ATAMI, SHIZUOKA PREF. – Chie Inamoto decided to become a chef to challenge the widespread view that sushi made by women just isn’t as good as that made by men.
Inamoto, 47, manages an outlet of the Isomaru seafood chain in Atami, the famous hot spring resort in Shizuoka Prefecture.
What makes her restaurant unique is that the other two chefs are also women.
“There are still people who are surprised to see that we are all women,” Inamoto said. “When we opened, some people left once they found us here.”
One factor behind the conventional thinking that sushi chefs are always men is that they sometimes need to do heavy lifting, such as scurrying around with big boxes of fish.
Before working for Isomaru, Inamoto held a lot of different jobs while raising two children. Eventually she was hired as a sales clerk at a souvenir shop operated by Isomaru.
One day, the president of the company asked her if she was interested in becoming a sushi chef at a new restaurant. Inamoto accepted and trained hard to develop the required skills — cutting fish and removing scales, bones and organs, and making and shaping vinegar-seasoned rice.
Even after she started working as a chef, she continued to practice at home late into the night.
She spared no effort and the more skilled she became, the more popular the restaurant became.
Her motherly air has also attracted customers with children.
Now and then, queues even form in front of the restaurant.
“I hope that it will no longer be considered unusual that women make sushi,” Inamoto said.