Why are there no female sushi chefs?

“Their make-up and perfume taint the fish and rice. They also have a higher body temperature, which warms the fish.” Chef Eiji Hayashi, quoted in Sushi and Beyond page 99

Even sexist opinions are welcome on JapanExplained, but in fact I think it has more to do with the atmosphere of sushi being particularly masculine/ laddish. One sign of this is the loud shouts of “Irrashai” (and definitely not “Irrashaimase”) from the kitchen. In the same way, a female greengrocer or fishmonger just couldn’t manage the right kind of masculine and matey “Mai dou” (literally “Thanks for your custom”, but more like “Cheers love” in effect) and general market chit-chat. In sushi, there is the same matey chitchat, along with a trainspotterish respect for those who know every silly little detail of fish and sushi etiquette, being a particularly male mix I would say.

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3 Comments

  1. March 4, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    i know of one female sushi chef at a kaitenzushi near Kamata station. But she is the only female sushi chef i have ever seen.

  2. March 5, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    The make-up and perfume issue is BS — women are capable of not wearing such things (amazing as it might seem!), and really, male sushi chefs who smoke are worse! They’re not supposed to, as reinforced by countless admonitions (see Oishinbo, for example), but lots of them do. And the body temperature thing has been soundly debunked.

  3. Richard said,

    March 8, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    There was a news story about this the other day:
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704254304576117193420193936.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

    Not sure how much of an advance for women’s rights that restaurant represents though.


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