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Tuesday, 29th December 2015
In General Japan News,

All-female team of chefs opens sushi restaurant in Tokyo

The world of sushi restaurants is mainly dominated by men, with female chefs a rarity in this area of Japanese cuisine, but one establishment is challenging the status quo.

Nadeshiko Sushi is the only sushi restaurant in the whole of Japan to have an entirely female team of chefs preparing the delicacy, reports The Guardian.

The eatery can be found in the Akihabara district of Tokyo and is run by Yuki Chizui and a dedicated group of women.

Upon first glance, it is not evident that the restaurant is any different to the thousands of others that serve sushi across Japan.

It has a minimalist look, with a long counter and the sliding screens that are prevalent in this part of the world.

Amongst this setting, the staff, wearing bright kimonos and head scarfs stand out to the customers.

On the wall, there is a picture of the proprietor herself in the form of a manga character, highlighting the fact that Nadeshiko Sushi is located right in the heart of Japan’s thriving geek and pop culture scene.

Diners can see their food expertly prepared as the female chefs slice the fish in front of their customers.

While women are rare in preparing sushi across Japan, this restaurant is not the only one to boast having female chefs, but it is the sole example where there are no male employees making the food.

Official statistics are not kept on the number of women working in the industry, but a quick peruse through the establishments listed by the All Japan Sushi Association shows that few of the 35,000 members have women in their kitchens.

Nadeshiko Sushi comes under the banner of being a mid-range suchi restaurant, meaning all the classics, such as tuna, prawn and squid specialities can be found at a reasonable price.

To go upmarket, diners are more likely to frequent the Ginza district of Tokyo, where the sushi restaurants are among some of the best in the world.

Despite this, the establishment is popular with both tourists and locals alike, serving up dishes that sate the appetite without breaking the bank.

Ms Chizui said: “Every sushi restaurant has its own style and flavour, depending on how they cook and prepare the rice, which fish they select, and so on. And like everyone else, we have our own style.”

The name Nadeshiko is a nod to the all-female staff, as it is a type of pink carnation that is said to symbolise the ideal Japanese woman – epitomising grace and beauty.

Nobody should doubt the credentials of those working at the restaurant, however, as training to become a sushi chef can take as long as ten years and most of the staff at Nadeshiko did their qualifications at the Tokyo Sushi Academy.

Each student is given a mentor and everything from the importance looking after their knives to precision in repetition is taught.

Critics of Nadeshiko, or sushi traditionalists as they are sometimes known, suggest that women are not up to the job for a variety of reasons.

They range from having the wrong body temperature for handling raw fish to wearing cosmetics that prevent them from smelling the produce properly.

Ms Chizui is unconcerned about such doubters, stating: “That’s the best way to answer our critics … to keep proving to our customers that we can make good sushi.”

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