Japanese culture and Western culture don’t often mix it up. Which in a way, explains why whenever we become interested in Japanese cultural exports, we try and squeeze them in into a western mould that sometimes just doesn’t fit. If it’s successful in Japan and a western company wants to get their claws into it, it’ll be twisted and contorted to fit into a western aesthetic that’s easier for us to digest. Look at the different ways the Nintendo Wii is marketed in the west and Japan. Samurai, ninjas, electronics, karaoke; they all become a clichéd parody of themselves when they’re represented over here. Visions of drunken hooligans screaming Queen lyrics into a beaten up pub karaoke system, don’t really ring true when you look at how good karaoke is in Japan.
But at the end of the day, we’re not Japanese and there are times when we do get it right and keep as much of the original in tact as possible.
So, let’s talk about sushi.
Yo! Sushi is a ‘slice of Urban Tokyo’ according to the official site and despite the haters, I think they’re right. People always seem to harp on about the fact that the waiters aren’t ‘Asian looking’ (whatever they mean by that), the fish isn’t Japanese, ‘They’re not professionally trained.’ and ‘This isn’t what I was expecting!’. I think those people, even though they’re obviously very good at looking, aren’t very good at seeing. The point is that Yo! Sushi, even though it does a bloody good job, isn’t trying to replicate a 100% authentic Japanese experience. It’s just bringing something into the mainstream that we wouldn’t otherwise get to try.
So it’s not all about Japanese sushi chefs and fish from Tsukiji fish market, because as an Anglo-Japanese experience (there aren’t many of these!), Yo! Sushi is about as authentic as it gets. If you want what people seem to be calling ‘real’ sushi, the answer is simple; go to Japan.