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One Japanese Restaurant Attempts to Encourage the Rise of the Female Sushi Chef

The restaurant is owned by a woman, and all of the sushi chefs on staff are female.

Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images

Although Japan might not be the leader in the women's movement, a group of female sushi chefs are attempting to change the male-dominated industry. A 28-year-old chef, Yuki Chidui, aims to challenge tradition in her all-female sushi restaurant in Tokyo, reports the New York Times. The project has been difficult and met by opposition from males in the country — she's often ridiculed by male patrons who enter her restaurant Nadeshico — and the soft-spoken chef has endured the harsh criticism since opening the eatery five years ago.

Recently, the government of Japan has been encouraging women to take on previously male-dominated roles as an attempt to increase the country's dwindling workforce. During this time of change, women are beginning to fill positions that were once unheard of, and sushi chef is high on the list. While it can take more than a decade to be properly trained in the art, there are many crash courses offered to help beginners break into the industry. Tokyo Sushi Academy offers a two-month course in sushi-dom, and about one-fifth of the Japanese students are female and one-third of the international students are also women.

While women are making progress in this area, many are quick to point out that only casual sushi restaurants are allowing female chefs, while traditional high-end eateries still remain dominated by men. One example is Sukiyabashi Jiro, owned by Jiro Ono, whose son was quoted as saying that one reason women would not be allowed to be chefs at the restaurant was due to the fact that they menstruate. Of course this quote may seem archaic to many Americans, but it can't be denied that even in the land of the free, female chefs are often not given the same credit as their male counterparts.

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