The sushi kitchens of Japan have traditionally been dominated by men, however, women have been shirking tradition and stereotypes by becoming pioneers of sushi-making with the top four female sushi chefs you can visit during your Japan trip.
While stigma surrounding female sushi chefs continues to plague the industry, women are brushing off the myths and crafting perfect sushi dishes from the kitchens of progressive restaurants as well as their own, women-led eateries.
From the perfect piece of nigiri to a sensational slice of sashimi, this list compiles the best sushi restaurants in Japan where female sushi chefs are challenging Japanese tradition.
The small restaurant in Shizuoka Prefecture is 108 miles south of Tokyo and run by Yumi Chiba. Chef Chiba learned how to make sushi from her father, the original owner of the restaurant. She has worked as the head sushi chef for nearly 20 years. Chef Chiba is famous for her approach to Edo-style sushi, adapting delicate knife techniques and combining specific cuts of fish to serve hungry locals and eager travelers her award-winning sushi. Her goal is to preserve the culinary heritage of sushi for future generations at home and abroad while breaking through the barriers that once confronted her.
Yuki Chizui of Nadeshiko Sushi challenges the status quo by running the first and only all-female staffed sushi restaurant in the country. Chef Chizui has created an environment to fight sexism in the commercial kitchens of Tokyo, overcoming stereotypes about women making sushi, and inspiring customers of any gender by crafting sensational and unique nigiri appealing to Tokyo’s younger generation and international tourists. In Chef Chizui’s restaurant, you will be served by master sushi makers who do not don the traditional white coat of sushi chefs, encouraging a bright and conversational environment sparked between chef and patron.
Chef Fumie Takeuchi became the first female sushi chef in Ginza after opening her restaurant Sushi Take in 2014. She focuses on Edo-style sushi based on the celebrated restaurant Shimbashi Shimizu in Tokyo, where Chef Takeuchi served her apprenticeship. Her new restaurant serves set menu items and a la carte sushi dishes including stunning shining fish, conger eel, and prawns. Chef Takeuchi has become one of the best-known female sushi chefs in Japan by taking pride in her own goals of surpassing the expectations she sets for herself, expressing her intricacies with simple ingredients and flavors curated to absolute perfection.
It’s rare for female sushi chefs to succeed in the Japanese sushi industry from their own kitchens, let alone the kitchens of some of the world’s most glamorous dining franchises. Chisaki Iba is an exception to the male-dominated stereotypes, preparing delectable sushi dishes from Kyoto’s beloved Ritz-Carlton. Chef Iba is the first professional female sushi chef in her hometown of Kyoto and travelers are thrilled to find an open seat at the company's Mizuki counter to get a chance to try the curations of her culinary artistry.
The male-dominated sushi industry is slowly changing to adopt and accept female sushi chefs, albeit not quick enough. To date, very few women have opened sushi restaurants to challenge the traditional stigmas and outdated notions but many have started breaking down stereotypes that both capture tradition and reflect progress for locals and conscious travelers alike. Visit these iconic female-led restaurants by booking one of Zicasso’s Japan Tours and Vacations or learn more with our Japan Travel Guide. Want to learn more about Japan? Complete a Trip Request or call us on 1-888-265-9707 to consult a travel specialist.