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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Female Sushi Chefs And Female Inequality In Japan

Holy crap! The missus sent me a newspaper link on something Japanese, but since she has no interest in things Japanese, she didn't read what it was she thought I might be interested in. Whatever.

The article I read was about the discrimination Japanese women encounter when performing tasks or jobs that have 'historically' been the bastion of testicular pride - IE men only.

The article noted how Japanese women are just now becoming involved in making sushi... professionally, that is.

Huh... I had never noticed... but apparently women were not allowed to become sushi masters.

Thankfully, some are bucking the trend and are doing it, but of course, these poor chefs then get to experience typical Japanese male discrimination.... asking the women "Can you really make sushi?"

D'uh.

As if men have never had sushi made for them by a woman.

Mmm... that's good sushi, mom.

That's right... in a typical Japanese home, the wife/mother/homemaker in the truest sense cooks all the meals for her husband and kids (and herself)... and, being Japan, sometimes sushi is on the household menu.

WTF, eh? A woman making sushi?

Yes... but the discrimination against female sushi chefs is there anyway... with some believing that since women have a higher body temperature (or regulate their body heat in a less efficient manner than men), that the warmth in their female hands will spoil the taste of the sushi.

Wow. What utter crap.

Apparently eating food just like mom used to make isn't a good thing in Japan.

The Japanese also restrict women from partaking in their national sport of sumo... something about that whole monthly bleeding thing women do that impinges the purity of the surface the sweaty fat dudes thrown themselves upon. We know the men like to keep the ring pure... which is why the sumo wrestlers are seen tossing salt about the ring a few times prior to every match.

Oh... and don't even get me started on the whole thing where Japanese women work until they married, immediately get pregnant and then never re-enter the workforce again.

While the sumo thing is pure discrimination... is it so for the sushi women?

While it IS true that no one (male) wanted to train a women in the art of sushi until very recently, did the Japanese women kick up and complain about the way Japan was being run? A female strike should have occurred until equal rights were truly exerted.

I know, I know... supposed progressive counties such as Canada and the U.S., to name but two, are not ones to talk about 'equality'... but we do allow women the opportunity to chose their career and provide them with the opportunity to reach their goal.

But is it discrimination?

Every foreigner who goes to Japan will probably encounter some Japanese person being amazed at the fact they can use chopsticks. It's two effing sticks... if a two-year-old Japanese kid can learn it, I'm pretty sure most foreigners can, too. I said 'most'.

I've had Japanese folks be amazed that I like Japanese foods... or can drink Japanese sake... yeah man... alcoholism known no political boundaries.

It's just ignorance. Inexperience at knowing how to handle a new situation, which stems from ignorance. Both can be taught and learned... and people will change.

It didn't take people long in my city of Ohtawara-shi to learn that yeah, both Matthew and I can use Japanese chopsticks, we do like Japanese rice, we do like Japanese alcohol and we do like Japanese women... though speaking only for myself, I like women. period. I don't really care where anyone is from.

I wonder, however, after we left... did our replacements get those same dull questions? Maybe it's just to make conversation.... or do the Japanese really think foreigners incapable of being every bit as Asian as they are? At least on the surface. I would never pretend to have a Japanese heart.

Women certainly are treated like second-class citizens in Japan.

I know I haven't been to Japan in 22 years, and I suspect there has been some growth... but I suspect even more that change in Japan is something that happens at a snail's pace.

Female teachers still are the 'lowers' of the male teachers... probably still making everyone o-cha (green tea)... and then serving the men.

I hated that. I would always hang out with the woman and make and serve the tea.

I know I was told that it wasn't my job to do that - it was the women's... but I know it got the female tongue wagging as I thumbed my gaijin (foreigner) nose at male Japanese authority.

I wanted to show the men that there was no shame in performing tasks like this - if even for themselves... but I fear my possessing the lowly level of 'gaijin' didn't carry much weight in the Japanese male world.

Still... despite prodding from people like myself , Japanese women need to get off their subservient hands and knees and fight for their own damn equal rights.

I certainly know a hell of a lot about women, and by that I mean I know next to nothing.

As a final aside, I would like to note that the newspaper article about the female sushi chefs mentioned a few restaurants... and one of them was a place called Nadeshico in Tokyo.

Noticing that the restaurant had a "c" in it's name, I wondered if the Associated Press article had made a typo. All 'c' sounding words in Japanese would utilize a 'k'.

So I looked up the restaurant and then found a review on the place... written initially by a Japanese woman (and translated into English by a gaijin dude).... it described Nadeshico as a sushi restaurant run by women who wear Japanese kimono to serve their customers. So it IS a 'c' for whatever reason... probably kitsch... like those western places that spell coffee or club with a 'k'.

Chidui Yuki (surname first) is the sushi chef and manager of Nadeshico Sushi in Tokyo - seen here using her warn hands to press a meat onto a wad of rice. That's also Yuki in the photo at the top.
While there is certainly nothing wrong in looking feminine in a kimono... I question its use here. The chefs are attempting to break down stereotypes and show that women can be sushi chefs - and good ones - too.

But WHY dress up in kimono to do it? Kitsch? Japan loves its kitsch! And... a lot of restaurants are looking for an angle to attract more customers...

But dammit?! Should the rarity of a female chefs be the attraction without having to resort to wearing kimono? They, in my opinion, should be wearing the typical sushi garb worn by male chefs... and should wear it proudly to show that they are on equal terms with the men!

Ugh!!!!!

Then they can show they are on a higher ground than the men with their superior tasting sushi.

But of course... will that ever happen?

If I was a Japanese man, I would suggest it will never happen until those female sushi chefs figure out how to make their sushi-making hands and fingers cooler.

Somewhere making a bowl of ice water (I know it's not REALLY necessary... that sushi isn't going to get spoiled!),

Andrew "Let me get you a cup of o-cha" Joseph

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