How Japan’s Female Sushi Chefs Are Claiming a Seat at the Counter


Moreover, in an already competitive setting, taking time off to commence a loved ones can drastically established back again a sushi chef’s vocation. “As I labored more time and extended, I became greedy for mastering,” Kasumi Takahashi, a feminine shokunin (artisan) at Ginza Sushi Aoki states. “Now I’m 39 yrs outdated, which is thought of to be ‘old’ to be pregnant. Thinking of the timing is seriously complicated.” 

As Iba’s beer service anecdote proves, discrimination extends to shopper behavior, far too, with some likely so much as to ask for staying reseated in front of a male chef.

Yuki Chizui, the Executive Restaurant Supervisor at Tokyo’s Nadeshiko Sushi, one particular of the initially woman-owned-and-operated sushi restaurants in Japan, has skilled her good share of discriminatory treatment and harassment in the workplace. She recollects a time a middleman Tsukiji sector refused to provide her fish, and suggests she has been the receiver of a great deal gender-centered vitriol on the web. And whilst she thinks some development has been made for gals in her business, she also suggests a lot of it is for present. “Superficially, Japanese cafe industries are accepting of gals,” Chizua suggests. “But largely it is as a tatemae [a public display]. You can see that most places to eat nonetheless employ men for the authoritative positions.”

Ginza Sushi Aoki in Tokyo

Ginza Sushi Aoki

Probably this is why she feels so strongly about choosing women at her very own restaurant, and teaching cooks in her new sushi university Upcoming Technology Sushi Affiliation, which delivers younger women with sushi courses accessible the two in particular person and by way of Zoom. “When I get female applicants to my sushi faculty I truly feel that probably the sushi market is switching,” she suggests.

For several female sushi cooks, there is a deep reverence for those people who have appear prior to them, especially Fumie Takeuchi of Sushi Acquire Ginza in Tokyo, who has turn out to be fairly of a breakout star and female consultant in the substantial-close sushi globe. Mizuo Handa, a previous chef at Kinmezushi, is confident that the extra women get the job done in the sushi business, the much more feminine apprentices will enter the field as a outcome. “At my prior restaurant, just after I became a sushi chef there, the cafe accepted new gals apprentices each calendar year.”


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