Japanese food, and sushi in particular, has become very popular around the world, and inevitably the word has managed to screw it up. So much so, in fact, that many Japanese citizens are coming back from traveling abroad and calling their government with complaints about soggy seaweed, limp noodles and sushi with toppings that are far from traditional.
As Japan is a culture that values its tradition and national identity, the Japanese Agriculture Ministry has responded by putting together a blue ribbon panel of experts and tasking it with evaluating and certifying the world sushi restaurants. The panel is set to unveil its standards for certification by the end of February, and starting next April, inspectors will spread out around the world to give restaurants either the all-important stamp of approval or the dreaded stamp of shame.
Some people think it’s not right for the Japanese government to impose their rigid standards on restaurants in other countries, but I disagree. Perhaps it’s just that I’m more interested in Japanese culture than the average person, but when I go out for sushi, I’m also trying to learn something about Japanese etiquette. Should I ever find myself in Japan, or any other country for that matter, I would like to have some idea what I’m doing so I’m not seen as just another stupid American tourist.