The Pursuit of Perfection {Japanese Film Festival} – Film Review

Food, it’s the thing that fuels everyone. Without it we’d drop dead pretty quickly. For some it’s an inconvenient necessity, but for others, like myself and many, it’s far more than sustenance.

Food is an experience, to sit down, take your time and enjoy a beautiful flavour packed meal with friends or family. But then there’s those that cook and craft these amazing meals for us to enjoy. The Japanese documentary The Pursuit for Perfection takes a microscope to some of the most prestigious dining rooms of Tokyo, Japan.

Director Toshimichi Saitō introduces us to four Japanese chefs at the top of their games, and explores their beginnings, inspirations, and passion to create these meals for others. I appreciate that Saitō examined an array of cuisines in the film, from Takemasa Shinohara’s kaiseki, a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner inspired by his childhood, to Natsuko Shōji’s stunning and painstakingly crafted desserts and cakes. 

Then there is Yōsuke Suga’s exquisite take on modern French cooking and the truly artistic Edomae-style sushi creations of Takaaki Sugita. Every dish served up by all chefs had me salivating and making me wish ‘smell-o-vision’ was real! 

Everyone in this documentary is incredibly talented, deeply passionate, and highly skilled, but they’re also very respectful of the culture and traditions that have influenced the world they are in. There’s also a great emphasis on the next generation of chefs, showing the head chefs mentoring and teaching their apprentices, cooks, and kitchen workers.

It’s not just about what goes on in the kitchen either, Saitō explores the other aspects of the featured chefs’ lives, such as Takemasa Shinohara, who is also a keen martial artist and practices karate. He reveals the parallels of the two disciplines and how they go hand in hand, which I thought was a really cool insight.

The Pursuit for Perfection is the definition of ‘a feast for the eyes’. The film is deeply cinematic, showing mouth-watering close ups of the stunning food being made, the plating up moments before being served, and the completed dishes. It also features stunning images of the Japanese countryside, mountains, and Tokyo city itself. 

Japan has always been on my list of places to visit someday and after watching The Pursuit for Perfection, it has jumped up a few spots on the list. I already knew that Japan had a hugely rich food culture, but this film cemented that for me. As a self-confessed foodie, I can’t wait to get there and possibly visit some of the restaurants featured in the film.

The 2022 Japanese Film Festival is on from November through to December and is screening The Pursuit for Perfection in Canberra, Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney.
For more information, dates, times, and ticketing, visit:

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