CLOSE
YouTube // Great Big Story
YouTube // Great Big Story

Step Inside Japan’s Only Sushi Restaurant Run by Women

YouTube // Great Big Story
YouTube // Great Big Story

Sexism is hardly a foreign concept in the United States. Plenty of Americans believe there are certain jobs a woman could never do: computer programmer, president, Ghostbuster. But “sushi chef” is not one that frequently comes to mind. Hop over to Japan, and it’s a very different story. Read on and check out the video below for a look inside the country’s only sushi restaurant run by women.

Tradition is a big deal in Japan. Unfortunately, not all of these traditions are rational. Women can’t be sushi chefs, according to traditional logic, because their hands are too warm. Also, their makeup and perfume will block their sense of smell. Also, it’s hard work, and women aren’t cut out for hard work. Also, the area behind the counter is sacred, and, to quote one chef, “women are silly.”

Then there’s the idea that having a period renders a person insensible. “To be a professional means to have a steady taste in your food,” chef Yoshikazu Ono told The Wall Street Journal, “but because of the menstrual cycle women have an imbalance in their taste, and that’s why women can’t be sushi chefs.” (Fun fact: everybody’s hormones are fluctuating all the time. Even men’s.)

Even with these irrational barriers, lots of women want to become sushi chefs. Unfortunately, that almost always means training under male chefs, who tend to treat them as ornaments rather than apprentices. Getting a real education can be next to impossible, but without experience and qualifications, a woman chef will have an even harder time finding a job.

Enter Nadeshico Sushi, Japan’s first women-run sushi restaurant. The Tokyo business opened up in 2010, when manager Yuki Chizui took on a small staff of young women and trained them herself. The restaurant was facing an uphill battle from the start; the fish market, like the sushi business, is also run by men, none of whom wanted to sell fish to a woman. Through a friend of a friend, Chizui managed to hook up with an all-women fishing outfit, which agreed to supply the restaurant.

Unsurprisingly, the all-women restaurant was not exactly welcomed by other sushi chefs. But the Nadeshico team persisted, and are running a thriving business to this day.

The restaurant has taken a big step forward in bucking sexist tradition, but that doesn’t exactly make it a beacon of equality. The name Nadeshico is taken from the term yamato nadeshiko, or “idealized woman,” an old-fashioned concept that prioritizes beauty, obedience, and domestic skills.

Nadeshico Sushi was the brainchild of a middle-aged man, Kazuya Nishikiori, who says the restaurant’s motto is “fresh and kawaii”—cute. The women he hires are enthusiastic chefs, but they’re also pretty and young. "If someone wanted to work here and was 30,” he told The Wall Street Journal, “I'd put her in the back."

It’s a start, we guess.

Know of something you think we should cover? Email us at tips@mentalfloss.com.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Animals
Switzerland Just Made It Illegal to Boil Live Lobsters
iStock
iStock

No, lobsters don’t scream when you toss them into a pot of boiling water, but as far as the Swiss government is concerned, they can still feel pain. The path most lobsters take to the dinner plate is supposedly so inhumane that Switzerland has banned boiling lobsters alive unless they are stunned first, The Guardian reports.

The new law is based on assertions from animal rights advocates and some scientists that crustaceans like lobsters have complex nervous systems, making death by boiling incredibly painful. If chefs want to include lobster on their menus, they’re now required to knock them out before preparing them. Acceptable stunning methods under Swiss law include electric shock and the “mechanical destruction” of the lobster’s brain (i.e. stabbing it in the head).

The government has also outlawed the transportation of live lobsters on ice or in icy water. The animals should instead be kept in containers that are as close to their natural environment as possible until they’re ready for the pot.

Proponents of animal rights are happy with the decision, but others, including some scientists, are skeptical. The data still isn’t clear as to whether or not lobsters feel pain, at least in the way people think of it. Bob Bayer, head of the University of Maine’s Lobster Institute, told Mental Floss in 2014 that lobsters “sense their environment, but don’t have the intellectual hardware to process pain.”

If you live in a place where boiling lobsters is legal, but still have ethical concerns over eating them, try tossing your lobster in the freezer before giving it a hot water bath. Chilling it puts it to sleep and is less messy than butchering it while it’s still alive.

[h/t The Guardian]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Food
Hate Red M&M's? You Need a Candy Color-Sorting Machine
iStock
iStock

You don’t have to be a demanding rock star to live a life without brown M&M's or purple Skittles—all you need is some engineering know-how and a little bit of free time.

Mechanical engineering student Willem Pennings created a machine that can take small pieces of candy—like M&M's, Skittles, Reese’s Pieces, etc.—and sort them by color into individual piles. All Pennings needs to do is pour the candy into the top funnel; from there, the machine separates the candy—around two pieces per second—and dispenses all of it into smaller bowls at the bottom designated for each variety.

The color identification is performed with an RGB sensor that takes “optical measurements” of candy pieces of equal dimensions. There are limitations, though, as Pennings revealed in a Reddit Q&A: “I wouldn't be able to use this machine for peanut M&M's, since the sizes vary so much.”

The entire building process lasted from May through December 2016, and included the actual conceptualization, 3D printing (which was outsourced), and construction. The entire project was detailed on Pennings’s website and Reddit's DIY page.

With all of the motors, circuitry, and hardware that went into it, Pennings’s machine is likely too ambitious of a task for the average candy aficionado. So until a machine like this hits the open market, you're probably stuck buying bags of single-colored M&M’s in bulk online or sorting all of the candy out yourself the old fashioned way.

To see Pennings’s machine in action, check out the video below:

[h/t Refinery 29]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios