A new study released this week by Japan Times restaurant industry expert Hirokazu Yamamoto finds that the sushi world is “not a happy place” with sushi being one of the most commonly reported ailments in Japan.
While sushi is considered a delicacy, the majority of the restaurants surveyed report that they receive complaints about poor quality sushi.
“I feel that sushi is a very popular cuisine, but the restaurant industry does not provide good food,” said Yamamoto.
“Sushi is very high quality, but it’s not affordable.”
The study, titled ‘Sushi and Quality’, found that restaurants have a hard time finding chefs to work on their sushi menus because the quality of the ingredients is often lacking.
“It’s difficult to hire good chefs because the sushi quality is very poor,” said one of five sushi chefs interviewed by the Times.
“I think there are two reasons for that: the quality is bad, and there’s a shortage of skilled chefs.”
Yamamoto’s study also found that many restaurants are hesitant to open up for new customers, which is particularly problematic for sushi lovers.
“There’s a lot of stigma attached to sushi,” said the sushi chef, “so the only way to find sushi lovers is by doing something with the sushi.”
Sushi lovers have also been struggling with health problems, including food allergies, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and obesity.
“Sushi culture is also very important to people with IBS, and I think that the quality in sushi has also improved,” said Yumi Nishimura, who runs an online store that specializes in sushi.
“But the main reason is the way that people eat it, and it’s also hard to do.”
While some sushi restaurants are closing down, many are keeping their doors open.
The Times survey found that 52% of sushi restaurants surveyed have kept open at least one sushi restaurant in the past year.
The survey found restaurants with more than 1,000 square feet (1,000 sq m) have the most sushi restaurants per square foot, followed by sushi joints with fewer than 500 square feet per square meter.
According to the survey, sushi chefs are the least satisfied with their job.
“Many people think that chefs are doing nothing,” said Nishimura.
“They think that there’s no work, and they want to do it.”
Nishimura added that most sushi chefs in Japan are either retired or have other health issues that require them to take time off from their jobs.
The sushi industry is also a social and economic burden for Japanese society.
“We have a lot to do,” said a sushi chef who requested to remain anonymous.
“This industry, it’s hard to understand why people want to eat sushi, but they want it for health reasons.”