While a number of female sushi chefs are working hard to change societal norms and stereotypes, there’s one special restaurant in Akihabara that’s taking things even further with a sushi bar staffed entirely by women. From purchasing ingredients to preparing fish and making sushi, these ladies are looking to challenge the male-dominated profession, and they’re doing it all while dressed in traditional Japanese clothing.
Nadeshico Sushi might look like a traditional sushi bar, but there’s one thing that makes it very different: All its employees are women!
That may sound like no big deal to many of us, but in Japan, the majority of sushi restaurants are run by male staff, and there’s a general view that sushi made by women is somehow inferior to sushi made by men. The reasons given for this range from the belief that women’s hands are warmer, which interferes with the temperature of the ingredients, to the fact that women wear makeup, which supposedly interferes with their sense of smell. Some even blame menstruation, which is the reason cited by Kazuyoshi Ono, son of Jiro Ono, owner of world-renowned sushi restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro. Kazuyoshi has been quoted as saying that women can’t be sushi chefs because their taste becomes imbalanced due to their menstrual cycle.
Thankfully, there are a number of female sushi chefs working to change the male-dominated profession and challenge the myths surrounding women in the world of sushi. At Nadeshico Sushi, the ladies behind the counter might not have the years of training required to be considered professional sushi chefs, but they’ve all completed courses at Tokyo Sushi Academy, where they train in knife maintenance, rice preparation, and the making of sushi from a wide variety of seafood.
By employing all-female staff, Nadeshico Sushi aims to support the promotion of women in a profession traditionally dominated by men. And they’re doing it all in cute, traditional Japanese outfits and kimono—true to the concept of Yamato Nadeshiko, a term used to describe the idealized Japanese woman, from which the restaurant takes its name.
They might dress like shy, polite women from the days of yore, but the message of equality the girls are promoting is one that’s currently at the forefront for even the Abe administration, as the Japanese Prime Minister continues to work toward “a society in which all women shine.”