Japan’s First Sushi Restaurant Staffed by Female Chefs Has Traditionalists Carping. Nadeshico Sushi is the only restaurant in Japan with an all-female staff of sushi chefs. Traditionalists call that blasphemy. WSJ’s Mariko Sanchanta reports from Tokyo. In a back street in the Akihabara district, across from the flashing lights of an electronics discount store, next to the vending machine that dispenses spaghetti in a can, and one floor below the massage parlor that promises “total relaxation,” lies a true pioneer in the Japanese culinary world: the country’s first sushi restaurant featuring a cast of beautiful, young female chefs.
Despite the neighborhood, the only thing slimy about Nadeshico Sushi is the fish. “I love fish,” proclaims 24-year-old sushi chef Yuki Chizui, placing a slab of marbled fatty tuna on top of a carefully crafted nugget of rice. “I worked at a sushi restaurant for six years and only the men were allowed to make the sushi.” she says. “Even on a busy day, I couldn’t even offer them my help—that’s the kind of world it is.”
Like sumo and Kabuki, the traditional art of making sushi has long been monopolized by men. Until now. At Nadeshico (translation: ideal woman) Sushi, which opened its doors late last year, young women line up behind a 17-seat counter, meticulously crafting individual pieces of nigiri (or regular) sushi while bantering with the clientele, 90% of which is male. The restaurant’s specialty: sushi rolls shaped like cartoon panda and frog heads, adorned with heart-shaped eggs. For the Japanese men who dominate the sushi-making industry—where the craft is traditionally passed down from generation to generation—the move is blasphemous.