Finding great sushi in Japan is easy — but a great female sushi chef? They’re as rare as the fish they serve.
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18 April 2019 | Volume 1, Issue 20
  A note from our editor:
Yuki Chizui’s sushi restaurant in Tokyo has a special hook: all her chefs are women. In an industry known for its gender discrimination, Yuki challenges outdated beliefs about female sushi chefs and their capabilities. We sat down with Yuki to discuss her work and how she is training more women to follow in her footsteps.

Also in this issue, we showcase photographs, paintings, sculptures and sketches created by young women around the world — and they are 💯. We hear from Shoushi Bakarian, an engineering student, aerospace inventor and Syrian refugee. And 17-year-old Assembly reader Isabel from Australia shares what articles she has read recently and why you should read them too.


Career spotlight
Pioneering sushi chef Yuki Chizui is cutting away at Japan’s patriarchy, one sashimi at a time
Sushi chef Yuki Chizui
By Hannah Orenstein
Finding great sushi in Japan is easy — but a great female sushi chef? They’re as rare as the fish they serve.

So few women are formally trained in Japan as itamae (the Japanese word for chef), it’s turned Yuki Chizui — the country’s first female sushi chef — into a feminist food star.

As the manager of the all-female staffed restaurant Nadeshiko Sushi, Yuki is celebrated outside of Japan for challenging patriarchal standards. The Guardian, Food & Wine, Broadly and Eater have all featured her work. But back in Tokyo, she’s still fighting to get the respect she deserves.

In her early days as a chef, when she would go to shop at Tsukiji Fish Market (where the best chefs in Tokyo buy ingredients), vendors would refuse to sell to her because she was a woman. Male chefs had to purchase fish on her behalf. But Yuki refused to accept defeat. She kept returning to the market until the vendors obliged. “Now I can purchase fish by myself, as a woman,” she says proudly.

Earning the respect of fish vendors was a small victory. Yuki has faced discrimination and scepticism throughout her decade-long career. Training to be a sushi chef in Japan is steeped in tradition and formality. According to one chef’s account, an apprentice can spend about five years performing menial tasks at a restaurant before he is even allowed to prepare food. While many women have trained at renowned schools like the Tokyo Sushi Academy, female graduates have difficulty finding apprenticeships at restaurants in Japan. They often pursue employment overseas or learn to cook other types of food, Yuki explains.

Read more.
Art roundup 
Assembly readers from 12 countries share their latest creations
Assembly art roundup
An open call for Assembly readers to share their art brought in photographs, paintings, sculptures, sketches and more created by young women around the world.

Afia from Pakistan sent in a painting of blue whales that she made to raise awareness about their near extinction.

Betelhem from Ethiopia submitted her photograph of a sunset that symbolises overcoming adversity.

Katia from Mexico shared her oil painting of huevos estrellados (fried eggs) because she loves the details in the piece.

Check out the art that Assembly readers are creating.


“Lion is one of the strongest animal. It symbolizes pride, strength, courage. Its eyes represent peace.”
— Khadijah, 15, Afghanistan


“The title of the piece is ‘wasting.’ I created it at a time when I felt I wasn’t in full control of my career and choices. It’s a piece that makes me proud, because it was so simple and yet I felt communicated what I couldn’t with words.”

— Mwandwe, 24, Zambia


“It's an explosions box. Crafting is my childhood passion and I’ve been doing it throughout my life. In the past year, I started an Instagram account (@the_littlemaker) and began posting my work on there. Slowly people started noticing me and my works.”
— Noora, 21, India

Girl profile
Meet Shoushi Bakarian: engineering student, aerospace inventor and Syrian refugee
Shoushi Bakarian
  By Tess Thomas
Shoushi Bakarian is the first to admit that she wasn’t a good student at the beginning of high school. Busy with tennis, gymnastics and scouts, she didn’t feel engaged with her studies. But that changed when conflict hit her home city of Aleppo.

Because the city was no longer safe to travel around and her family’s home didn’t have electricity, running water or gas, Shoushi couldn’t surf the internet or participate in her after-school activities. So, she turned to her school books “because that was the only thing that was available.” As she spent more time reading, she made an important discovery about herself: “I figured out my strengths, which were math and physics.” She loved problem-solving and seeing how different concepts relate to each other.

Although Shoushi had found her passion, life during the Syrian civil war wasn’t easy. “Before that, I was living like a normal 15-year-old,” she shares. “And then one day everything stops, no more fun stuff. It’s not safe anymore. I have to think before I have to go somewhere else… Am I going somewhere safe? Am I going to come back? Is it an OK time to go out?”

“We had to count how many times we can shower,” Shoushi recalls. “And we had to go and bring the water ourselves because there was no running water. We had to go to a well.” The Bakarian family worked with the limited resources available: “If at 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. suddenly we had electricity, we had to wake up. We had to charge stuff because we were living on these LED lights.”

Read more.
What we're reading
Assembly readers share what articles they’ve enjoyed recently and why you should read them too.

Isabel here! I am a 17-year-old student from a rural town in Australia. I am passionate about social justice and music. I have been playing flute for about seven years and just started on the saxophone. I am a huge Harry Potter fanatic — I love all the characters but cannot deny that Hermione is definitely my favourite. Check out what I’ve been reading:

“Human-trafficking survivor and UN adviser Rani Hong changed US law – now she wants to end modern slavery”
By Rani Hong, South China Morning Post
Rani Hong uses her personal experience as a human-trafficking survivor to fight for the rights of other young women in the same situation. She writes about working with governments and companies around the world to end human trafficking.

“She was the youngest speaker at the March for Our Lives. A year later, Naomi Wadler is still fighting gun violence.”
By Dara Elasfar, The Lily
12-year-old Naomi Walters is an advocate who raises awareness about gun violence against African American girls in the U.S. Her activism shows the impact that one young voice can have on so many people. She just launched her Twitter account — follow her here!

“How Teenage Sisters Pushed Bali To Say 'Bye-Bye' To Plastic Bags”
By Michael Sullivan, NPR
These amazing young sisters Melati and Bel Wijsen (who have been featured on Assembly!) are fighting to eliminate plastic waste in their home island of Bali. I am so inspired by them and I think their passion for the issue is the secret to their success.

“The Runner Who Hid Her Gender to Be the First Woman in the Boston Marathon”
By Bianca Betancourt, Broadly
Kathrine Switzer shows us the importance of not accepting no as an answer when it comes to any form of discrimination. This article tells her story of competing in an all-male marathon — there’s a crazy photo of a race official trying to pull off her bib.
Get published in Assembly!
  Assembly publishes original work by girls, for girls. And we would love to include your voice! Send us your ideas and you could be featured in the next issue.
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