but also breathtaking pieces of art.

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