Breaking the Mold

Shattering Sushi Restaurant Stereotypes

Restaurants in Japan and especially those serving Sushi tend to be male dominated. However, one restaurant in Tokyo seeks to break the mold.

Nadeshiko Sushi, located in Akihabara, is not your average sushi restaurant, as all of the sushi chefs serving your food are female. The restaurant opened in September 2010 and was created out of a desire to further social progress for women in Japan, to help women see that anything is possible and to shatter stereotypes. Although women do train as sushi chefs in Japan for several years, very few find themselves able to open a restaurant or make a living, but Nadeshiko Sushi is still going strong after almost eight years.

Unlike other all-female cafes and restaurants in Akihabara (such as maid cafes and cosplay cafes), guests are a mix of men and women and they come to enjoy the food and support the ethos behind the restaurant. The chefs aim to be creative in their preparation and presentation of the sushi which is much more than just a slice of raw fish on rice. Guests are treated to delights such as fresh black pepper ground over fatty tuna, plum sauce and citrus over flounder, delicious ginger and mackerel pate served in a martini glass. Visitors can stroll right into Nadeshiko Sushi or make an advance reservation.

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Beautiful Boxer in Thailand

Parinya Charoenphol (Khun Toom) was the first Thai transgender Muay Thai boxer, whose inspirational story was made into a famous movie in 2002 titled, Beautiful Boxer. She is a role model for other transgender people and has become a leading empowerment figure of the transgender community in Thailand. Her public life started in February 1998, with a victory in Bangkok’s Lumpini Boxing Stadium, the center of the Muay Thai world. The Thai media were understandably intrigued by the novelty and incongruity of a make-up wearing 16-year-old kathoey, or “lady boy”, defeating and then kissing a larger, more muscular opponent. Although the Thai government had previously blocked kathoey athletes from participating in the national volleyball team for fear of negative reaction from the rest of the world, the Muay Thai establishment embraced Nong Toom, and tourism officials promoted her as “indicative of the wonders to be found” in Thailand.

Nong Toom helped to revitalize the sport during a slump in the mid-90s. Media and public interest in the sport peaked, as shown by increased ticket sales and stadium revenue. She was profiled in several magazines, and appeared in many Thai music videos. On February 26, 2006, Nong Tum made a comeback as boxer after a seven year break. She fought an exhibition match for Fairtex Gym’s new Pattaya branch (re-dubbed Nong Toom Fairtex Gym). These days she shares her passion with others and teaches Muay Thai boxing to young children, women and anybody who loves the sport at her own gym, Parinya Muay Thai. Through the art of Muay Thai boxing and a creative-based education, Parinya Muay Thai’s goal is to provide wellness, empowerment, and cultural preservation to the local Thai children.

‘Education, a better road to Success’, is a program run at Parinya Muay Thai that allows children to live, train and eventually go to school without being under contract to fight or having the burden of financially supporting their families. As some children, even at the young age of 5 are pushed to fight and make money to support their families. At Parinya Muay Thai, children are only taught Muay Thai boxing for fitness and self-defense. They are also offered opportunities to pursue an education, thereby giving them a better chance at success in the long-term.

In Thailand, due to Buddhist beliefs, most Thai people are open-minded and accepting of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community. However, in certain hyper-masculine environments such as Muay Thai camps, coming “out” is less encouraged. The Parinya Muay Thai OUTreach program will not only allow those LGBT youth to live and train in a safe and open environment, but also learn to defend themselves against bullies, develop confidence and discover self-empowerment.

We can organize Thai boxing workshops at Parinya Muay Thai in Samut Prakan for special groups.

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An Artist’s Challenges in China

Unlike the public and commercial 798 Art District in Beijing, Caochangdi artist village is altogether different and more private. This vibrant, off-the-beaten-path villa community is made up of prestigious freelance artists whose artworks have been sold in numerous galleries in China and abroad. For this unique visit, Destination Asia China will arrange appointments with some famous female artists, ranging from painters and sculptors to photographers and performers, in their homes or studios (and not public galleries). Guests will have an opportunity to learn more about their lives and artistic aspirations, and about the unique challenges and opportunities that come with being a female artist in China.

e: [email protected]

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