In what some consider a blasphemous move, a sushi restaurant in Tokyo has hired only female sushi chefs. Masanori Nakamura, owner of Sushi Nakamura, tells the Wall Street Journal, "My ex-colleagues say I'm a real fool for doing this, but I thought it would be fun. Sushi is an industry that has a long tradition of discriminating against women."
Traditionally sushi making is the province of men, and there are very few female sushi chefs in Japan. Critics say the women of Sushi Nakamura aren't real chefs because they study for only two months, while it usually takes 10 years or more to master traditional sushi making. Also, as the women explain in this video, the restaurant is located in Akihabara, an area of Tokyo known for massage parlors and restaurants where waitresses dress up like maids.
Though Nishikiori talks about empowering women, he'll only hire chefs who are 18 to 25. He explains that their slogan is "fresh and kawaii," which means cute, so, "If someone wanted to work here and was 30, I'd put her in the back." The watered-down version of sushi-making taking place at the restaurant may just be a gimmick to lure businessmen and tourists, but it's a signal that changes could be coming to one of Japan's most traditional professions. Though, for female sushi chefs, there's a long road between making panda and frog shaped rolls and being accepted by the industry.