In Japan, sushi crafted by skilled Itamae is revered as an art-form with vigorous quality standards and a rich history in tradition. One of those traditions is that sushi should only be prepared by men because masculinity is closely tied to the authenticity of the sushi experience.This archaic disposition is still held in high esteem today. Jiro’s son (from Jiro Dreams of Sushi) was berated earlier this year for suggesting that women cannot be sushi chefs because of their menstrual cycles.
But one restaurant is trying to turn this gender-biased trend around. Nadeshiko Sushi, a restaurant in the Akihabara District in Tokyo is entirely staffed by women, from hostesses to managers and female chefs, according to The Guardian. These female chefs are challenging the norm in a career traditionally dominated by men.
Becoming a sushi chef in Japan is a rigorous process that often takes longer than medical school in America. Itamae training can take up to a decade to complete, and at Nadeshiko Sushi, owner Yuki Chizui, 29, offers additional training for her staff to perfect rice recipes, and perfect rolling techniques. Nadeshiko Sushi understandably had had its own fair share of critics who come into the restaurant to criticize their gender boundary-breaking tactics, but owner Chizui simply calls these detractors, “fools.”
“That’s the best way to answer our critics,” she tells The Guardian, “to keep proving to our customers that we can make good sushi.”