Japan’s sushi industry is notoriously male-dominated, but a group of intrepid female chefs have begun to combat the sexism preventing women from working in the field. In Tokyo’s Akihabara district you’ll now find a restaurant called Nadeshiko Sushi — and every single employee is female.
The Guardian reports that chef Yuki Chizui, 29, opened the restaurant with about five years into her career. She now has a decade of experience under her belt. And as Chizui makes clear to The Guardian, she is up to the challenge of competing in a sexist industry: “It’s all about having the confidence...The hours are long and the work can be physically tough, so that’s why some people believe women are not up to it. If they want it badly enough, they can overcome the sexism.”
There’s plenty to be overcome, too. In addition to the usual clientele, men sometimes come to Nadeshiko to berate the female chefs for sullying what they regard as a masculine art.
According to Kazuyoshi Ono, a big industry name, women purportedly cannot prepare sushi because “their menstrual cycle affects their sense of taste.” Still “others believe that women’s higher core body temperature adversely affects fresh ingredients, or that their use of cosmetics interferes with their sense of smell.”
But Chizui says that she sees her detractors as “fools” and that ultimately the quality of her restaurant’s fare will speak for itself.
“That’s the best way to answer our critics,” she says, “to keep proving to our customers that we can make good sushi.”
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