Sushi chef training in Japan (Itamae 板前修業)

The chef of Japanese restaurant or Sushi restaurant are called “Itamae (板前)”.
“Ita (板)” means a counter. “mae (前)” means ahead.
The chef’s top is called “Hanaita (花板)”.

Japanese cuisine that Itamae cooks in front of the customer.
Therefore, failure and cheating are never allowed. 


Today, I talk about real sushi chef of Japanese cuisine “Itamae (板前)”.


I have heard the pot person is the highest class in western chef, right?

In Japan, the pot person is second class. You know Japan is Samurai’s country. So, the highest class is “The Cutting Person“.
Itamae usually cut foods or make Sushi only.


They are classified as follows.

1. Handyman (Oimawashi  / 追廻)
2. Arrangement (Hassunba /八寸場)
3. Grill and Deep-fry (Yakiba, Ageba / 焼き場 / 揚げ場)
4. Stew and Steam (Nikata, Mushiba 煮方 / 蒸し場)
5. Itamae (板前)

I explain 5 section.

1. Handyman (Oimawashi / 追廻)


It begins with the preparation of cooking utensils and cooking meals for workers. Their  jobs are washing dishes, clean restaurant and kitchen, preparing ingredients and so on.

They can learn the best time of year to experience seasonal Japanese ingredients and price.

In Japan their salaries are very low and they work from morning till night, so they live in and work like maids. They will remain in this role until the next new comer.

2. Arrangement (Hassunba / 八寸場)


“Hassun” means Japanese old type unit of measure “8-sun”. This size is approx. 24cm square. The reason why it’s 8 is that they often decorate foods on 25cm plates.
“Ba” means location.

Here they will master the basics of serving Japanese food. They do not cook foods for customers though.

I already told you that when you eat Japanese foods, you have to use with your 5 senses.

So, the arrangement is very important for Japanese cuisine. All dishes arranged means something.

They work and learn this part about real basic of Japanese cuisine for a few years.

3. Grill and Deep-fry (Yakiba, Ageba 焼き場 / 揚げ場)


“Yaki” means grill.  “Age” means deep-fry. This is where they first learn to cook with fire.

There are actually many rules for grilled and fried Japanese foods that foreigners do not know.

For example, the head of this fish should always be placed facing left, and the tail should be put in salt so that it does not burn. It’s not just a grilling.

Yakiba (焼き場)


“Yaki” means grill. “Yakiba” is mainly responsible for grilling. Since the taste changes depending on the condition of the fire, it is necessary to cook foods with the best technique skillfully.

Ageba (揚げ場)


The one person is usually in charge of these two.

4. Stew and Steam (Nikata, Mushiba 煮方 / 蒸し場)

“Nikata” means the pot person. They are a charge of making menu also.

They have to understand not only their own taste of restaurant, but also Japanese cuisine deeply.

Because they make dashi soup stock, which is the basis taste of the restaurant.

NIkata (煮方)


They are the taste of the restaurant itself. Therefore, this post is also an important position because if the charge changes, the taste of the restaurant will change also.

Mushiba (蒸し場)


“Mushi” means steam. Nikata often doubles as a steaming place.

5. Itamae (板前)


Itamae is the top of the kitchen where they cook Sashimi, Sushi or cutting foods.

There are approx 20 types of kitchen knives for Itamae in Japan.
The cut person is the highest class in Japan. A person who can use these knives to prepare fishes is of the highest class.

The Chef except for Sushi or Japanese restaurant’s chef are not called as “Itamae”.

Generally speaking, it takes 10 years of training need to be Itamae in Japan. It’s a hard job, and many people quit in a few years. 

Moreover, it was said women and foreigners are not for sushi chef until recently… Actually, have you ever seen Japanese woman Sushi chef? I have never seen them! The sushi world is exclusive😰

(Izakaya is OK. The small restaurant that is managed by woman is often called “koryouri-ya”)

Sushi Academy

If  you want to be a sushi chef, there is a school,Sushi Academyin Tokyo. This school is very good! 

You can have a short lesson. Of course, there are English course, too.

One-day trial lessons are also available😊

Anyway,  Enjoy Real-Sushi life with Sake, when you go to Japan!

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