In an age when many people determine expertise and authority by a blue check next to a Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram account, the idea of a true expert at his or her craft has been somewhat washed out. It is no longer an expectation, it's a rarity, and Lexus is honoring those who show true dedication to the art and science of practice. On March 19, Lexus will release a documentary about reaching takumi status, the highest level an artisan in Japan can attain by putting in 60,000 hours of work.
Lexus first debuted this documentary, "Takumi – A 60,000-Hour Story on the Survival of Human Craft," at the DOC NYC film festival in New York. The film, which Lexus calls a character-driven study, has two forms. The feature version will debut on Amazon Prime and other streaming services, but that's technically a cut from the full-length 60,000-hour version. Yes, 60,000 hours, that's not a typo. The elongated cut will feature loops and repetitions of various skills as a way to imitate and display what it takes to become a takumi craftsman.
(In case you're wondering, 60,000 hours translates into 7,500 eight-hour workdays, or more than 20 years if the artisan never took a single day off. Twelve-hour days would achieve true takumi mastery in under 14 years. To watch the full-length documentary, running nonstop 24 hours a day without bathroom breaks, you'd need 2,500 days, or nearly seven years.)
The timing of the Clay Jeter-directed (Chef's Table) documentary is no coincidence, as manufacturing and production has been hit hard by machinery and artificial intelligence. Paired with the idea that everybody now wants things instantly, there is legitimate worry that the art of human craftsmanship is dying.
There are four subjects in the movie: Lexus craftsman Katsuaki Suganuma, carpenter Shigeo Kiuchi, paper artist Nahoko Kojima, and chef Hisato Nakahigashi. Each has an inspiring mentality and story regarding a principle we've all been hearing since we were children: "Practice makes perfect." But a real takumi knows there is no such thing as perfection, only the path toward it.
Watch the trailer for the documentary above.