Dedication, Obession – what I learnt from SOMM

I spent the last weekend in Napa Valley, probably America’s most famous wine region. We met some wine enthusiasts, and they mentioned the documentary SOMM. It is about a group of four professional sommeliers who prepare for “the hardest test you’ve never heard of” to earn the Master Sommelier diploma, the highest ranking certificate a wine professional can obtain.

These guys are “maniacs” (quote of one guy’s wife), “some of the most dedicated, obsessed people” (quote of a master sommelier).

But see for yourself:

When I see how they study, how they immerse themselves with wine books, wine magazines, wine people and, of course, wine itself I feel relief and envy.

Relief – because I see that there are other people out there that have a similar passion for these things. Because I feel I am not alone with my interest for a niche subject. I see that it is OK to bury yourself in one field of study. To focus on only one thing – the ONE THING that matters to you.

Envy – because I wish I had friends here in California with whom I could share the passion and study together. One reason why I was happy in Kyoto was that I finally met people who loved studying Japanese gardens. We browsed second-hand bookstores together, spend money on books, special interest magazines and tools, and even in the few hours of our free days dedicated most of our time and energy to the subject. Having fellow passionistas around me helps me justify my own dedication to the subject – it is just easier if you are not alone.

However – until I meet these people here, I will connect to them by watching documentaries about them. About nerds and geeks and all those people who just do their thing. Every minute of every hour of every day.

Two other inspiring documentaries I recently watched. Documentaries about people who are obsessed:

Tim’s Vermeer



If you have more movie recommendation for me, please let me know in the comments!


Day 89 – Kyoto has a new garden

The last day of my trip.

On Sunday night we finished the tsuboniwa at the Mamezen Ramen shop in Kyoto (豆禅). I woke up early this morning to take some pictures of the garden – here is one of them, there are more to come:

Japanese tsuboniwa garden in Kyoto


Mamezen owner and Yuba-Ramen chef Minoru Yonekawa:

With Mamezen owner Minoru Yonekawa (実米川)

With Mamezen owner Minoru Yonekawa (実米川)


The Mamezen garden team: Tatsuhiko Kobayashi (小林達彦), Tatsuomi Ikeda (池田辰臣) and Jenny Feuerpeil (伊恵弐 フォイヤーパイル):

From left to right: Tatsuhiko Kobayashi (小林達彦), Tatsuomi Ikeda (池田辰臣) and Jenny Feuerpeil (伊恵弐 フォイヤーパイル)

From left to right: Tatsuhiko Kobayashi (小林達彦), Tatsuomi Ikeda (池田辰臣) and Jenny Feuerpeil (伊恵弐 フォイヤーパイル)