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[Video] The Story of Japan's Only Sushi Restaurant Run by All Female Chefs

A group of intrepid female chefs has been defying the laws of tradition to combat sexism in Japan’s sushi community.

Yuki Chizui is the owner and one of the chefs at Nadeshiko Sushi Restaurant in Chiyoda, Japan, which has the distinction of being the first sushi restaurant in Japan owned and staffed exclusively by women.

In a video published on Rise Up's Facebook page, Chizui talks about the challenges women face in the world of sushi: “Some male chefs say that sushi made by women is inferior. Am I capable of making sushi as well as a male sushi chef? Yes, of course I can.”

Japan Times, meanwhile, reported that Japan’s gender equality has fallen from 111th to 114th place, according to the World Economic Forum, a Geneva-based think tank. This is the worst standing among the Group of Seven major economies.

The gender equality gap is even wider in Japan's sushi world. Japanese tradition dictates that women are forbidden from engaging in sushi preparation, while they are also passed over during hiring processes because of long-held myths. 

Inside Tokyo's Nadeshiko Sushi. Photo via Tokyo Girls Update.

Jezebel quoted Kazuyoshi Ono, a big name in Japan's sushi industry, who said that said women purportedly cannot prepare sushi because “their menstrual cycle affects their sense of taste" and that “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.”

This misconception about body temperature is dispelled in Rise Up's video, which cites a study saying that women’s hands on average are actually 2.8°F colder than men’s, at 87.2°F, compared to men’s 90°F. Chizui laughs at the idea that women's makeup and menstruation affects their ability to smell and taste, saying: "A man's body odor is stronger - they are often sweaty. Don't those smells hinder their sense?"

She told the The Guardian: “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.”

In the face of a society steeped in tradition she sees as sexist, Chizui persists in running a successful and respected restaurant while letting the taste and quality of her culinary art speak for itself. “That’s the best way to answer our critics,” she told Jezebel, “to keep proving to our customers that we can make good sushi.”

Learn the story of how Yuki Chizui established Nadeshiko Sushi in the Rise Up video below:

Video via Facebook page Rise Up.

[Top photo via National Post]

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