food

Nadeshico Sushi restaurant challenges gender roles with all-female staff clad in kimono

10 Comments
By Oona McGee, RocketNews24

How many times has a woman made sushi for you at a sushi bar in Japan? If you answered "never," you’re certainly not alone as the world of sushi is one that’s traditionally been dominated by men. 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 widespread view that sushi made by women is inferior to sushi made by men. The reasons given for this ranges 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 trained in knife maintenance, rice preparation, and the making of sushi from a wide variety of seafood.

By employing an 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 kimonos, true to the concept of Yamato Nadeshiko, a term used to describe the idealised 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 of the Abe administration, as the Japanese prime minister continues to work towards “a society in which all women shine”.

Another surprise from the traditionally-dressed group of girls working to challenge societal gender norms is their special “deko” menu, which features “deko maki“, decorated "makizushi," or rolled sushi, with cute patterns and adorable shapes, and “deko chirashi” decorated "chirashizushi," which is a container of rice scattered with a variety of garnishes and raw seafood. While they serve all the regular sushi staples, this type of cute food and the restaurant’s female-oriented focus often has people mistaking them for a newfangled maid cafe. The team at Nadeshico Sushi don’t see themselves this way, instead billing themselves as a unique sushi restaurant.

If you’re looking to get a taste of Japan today, as it teeters on the edge of the future while being tugged at by the strings of the past, be sure to stop and pay Nadeshico Sushi a visit. The more people are exposed to seeing women behind the sushi counter, the more used to it they will hopefully become. And as one field influences others, who knows — we might well be on the track to the election of a (gasp!) female prime minister!

Restaurant Information Nadeshico Sushi Address: Tokyo-to, Chiyoda-ku, Soto kanda 3-12-15, Chichibu Denki Building 2F 東京都千代田区外神田3-12-15 チチブ電機ビル2F Phone number: 03-3254-6661 Opening Hours: Weekdays: 11:30 – 2 p.m., 5 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. Weekends: 12 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. Website

Sources: Nadeshico Sushi, The Wall Street Journal, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Want to Grow a Bonsai Tree? There’s an App for That -- Bluebeard!?!? Oh, blue BEER? Yeah, that’s still weird… -- What to do when you need to find a good sushi restaurant – hire a Sushi Taxi, and get some sightseeing done at the same time!

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10 Comments
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"Challenging" gender roles by reinforcing gender stereo-types...good job <_<

I agree that the male dominated sushi world needs a good injection of equality but I personally feel that this kind of faux-equality is just the other side of the same sexist coin; Yes women can be sushi chefs but because they are women they must decorate it and dress in girly ways because that is what is expected from the sexist society.

It is a refreshing idea but it's so ridiculously half-cocked that it misses the target in my opinion.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

No thanks. I'm old school. . . Japanese male Sushi Chefs are renowned worldwide.

While they serve all the regular sushi staples, this type of cute food and the restaurant’s female-oriented focus often has people mistaking them for a newfangled maid cafe.

Ha-ha! Imagine that. Female staff making sushi making sushi in maid outfits. But this idea wouldn't be so far fetched here in Japan. Again, no thanks.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

For many years now, some of the best sushi restaurants in New York City have been run by Japanese women.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/06/05/dining/she-has-a-knife-and-she-knows-how-to-use-it.html?pagewanted=all

2 ( +4 / -2 )

"Challenging" gender roles by reinforcing gender stereo-types...good job"

Not so sure about that.. I think this might have the same psychology behind it as that femist group "femen" who expose theirselves to fight sexual abuse against women.

I'm not saying that's the right way to go either, but these contradictions make sense to a certain extend.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

No thanks - not because she's female, but because her hair is hanging down over the sushi.

Most unprofessional.

Extremely un-appetizing.

Even elementary school kids serving class lunch have the sense to cover their hair!

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Izumisawa Miki runs a Japanese fusion restaurant in Laguna Beach, CA. While our cranky "Sushi Nazi" Nozawa-sensei (Sugarfish) would look at her food and say "not real sushi," her food looks genuinely imaginative and beautiful and like it would taste good. I hope to visit her restaurant some time in the future. http://munchies.vice.com/videos/the-sushi-chef-miki-izumisawa

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The more people are exposed to seeing women behind the sushi counter, the more used to it they will hopefully become. And as one field influences others, who knows — we might well be on the track to the election of a (gasp!) female prime minister!

So somehow the logic here is that the more we see women dressed up in costumes and doing low-paid service work the more we'll see them as national leaders??

The uncritical nature of this fluff piece is disturbing. Why did the writer not examine who the owners of this restaurant are and if any of them are women or if women are in management positions? Well, we only need to look at the sources to find an answer.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Don't care as long as the food tastes good.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Kazuyoshi has been quoted as saying that women can’t be sushi chefs because their taste becomes imbalanced due to their menstrual cycle.

Kazuyoshi Ono is a pretentious ass, but it doesn't take too much to realize that he probably inherited this blatantly sexist idiocy from his father, another pretentious ass in his own right.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's really a pity she let her hair down like this. It's really unappetising...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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