We’re not too proud to admit that we’d never heard the term onna hitori-zushi (or, solo woman sushi) before. Of course, we’d never heard of bijin sushi (good-looking woman sushi chef) either. Clearly we need to get out more.
Author Reiko Yuyama’s book, appropriately entitled Solo Woman Sushi (or, Onna Hitori-zushi) tells the story of her adventures as a lone woman entering a traditionally male domain: the high-end sushi bar.
The act of onna hitori-zushi, Yuyama says, underlines the sushi restaurants’ unique features. “Sushi restaurant culture has developed along with the corporate culture in Japan, which considered expensive sushi places as convenient venues for high-powered corporate entertaining. Naturally, those places have come to serve mainly male customers, especially men with power.”
As a result, many of those establishments have come to play the role of exclusive salons, where regular customers and the chef develop a special bond. Those customers generally know a lot about sushi, and also know the prices, even though their host does not disclose them directly. “Women also go to such restaurants — but generally they are accompanying those ‘knowledgeable’ men,” Yuyama says.
The book also explores the notion of gourmet otaku, the latest in a long line of otaku concepts fascinating us here at Planet Tokyo, though we tend to specialize more in udon than sushi.