Lonely Planet Writer

"Sushi University” will help visitors in Tokyo understand what they are eating

Travelling in a new country can be confusing and language barriers only add to the problem. Now, a tour in Japan wants to take the mystery out of ordering and eating authentic sushi with the newly launched “Sushi University”.

Sushi.
Sushi. Image by Pinnee/Getty Images

Tabimori, Inc., a travel group that aims to eliminate language barriers for travellers, has created the new program, where travellers will learn about sushi and be taken to a restaurant where an interpreter will help them enjoy an authentic meal to the fullest.

The new interpreting service is designed for tourists in Japan who don’t speak Japanese but want to try traditional Edo-style sushi in the Tokyo area. The service will take people from their hotels in a shuttle to sushi restaurants to sample “omakase” – or a chef’s choice menu.

Japanese cuisine, including sushi.
Japanese cuisine, including sushi. Image by ©Aisha Yusaf/500px

Guests will be seated at the counter where they can see a chef working; the sushi chef will give a lecture in Japanese and an interpreter will be there to translate. Guests will also be advised by their interpreter of important sushi etiquette, such as not wearing a heavy perfume or smoking during a meal, as the smell can distract from the “delicate flavours of Edomae style sushi”. 

Recently, a number of services have launched in Japan to help travellers navigate linguistic and cultural differences, an important step as the country gears up to host the 2020 Olympics Games in Tokyo. Japan’s Restroom Industry Association recently introduced a set of eight icons to help toilet manufacturers explain how to use the high-tech features to foreign travelers, while Iwate Prefecture amused people around the world with its initiative introducing 26 signs that help tourists understand everything from how spicy foods are, to proper etiquette at the bathhouse.

Get the top travel news stories delivered straight to your inbox every weekday by signing up to our newsletter.